Project Management

Hudson Microsites (Client Focus) – 2010

Completed: January 2010

Challenge
At the height of the economic meltdown of 2009, Hudson North America restructured its sales teams to focus on local geographies and industry specializations. With this restructure came a laser focus on new business development within our most profitable businesses. Our websites were not reflective of the new business structure, nor the solutions that could help customers in the market environment. The sites were built without Search Engine Optimization in mind, and therefore did not rank for phrases that could generate inbound leads. Our online presence needed a facelift to drive new business, fast.

Strategy
With a limited budget and timeframe to market what is 4 separate lines of business, we developed a microsite template that could serve the needs of 4 distinctly different market segments. We retained an SEO consulting firm to advise us during content development to ensure that pages focused on new business keywords, and were coded with search crawlers in mind.

Over a 4 month span, we revised or developed the content for 4 microsites, each dedicated to attracting new business to our service offerings. I focused the information architecture and creative on the best sales asset that we had – our case studies. By showcasing real solutions to past client problems, I hoped to build immediate trust with our audience.

Hudson IT Microsite Home Page thumbnailHudson Financial Solutions Microsite Home Page thumbnailHudson Legal Microsite Homepage thumbnaillHudson RPO Website Homepage thumbnail

Please visit the websites online to see more of our evolving client acquisition strategy.

Results
The effort resulted in a dramatic increase in Search Engine presence. Traffic to our sites from search engines increased 40-60% over prior year.
Web Traffic from Search
A 30% increase of new leads came in from our websites over the prior year. Even though true ROI calculations and additional sales processes to support web leads are in the future, the sites were perceived as a business driver within the company. This set the stage for future investment in technology and marketing to push the sites further.

Categories: Information Architecture, Interactive Strategy, Project Definition, Project Management, Social Media, Web User Interfaces | No Comments »

Hudson SharePoint Intranet (MOSS 2007)

Completed: June 2009

Challenge
When Hudson became an independent public company in 2003, it launched a global intranet on a 3rd party CMS dedicated primarily to delivering Company News from the top. In addition, a hastily launched “communities” platform based on WSS 3.0 had shown the company the potential of collaborative technologies to manage projects and encourage user participation. By 2007, much had changed; from user expectations and web technology to Hudson’s own business model and management structure. With this backdrop we embarked on a project to replace Hudson’s Intranet with a modern approach that could meet the current and future business needs of the company.

User Research
We wanted to redesign the Intranet with user research at the center of our decision making. So, we began by engaging an ethnographic research firm to help us interview and observe the work habits of a cross-section of our user population from administrators through to VP’s of sales. We found the following user themes:

  • I read the news on the homepage, what else is there?
  • I’d rather call someone than use the intranet
  • I don’t see anything relevant to my job
  • It’s easier to find people in Outlook

Design
Using the research and the realities of an obsolete platform with no development support as the business case for proceeding with the project, we began the design process. We partnered with an external agency to augment our internal team for information architecture and wireframes. Only a month after the official release of MOSS 2007, our lead developer built a “Show Car” on a sandbox MOSS server to prove our vision and further refine our requirements. At this point in the middle of 2007, we could point people to the vision, but had huge doubts about our ability to roll the project into our internal infrastructure.

InSite 2004-2009 (replaced)InSite 2009 Home PageTeam Sites at the center of the user experienceImproved Intranet Search

Development/Beta Launch
With many web development and business priorities competing for attention through 2007 and 2008 we continued to chip away at the coalition building and hardware investments it would take to make the intranet a reality. During that time our CIO commandeered resources to clean up Active Directory and build out a development, staging, and production environment. At the same time the marketing team worked on final branding templates, content strategy, information architecture and Senior Management buy-in. Site development, including the heroic task of customizing Sharepoint templates, building custom webparts and configuring servers began in October 2008. The end result was a Beta Launch of InSite in June of 2009, 8 months later. We used the following Camtasia Video to communicate the exciting launch of what should prove to be a major leap in productivity for the company.

The Future
In the next 2-3 months we expect InSite to come out of beta and be every person’s homepage. After the platform is fully vetted in North America, we plan on deploying the project globally to fully replace the aging current platform.

Categories: Information Architecture, Knowledge Sharing, Project Definition, Project Management, Usability/Research, Web User Interfaces | No Comments »

Hudson Job Distribution System

Completed: March 2009

Challenge
Job candidates are the raw materials of the recruiting business. Without a steady supply of human resources, a staffing firm cannot deliver its products: filled job openings for clients. The supply chain is often fulfilled online through the use of job advertisements on websites like Monster and CareerBuilder. These ads cost millions of dollars yet their expense, deployment and effectiveness are difficult to manage. In a tough economic climate Hudson needed a way to manage job ad costs while gaining an understanding of the ROI.

