This summer, with Excella’s support, the Office of Personnel Management’s USA Staffing Onboarding module was awarded the “2020 ACT-IAC Igniting Innovation Award” by the American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) at its annual Igniting Innovation Conference. In addition to the grand prize, the OPM solution was honored with the “Transformer Award” which recognizes the successful transformation or extension of an existing capability, resulting in new or broadened applicability and use. The award-winning USA Staffing module, built by government for government, bested 39 other products submitted by corporate and government innovators including Google, Accenture, Lockheed Martin, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Defense.
Overall, the USA Staffing talent acquisition system automates the complex federal hiring process from recruitment through onboarding. This includes capturing the need for a new position to be filled, drafting announcement and application content to be posted to the USAJOBS Seeker Portal, collecting over 250,000 applications a week for positions across the Federal Government, sorting, reviewing, ranking applications that can be shared with Hiring Managers to make a selection, and finally guiding selected new hires through the onboarding process which extends beyond their first day on the job. USA Staffing has revolutionized the ability of agencies across government to assess the best applicants for a given position and hire employees faster and more efficiently than ever before. For the past decade, Excella has supported many of these key functions of the USA Staffing system, including the award-winning Onboarding component.
First released in June of 2011, the Onboarding module has been consistently adapted and modernized to meet the growing number of agency requirements for an automated, standardized onboarding capability. New Hires are presented with an automated forms process that allows them to efficiently complete forms on-line by answering an “ask once, use many” customized questionnaire. HR specialists may initiate and monitor the New Hire’s progression and provide final signoff on completed tasks. The Onboarding module is seamlessly integrated with the main staffing functions of USA Staffing and is designed to accommodate agencies’ unique onboarding processes. In addition, Onboarding has integrated agencies identity management and credentialing systems via a New Hire Interconnection that sends captured new hire data securely to the systems previously requiring duplicative manual entry of employee information. The USA Staffing Onboarding module routinely receives scores of over 90 in Foresee surveys that cover many government systems; a score that is rarely matched by few other systems built by and for government.
Excella is proud to have been USA Staffing’s partner in conceiving, deploying, enhancing, and maintaining this award-winning Onboarding component for its entire lifespan. For over a decade, Excella has helped map out the functional components that would enable the Onboarding module to balance meeting the requirements necessary to connect the system to the Electronic Official Personnel Folder (a critical component for saving government time and money) with the need for system flexibility inherent to the divergent needs of agencies across the Federal government. Excella informed the “ask once, use many” forms development approach that allows for quick and accurate information dissemination. We likewise championed the adoption of an agile/ scrum delivery methodology that expeditiously delivers high value capabilities to customers long before it became ubiquitous in government. Over the years, Excella team members have been asked to serve as team Product Owner, in addition to many other essential roles supporting the USA Staffing product. Finally Excella worked with USA Staffing customers to identify and promote uses for the module beyond its original intent — be it to support permanent change of station requirements at the Department of Defense or outline enhancements that will soon allow the completion of New Hire interconnections with standard, onboarding adjacent systems like E-Verify, National Background Investigation Services (NBIS), and the Selective Service System.
While Excella is extraordinarily proud of its efforts on behalf of the USA Staffing Program Office and its support of the broader Federal HR community, our contributions were only possible due to the following items that make the USA Staffing team a model for the rest of government:
A commitment to maintaining “one team” philosophy
The USA Staffing team consists of a geographically dispersed group of federal employees, contractors from multiple companies, and other HR oriented stakeholders that engage from across government. Despite the difference in time zones, backgrounds or reporting structures, the team works together to consistently come to agreement on priorities, resolve conflicts quickly, and routinely create a system to simultaneously deliver quality features for individual customer agencies while ensuring a product that works for all of government.
“I’ve been on this team for over nine years and have spent countless evenings, overnights, and weekends working with the ASMG Product Owners and Business Analysts. We are a very close-knit group. It never occurs to us that we aren’t one united team supporting an essential mission.”
A willingness to listen, learn, and adapt to stakeholders and priorities
The USA Staffing team frequently meets with customers via Joint Application Design (JAD) sessions, user group sessions and other forums to gather requirements, share enhancement requests, and brief on upcoming features. The team’s development approach using Agile methodology allows them to release new functionality every four weeks and quickly get feedback from key stakeholders and adjust priorities as needed. A longtime customer of USA Staffing had this to say about the development process and partnership with USA Staffing:
“We are extremely happy as your customer. That happiness extends to the overall product, the personalized support, the development process, the level of individual attention to our agency needs, the speed in which new features are added. In a nutshell, everything that you guys have done, continue to do, and the upcoming attractions. This is unique in the world of government systems. Development and release of features NEVER happens this quickly. It really is a pleasure to be part of this. I greatly appreciate everyone’s efforts and can-do spirit. I will continue to ask for all things I think are possible, and I appreciate that you and your teams are always open to exploring my crazy ideas for the “next best thing.”
A dedication to the mission of recruiting the best possible government workforce
The USA Staffing team takes seriously its mission to support improvements in Federal recruitment and hiring. While USA Staffing must recoup its operational costs through the sale of software licenses and other financial arrangements, the development and delivery teams that Excella support are uniformly focused on helping the Federal HR community improve their ability to attract the best and brightest into Federal service. This means focusing on efforts to focus HR employee time and skills on high value tasks, capturing essential data to support executive decision making, advocating for policy and regulatory changes that will improve talent acquisition, and minimizing time and dollar costs to recruit, hire, and onboard the next generation of Federal civil servants. The USA Staffing Program Manager perhaps said it best:
“Team members within the USA Staffing program work across functions to develop a quality solution to ensure that the best and brightest are recruited for the federal government workforce. Account Managers work closely with Business Analysts to ensure customer needs are translated into high value functionality. The User Support teams collaborates with Business Analysts and development teams to identify, track and resolve issues quickly, thus allowing Agencies and New Hires to return to normal operations expeditiously. Data analysts work to tell the story of USA Staffing’s value and to ensure customers have the information they need to drive key decisions and reduce the time it takes to recruit and hire quality personnel. In the case of Onboarding, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Team members have helped to demo, sell, test, implement, enhance, repair and troubleshoot Onboarding over many years. USA Staffing is indeed an award-winning technology solution. But, more so, USA Staffing is a team of talented and dedicated people who give the technology life and keep it on the cutting edge.”