Before each departure, HR must organize work permits and visas, ensure medical checks, training, and briefings. All the while, the approximately 200 local employees in Germany and more than 100 fundraisers need to be managed from onboarding to offboarding. Digital HR systems can make this work much easier. In order to meet MSF’s specific requirements, there are two main options to consider when taking a strategic decision on a software provider: a comprehensive HR solution that covers both areas – the normal HR processes and the very specialized matching search process for field staff. The other option is the parallel use of two specialized stand-alone solutions that together map the overall functionality. Both approaches have different advantages and disadvantages that must be balanced against each other. The customer needs to face this central challenge in the project.
Every year, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Germany sends around 200 doctors, nurses, logisticians, and administrators to more than 70 aid projects worldwide. This requires funds and in turn the necessary public awareness. The HR department does play a vital role overall. It identifies and recruits, manages, and supports the employee pool. The matching process for recruiting candidates with regards to aid projects abroad is demanding: not only the technical and medical competence of the applicants need to be taken into account, but also aptitudes such as organizational talent, high resilience, the ability to adapt to difficult situations and special linguistic skills.
The project team identified and analyzed HR processes, collected pain points of current HR activities and ideas to simplify tasks if utilizing a new HR IT system. Through interviews and joint workshops, we gained a deep understanding of the customer’s processes and needs. On this basis, requirements for the new HR system were defined, an extensive list of vendors was contacted with a request for information, and their respective offers were analyzed. Detailed demos and testing opportunities were then organized for the shortlisted solutions. In addition, the team assisted the client with final negotiations and contract validations to take a thoughtful decision on a new HR IT system provider.
The HR IT system is expected to meet the client’s specific requirements for the matching process while providing standard HR functionalities. Automation of repetitive activities and manual processes should relieve HR from standard tasks. As a result, staff will be able to spend more time on their primary task: selecting the right candidates for foreign assignments and preparing them for the demanding and often rather stressful work in crisis areas. Also, MSF’s local employees as well as the fundraisers will get better and more individualized support that way.
Looking at the Future
The lives of thousands of people in disaster and crisis areas depend not only on medical aid on site- but also on the process efficiency of relief organizations. HR is vital in this respect because it is responsible for recruiting the right people – from the doctors for deployment abroad to the fundraisers who help collecting the necessary donations. Accordingly, the HR system must cover all the necessary functionalities for managing the MSF’s international field staff, while also handling daily HR tasks in a user-friendly and intuitive way. The leeway gained can be utilized by Médecins Sans Frontières to pursue its core skill – helping people in need most effectively. Find out more about Social Impact at BCG Platinion.
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