Our other challenges included recruiter productivity loss, difficulty in achieving OFCCP compliance, and out of date website software which made jobs on our own site invisible to search engines.

Strategy
We convened a cross-functional team of marketing, IT, senior leadership and field recruiting professionals to establish a more efficient way of posting jobs and processing candidates. I documented requirements for all of the affected constituents then evaluated our own systems and additional vendors that could optimize each step of the workflow. The resulting systems map led us to the following:

  • Front-Office/ATS enhancement. We needed to create new candidate processing, job posting and OFCCP compliance modules for PeopleSoft and our home-grown Applicant Tracking System.
  • Job Distribution. Having one piece of software to post job ads to multiple websites while measuring the traffic to each ad was crucial. For this we chose First Advantage Postmaster
  • Website Rebuild. Creating an SEO-optimized portal for job postings on our own website would reduce our reliance on high-priced job boards. For this, we chose OptiJob.

Through a 4 month development process that involved coordinating vendors, contractors, training, and line of business teams we launched a functioning system on March 1, 2009.

PeopleSoft Job Ad Posting to FirstAdvantage Postmaster LXHudson Jobs Portal SEOPostMaster-Job Board Reporting

Results
We won’t fully understand the impact of this project for a few months, but we will review the following metrics.

  • Recruiter/Staff Productivity. Having a single location to post from instead of individual logins will save certain staff hundreds of hours of work. The additional media buying knowledge of the ad agency should reduce time spent chasing media contracts.
  • Job Ad Effectiveness. Consistent review of job ad ROI (number of impressions, number of applicants, number of hires) from ads across our different placements will help to direct investment to the right media.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Increased search engine visibility should allow for decreased need for job board expenses.
  • OFCCP Compliance. A process that helps recruiters comply with government regulations should assist in obtaining more government contract work.

Categories: Information Architecture, Interactive Strategy, Project Definition, Project Management | 1 Comment »

Hudson Recruitment Blog: IT Hire Wire

Completed: July 2008

Challenge
While Hudson maintained a professional informational web presence for many years, 2007 marked the year that social media began to change the expectations of the candidate and client marketplace for recruitment firms. The market, especially candidates, demanded more transparent and direct contact with real people within their potential recruiting partner. Hudson needed to develop a new approach to online interaction that would address this shift in the market.

Strategy
In early 2007, I started an intense research phase into social media to get first hand knowledge of the latest tools. I familiarized myself with WordPress and various social websites like MyBlogLog, Del.icio.us, RSS feeds, Twitter, and Facebook. This resulted in my new personal blog and a blogroll filled with competitive sites that I admire.

With this as a backdrop, I lobbied hard for a blog project. In November of 2007, we brought in an agency to make sure we set the cultural groundwork properly within Hudson, and to have enough resources to complete the project on top of an already heavy load. We chose our IT practice to pilot the program because we felt the target audience was most comfortable with blogs. At the same time our IT recruiters were likely to be the most blog-savvy of our employee population.

Creative Direction
We differentiated the site’s look from the many tech news or gadget blogs out there and, at the same time did not take ourselves too seriously. We ended up with a theme that evoked the balance of work, life, and the technical knowledge it takes for a successful IT career. Rather than align the site with the Hudson domain, we chose a separate URL http://ithirewire.com that would allow for an independent voice from our corporate brand while providing good link building SEO for our corporate websites.

IT Hire Wire Editorial

Results
The IT Hire Wire blog launched on July 1, 2008. Since that time it has gained steadily in traffic, comments and candidate leads to recruiters. For recruiters and guest bloggers who contributed content, the blog is highly ranked in Google for their personal brands. The blog is likely to drive future web strategy for the company toward a more customer driven experience, locally and in international markets.

Visit the blog at http://ithirewire.com

Categories: Interactive Strategy, Project Definition, Project Management, Social Media | No Comments »

Hudson Legal Career Center Sponsorship

Completed: March 2007

Challenge
In 2006, Hudson Legal became one of the largest legal staffing firms in North America. Built on strong client relationships and a track record of high consultant satisfaction, the business grew to be the highest volume producer in Hudson North America. However, it was still a relatively unknown brand within the candidate community. With a very limited marketing budget, we needed an effective way to build the Hudson Legal brand within the candidate market.

Strategy
In close partnership with Monster, we negotiated a portion of our 2007 job board budget to be used for a pure brand-building program. We identified an information void for legal professionals within their Career Advice section and scoped a suite of content ranging from articles, a virtual interview, and podcasts to provide a hub of information for prospective legal talent coming to Monster. Hudson Legal recruiting consultants also agreed to host and moderate a message board where legal talent can discuss the next steps in their career. In exchange for co-developed content, Monster offered an extensive traffic driving program of banner ads, e-mail marketing, newsletter sponsorships, SEO, and PR to quickly build an audience.

