News & Views
Evolving, but staying true to what HARBOUR has always been & will always be… daring to care. 

post by Alex Hens - CEO; Founder; (self-titled) Solutionista

For a long time now (15 years) we’ve been doing business and building systems in a certain way. A way where the customer is always right – where the customer gets pretty much whatever they ask for. A bespoke facility… that fits perfectly. Thing is, sometimes the way you do things isn’t necessarily the right way for everyone… you know… when you step back and have a good look at it. And if we had our time again… well… perhaps we’d have given a few more “hard no’s” – or at least made it all the clearer what long-term impacts would be for working around some entirely singular piece of functionality in future system expansions.

I mean don’t get me wrong - we loved rising to the challenge for Deloitte to deliver super-rich functionality for engaging, timesheeting, tracking & billing associates for one particular part of their business, in the process saving them £hundreds of thousands – and I’m sure they loved the fact that our hunger to prove ourselves delivered it at an absolute steal for 6+ years.

If you’re top 3 in terms of supermarkets in the UK and you’re about to turn a significant part of your in-store offer on its head, whilst at the same time massively expanding your online offering, well… that’s A LOT of staff change around needed. Staff change-around where you not only want to keep staff engaged and excited by new opportunities, but you also want to be fair beyond reproach – and ensure that you honour your commitments and legal obligations throughout the process, with Unions keeping a watchful eye to ensure that. Well you ain’t getting that “outta the box” / “off the peg”. Building such a technical solution, with the experience that we bring in candidate first, technological solutions – genuinely I don’t think there is anyone else out there that could have pulled off what we built . Certainly not in the time or to the scale or indeed with actual praise from the affiliated unions in regards to the execution as a “bow on top” for the whole delivery.

Tailoring Metaphor: The Art and Pitfalls

But bespoke is all well and good – and it can be very VERY good – but if you’ve ever had any bespoke tailoring done then you’ll know that… well… things change. Take for example a wedding suit / dress that fitted you like a glove 5-10-15+ years ago. Now it might well be that you can still rock it – and for that I applaud you – but for many, well, life simply hasn’t gone that way. Or even if you do fit in it and it gets a regular airing, well, it just gets worn. All facts of life.

But the thing is… tailoring is a skill. It takes time, attention to detail and love of what in many ways is an art form. And that time and effort has to be paid for. And if the tailor / dress maker you used originally was more focussed on the love of the creation than the long-term viability... well… things have changed for them too. Which of course isn’t a problem if you realise that in buying this one-off creation you were getting it at a steal, and to keep and build on that uniqueness was a value worth investing in… but in a world of fast moving everything, maybe you’re not as wedded (pun only slightly intended) to the uniqueness that you once felt as a non-negotiable.

Or if looking for something new today then you’re happy with tailored rather than bespoke – but you can see the difference between “fast-fashion variants” and something put together with care.

Introducing 'Dare' as a distinct approach

That’s why 2024 is the year when HARBOUR changed – but did so that we could stay the same.

Last week we launched our new look website (not to be confused with the NewLook careers website that we’ve had a hand in for many a year now ;) – and in it we’re for the first time making a clear distinction between bespoke and tailored solution approaches, or, as we’ve termed it: ‘Dare '.

Our more “off the peg – with tailoring” solution approach is unapologetically setting out our stall as the best-in-class ATS solution for compliance focussed recruiting organisations. Primarily this means healthcare, but in a world where capture of full candidate information and a thoroughly vetted background check is a legal requirement more than simply a “nice to have” – well, our feature-rich facility ticks boxes that the competition simply don’t even have on a road map. From Hiring Manager focussed portals to speed up processing and improve engagement to pre-interview full details capture that will help ensure time to start post offer is slashed (we’ve been doing this for years and have seen clients seeing times slashed in half). And with contract acceptance, online reference collection & collation and interfaces that plug beautifully into Digital ID / DBS type 3rd parties (aka 'point solutions'), let alone a rich experience of deep HRMS (aka 'HCM') integrations – well, it smashes it, all with a unified, audit-rich, PDF packaged bow on top.

House Building analogy anyone? Why not

Let’s look at this another way.

We’re very proud to have along working relationships with two of the UKs leading house builders in Redrow and Taylor Wimpey. Their plans and the building that come from them are watertight (metaphorically AND literally). And you can choose from a range of styles and fit-outs and bedrooms and … and … and…  That’s kinda what we’re gonna be focussing onin “standard but never standard” ATS roll-outs going forward . Tell us what your needs are and we’ll show you how we’d configure a HARBOUR solution to fit what we heard from your brief. And we’ll deliver that with the same pride and passion that comes with any HARBOUR execution – and we’ll support you with our unflinching mission of ‘dare to care’.

But maybe you don’t want 3,4 or 5 bedrooms. Maybe you want a swimming pool from the get-go. Maybe your dream house doesn’t just have a kick-ass kitchen looking over a herb garden, but you want an conservatory that will catch the evening sun on one side of the property with a home-office the other that catches the morning rays. As you can tell – I don’t work for either Taylor Wimpey or Redrow, but hopefully it gives you the idea of where ