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Robert Half’s Journey to Implementing High Availability, Performance, & Security on Salesforce

Alex Dimitropoulos
Nov 15 - 6 min read

This blog post summarizes a Dreamforce 2018 session delivered on September 25. To watch the session, check out this recording.

Your company’s customers are more globally distributed than ever, and their expectations for your business’s performance continue to rise. It’s no wonder that meeting customer needs is an evolving challenge. It changes shape based on competition, security and compliance regulations, and even unforeseen conditions, often when you least expect it to.

A tried-and-true way to make customers successful while navigating the shifting sands is to hold on to the one business requirement that’s constant regardless of industry, size, and era: putting the customer at the center of your business.

But what exactly does that mean, and what does it look like when a company successfully establishes that direct, one-to-one, and mutually beneficial relationship? If you attended the 2018 Dreamforce session Robert Half’s Journey to Implementing High Availability, Performance, & Security on September 25, you got the answer from Shane Sigler, VP of Infrastructure Engineering at Salesforce, and James Johnson, VP of Information Technology at Robert Half.

The No. 1 Value: Trust

Today, when a business loses the trust of its customers, it’s in existential crisis — and its days are likely numbered. As Salesforce co-founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff asked on Mad Money during Dreamforce 2018, “In the fourth industrial revolution, when everyone and everything are connected, how can you operate if trust is not your highest value?”

At Salesforce, trust is our highest value, and it has been since the company was founded in 1999. For Salesforce, trust boils down to delivering the highest standard in availabilityperformance, and security. For Robert Half, it means continuing to find the best match between employer and job seeker, without losing its personal touch. That’s no small feat for the first and largest specialized staffing company, which started as a boutique firm in 1948.

The Goal: One System

As you might imagine, in 70 years, a company can develop and need to maintain a lot of business-supporting systems: for Robert Half, until 2014, 18 to be exact. Some of those legacy and siloed systems were 20+ years old, and many were impeding the company’s innovation. Breaking new ground is easiest and smoothest when your company’s employees, systems, and records are on the same page about the state of your business.

Robert Half’s goal was ambitious: to boil those 18 systems down to only one, which would take time in the short term but help the company scale in the long term. They knew that the system needed to:

  • Securely manage client and candidate data
  • Support thousands of users who need the same business processes and objects
  • Deliver an excellent experience globally and on mobile

The Journey to Digital Transformation

To give you some idea of the scale of such a consolidation effort, it required migrating more than five million rows of data to the Salesforce Platform, though obviously not all at once. To avoid disrupting customers’ and employees’ services and schedules — and so that Robert Half could iterate upon how it was migrating data — they started small.

James Johnson talking about Robert Half’s multi-year journey to a single system
  • 2014: Initial rollout — Robert Half rolls out a front-office solution to employees and customers in a single European country. Employees can more easily track client job orders and match them to candidates’ availability.
  • 2015: Initial rollout, continued — The solution is rolled out to two more countries. Data migration is getting easier.
  • 2016: North America and APAC rollout — The solution is rolled out to all of North America, going live in a single day without interruption. Next, the solution is rolled out to nine Asia-Pacific (APAC) companies. APAC employees leave their offices on a Friday and return on Monday to a new system running on an upgraded Salesforce data center. On that Monday, James is in Robert Half’s office in Sydney, Australia, where he witnesses performance that’s faster than it’s ever been — even though the data center hosting Robert Half’s Salesforce org and data is in Dallas, Texas. “Salesforce gave me the gift of a 30% improvement in user response time,” James said.
  • 2017: Global rollout — Two more countries in Europe and two in South America are brought onto the system, completing the migration of data to the Salesforce Platform.
  • 2018: Robert Half Direct — It’s rolled out!

Introducing Robert Half Direct

In part because of the move to a single system, Robert Half was able to build a new line of business, Robert Half Direct, that uses intelligence, well-defined and consistently defined workflows, and the experience and expertise that Robert Half’s agents bring to the table to better match employers with job seekers.

For job seekers, Robert Half Direct also helps answer a potentially nagging, nerve-wracking question: “Where am I in the hiring process?” And because all applicants and employers are using the same system — and benefitting from the same Salesforce-driven performance improvements — James said during the session that “we know what our end-user experience is everywhere in the world.”

Robert Half Today

Today, Robert Half has almost one billion rows and more than 10,000 users on the Salesforce platform. By default, as in all other Salesforce orgs, the data in Robert Half’s org is copied four times over, but the company goes even further to guard against data loss. It uses Odaseva to take incremental snapshot backups of the org throughout the day. At the core of it all is still a customer-first mentality. “We are extremely excited at Robert Half about our future on the Salesforce Platform,” James said.

Key Takeaways

If your company wants to make a similar digital transformation, keep these pointers in mind. They all support the overall goal of putting customers at the center of your business.

  1. Make your technology choice carefully. For Robert Half, the best option was Salesforce, as it prioritizes availability, performance, and security, and provided needed out-of-the-box features and allowed for others to be custom made. Take your time in making your decision, basing it on current and projected needs, because it’s a decision that can have lasting impact. (Remember the decades-old systems that Salesforce replaced at Robert Half?)
  2. Implement monitoring from the start. To track and quickly validate performance, build monitoring into your essential, ongoing businesses processes as early as possible. For your digital transformation to succeed, you must ensure solid user adoption — and a stellar user experience upon adoption.
  3. Manage your org’s data properly. Salesforce provides some basic tools for backing up your data, but given that it is your data, carefully evaluate your specific backup and recovery needs. If you need to, use one of the AppExchange’s many third-party backup and recovery tools, such as Odaseva.
  4. Develop a clear and robust multi-product strategy. After your company successfully merges multiple systems into a single system, it will probably still need multiple products to conduct its range of business activities. Research beforehand which products do and don’t work well together and any integration work that you might need to do.
  5. Establish and follow a solid governance model. Don’t allow for too much user choice or freedom in your org. For example, if you have multiple established workflows for the same processes, users might become confused. And if you allow employees to access records that they don’t need, you might end up adding noise to their workday — and potentially affect your business’s security or compliance. Ensure that your org properly reflects and enforces how employees actually work and that it supports them in their day-to-day jobs, which will also make feature adoption easier.

Check out the recording of the Robert Half’s Journey to Implementing High Availability, Performance, & Security session.

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