About two months after launching a $125,000 new online job-application system, Kansas University is preparing to scrap it and find a new solution.
In his biweekly electronic newsletter to faculty and staff last week, KU Provost Jeff Vitter wrote that the new system, which the university licensed from Oracle Corp., had fallen short of expectations and led to a "frustrating" situation.
"It is clear that the Oracle talent acquisition management module (TAM) is not how we want to present KU to prospective faculty and staff," Vitter wrote.
A bit more than 10 percent of people who'd tried to apply for faculty or staff jobs during the system's first few weeks were unable to finish their applications, Vitter wrote.
Diane Goddard, KU's vice provost for administration and finance, said the system had proven confusing for people not familiar with the university. Applicants have had trouble locating the specific job listings they were interested in, she said, and some have also struggled to upload resumés and other application materials.
"This is sometimes the first interaction that somebody may have with the university," Goddard said, "and so you want that front door to be very intuitive, very welcoming. And this particular module just isn't doing it."
The new system went into place in early October, alongside a new electronic human resources and payroll system on campus. Both those changes were a few years in the making, she said. KU paid about $126,000 to license the system from Oracle.
Goddard said the hope was that the new Oracle system would make the online application process more intuitive and simple, but it has become clear that hasn't been the case.
"It's just not as easy to use as I would like," Goddard said.
The KU provost's office is taking steps to make sure that searches for faculty members in particular aren't harmed by the system's struggles, she said. The office has set up a separate online page (facultydevelopment.ku.edu/faculty-searches) listing all open faculty jobs, saving applicants the trouble of searching for positions using the Oracle system.
The office is also accepting faculty applications through email, as a way around the online system. And it's offering to pay for departments to re-advertise faculty jobs, though so far only one has accepted the offer, Goddard said.
Faculty recruitment tends to be in full swing this time of year, she said. KU is also seeking to fill 64 newly created faculty positions in its first wide-scale recruiting effort since the mid-2000s.
In his letter last week, Vitter said Goddard and others were working to put a "long-term solution" in place by the end of the academic year.
Goddard said her office had already begun looking for alternative systems. One vendor offered a system that appears promising, she said, and news on that front may be available within a few weeks.
"We obviously want to make a very good decision on this one," Goddard said.
She said university staff had worked hard to put the new system in place, but the lesson she'd taken away was that the staff would need to examine future application systems thoroughly from the perspective of future applicants, and not just from the perspective of the university.
"This one touches so many people who are not already a part of our community," Goddard said.