Monster Legal Career Center Home Page ThumbnailMonster Legal Message Board ThumbnailMonster Legal Podcast Thumbnail

Results
Over 50,000 visits per month to the Legal channel far surpassed the amount of traffic to our own website. Within those visits, millions of media impressions of Hudson banners were shown to users generating a very favorable clickthrough rate. The message board has ushered in a more transparent way for Hudson Legal to interact with candidates online and has built a comfort level with even more social networking ventures in the future. The name recognition and feedback from candidates and competitors has been very strong.

The sponsorship ended on March 1, 2008.

Categories: Interactive Strategy, Project Management | No Comments »

Hudson Employment Index Website

Completed: June 2005

Challenge
In 2004, the Hudson Employment Indexsm was established as a key Public Relations tool for Hudson North America. After a year, it had gained a foothold in the media community as a valuable indicator of job market strength. Originally, the data was delivered with a barebones website, rudimentary database, and static press releases from our PR Agency. In 2005, to further penetrate key markets where Hudson desired visibility, the Index survey information was sliced into 11 metropolitan market, 8 state, and 7 occupational categories. The website now needed to accomodate 26X the amount of information it had in the past, while making it manageable for a small internal staff to keep updated.

Strategy
Our strategy streamlined nearly every step of the Index delivery process to maximize efficiency including:

  • Creating a Data Loader to parse incoming Excel sheets from our data gathering vendor into a SQL database that could drive multiple html page views.
  • Building more attractive Flash based graphs derived from XML views of the raw data.
  • Restructuring site navigation to provide fast access to information by market
  • Integrating the Lyris ListManager email marketing engine to handle subscriptions to the monthly online media kit
  • Templating the pages within our CMS so that they could be easily updated from month to month.
Hudson Employment Index HomepageEmail Subscriptions for Hudson IndexSurvey Data Loader for Hudson Employment Index

Results
Since the site re-launch the Hudson Employment Index has had a steady increase in covereage by major national and regional media outlets including TV, radio, newspaper, and internet. Within 3 months the internal delivery process became a well-oiled machine. The Hudson Employment Indexsm and its associated website received many industry accolades including:

The research and website were discontinued in February 2008.

Categories: Information Architecture, Interactive Strategy, Project Management | No Comments »

JIU Online Open House

Completed: January 2003

Challenge
In 2000 Jones International University was one of many in a new crop of for profit, all-online universities offering real degrees over the internet. By 2002, the simple hook of getting a degree online wasn’t enough to increase enrollment numbers. JIU wanted to use e-mail marketing to reach potential students and give them the experience of interacting with its sophisticated online learning system. Coupled with the emergence of online chat, the University asked TMP to help deliver a compelling Open House experience online to reach the most prospects as cost effectively as possible.

Strategy
The core IT team at JIU built and supported an Online Learning System that the entire student body and faculty used for class registration, participation, and graduation. The admissions marketing team proposed using this same system to interact with prospects in an Open House. TMP needed to build an Open House information site, registration and e-mail marketing system to get prospects to the event. On the date and time of the event, prospects would then use the Online Learning system to chat and interact with admissions staff, current students, faculty, and alumni in Q&A sessions. The entire experience was designed to introduce candidates to the online learning experience and convince them that an MBA could be attained online at a fraction of the cost and inconvenience of attending an offline campus.

JIU Online Open House Flow DiagramJIU Online Open House Screen SchematicJIU Online Open House HomeJIU Online Open House Back-end

I worked as the project’s Information Architect to assist the creative and development teams build a solution with the following components:

  • Information website with only the “right” content to motivate a student to explore more via an open house
  • Custom e-mail marketing engine that took qualified names from the admissions marketing database and solicited registration for the open house
  • Back-end user interface to allow JIU Admissions staff to easily setup new events, track registrations, and send reminders.
  • Online Open House User Interface within the Online Learning System to facilitate the chat and provide information to the prospects, then ultimately motivating students to Enroll.

The client did the project right by funding proper usability testing so that we could ensure the workflow for both admissions staff and propsects was as natural as possible. Working with a branding agency as well as the local IT department many kinks were worked out during testing and it made the staff much more confortable in administering the real open houses.

Results
Online Open Houses became a fixture of the admissions marketing process at JIU. The client experienced excellent enrollment rates after them. Continued enhancements to the e-mail marketing and registration systems were created to allow more frequent events to drive even more conversions.

Categories: Information Architecture, Interactive Strategy, Project Definition, Project Management | No Comments »

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