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Mary Kay gets facelift from Oracle Taleo cloud service

Mary Kay cosmetics implemented Oracle Taleo cloud for recruiting in the U.S., Brazil and China to replace paper applications and email notifications for applicant tracking.

Mary Kay, the cosmetics giant, is sharing important lessons and benefits from implementing Oracle Taleo cloud recruitment software in three nations over the past two years.

After going live in the U.S. in 2014, and then China and Brazil, Taleo now provides a central place for tracking internal and external job candidates and automates processes such as job applications, onboarding, forms, notifications and approvals, said Danelle Rowley, director of global HR technology and data management at Mary Kay, based outside Dallas.

It might be hard to believe, but before 2014, Mary Kay did not have an applicant tracking system, she said, noting that the recruiting process was all done with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and Access databases.

Mary Kay selected Oracle Taleo Recruit because of its functionality and because Mary Kay is "an Oracle shop," with PeopleSoft for core HR, for example, she said.

Rowley said she helped build a business case for purchasing Taleo by showing that it would pay for itself by reducing use of recruiting agencies. Mary Kay hires about 300 people a year in the U.S., including mostly hard-to-fill positions in IT and research and development.

Tight integration with LinkedIn

Rowley said she also liked Taleo's integration with LinkedIn. Oracle Taleo cloud service provides instant access to LinkedIn profiles and candidate records and with a single click, and can populate forms with LinkedIn credentials, for example.

Oracle Taleo cloud service also eliminates a lot of duplication of effort, she said, because Mary Kay personnel no longer need to enter data on spreadsheets and then also in core HR in Oracle PeopleSoft, since Taleo integrates with PeopleSoft.

Recruiters at Mary Kay lacked visibility on the manual system, she said. If someone applied for a job in two different departments, for example, maybe recruiters from each department would call the applicant without realizing the other recruiter also contacted the applicant.

"It was a horrible applicant experience because it made it look like we did not know what we were doing," she said during a presentation at Oracle HCM World in Chicago.

Lessons from China

In 2015, Mary Kay went live with Taleo onboarding and cloud recruitment software in Shanghai, China, its No. 1 market for sales ahead of the U.S., and then this month in San Paulo, Brazil.

Translations into different languages on HCM software can be headache

When Mary Kay implemented Taleo cloud recruitment software in China and Brazil, the biggest hurdle and risk by far was working with different languages.

The Oracle Taleo cloud service is available in more than 30 languages, and though 95% of the system was fine, some of the delivered translations into Chinese and Portuguese did not meet the standards of the regions, said Tom LaMarre, vice president of Taleo implementation services for HRchitect. User-defined fields, custom correspondences, custom help text and fields in onboarding forms are some examples of items that needed to be modified to account for regional standards.

"No matter how much time you think you need for translation, double it," LaMarre said.

The translations also made it difficult to export data from core HR in PeopleSoft into Taleo, according to Danelle Rowley, the global HR director at Mary Kay.

Mary Kay used the Taleo Connect Client integration tool to pass information back and forth between Taleo and PeopleSoft.

With each new language for job fields, for example, a new column would be needed on an interface file for the translated version, she said.

"That gave us a little bit of a headache," she said.

One key lesson from China is that the U.S. team should have made sure the Chinese team was more "hands on" with Taleo, said Tom LaMarre, vice president of Taleo Implementation Services for HRchitect, the implementation partner for Mary Kay.

He said the U.S. leaders should have pushed for more feedback from the Chinese team to ensure they understood Taleo as much as they needed, but language and cultural differences limited communication. "We did not have China in the system enough. We did not have them in the system early enough."

The implementation team from Mary Kay carried that lesson over to Brazil, where the local team received more hands-on practice to gain experience with Taleo, he said.

Another early lesson came when a new project leader took over for the Chinese implementation team, he said.

In hindsight, the U.S. team should have taken a step back, re-evaluated all decisions and made sure the new project leader was onboard, he said. Instead, near the end of the project, the Chinese leader questioned decisions and said some would not work. That caused extra work, confusion and delays that could have probably been avoided by validating early decisions with the new leader.

China is also reluctant to change, at least in one area. The Chinese operation still relies heavily on agencies to fill positions, though one reason for Taleo is to cut costs by reducing dependence on agencies. Agencies are, however, becoming more efficient by using the agency portal in Taleo, instead of email, he said.

When configuring the Taleo cloud software in the two nations, LaMarre said, Mary Kay decided against "recreating the wheel" overseas and instead used the U.S. system as a starting point. In Brazil, the team used U.S. configurations as a baseline but also China for comparison purposes.

Before traveling overseas, LaMarre said, it was also critical to obtain as much information as possible about the requisition forms, application data, new hire requirements, correspondences such as offer letters and recruiting, and onboarding processes used in China and Brazil.

During implementations, the teams worked together to identify the differences and similarities in the processes in order to deploy products that met specific regional needs for recruiting and onboarding, he said.

About 4,000 of Mary Kay's 5,500 employees now can use Taleo cloud recruitment software and the project is continuing. Implementation in Mexico is set to start later this year or next, meaning Spanish will be a fourth language.

Next Steps

Cloud recruitment software narrows applicants for L'Oreal

Read how onboarding can help retain top talent

Oracle co-CEO acknowledges Taleo integration issues

This was last published in April 2016

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What does your organization use for an applicant tracking system?
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My current client relies on the staffing agencies. And the agencies ..some of them just store resumes in a folder. Many still go with the personal approach.
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Just goes to show that no matter how good the product may or may not be, how successful it is depends on company culture and processes.
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Thanks for the comment, Sharon. It is interesting to learn that people skills, process and culture can be so critical in an overseas technology implementation project.
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I don't think "overseas" has anything to do with it, either. I think that's just as true for any project.
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Sharon - Good to hear from you. Talk about culture, did you realize that top distributors at Mary Kay get a pink Cadillac as an incentive? Wish I could have worked that into the story.
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I think you just did. :)

But yes, I did know that. I guess there's a lot of money in this makeup stuff.
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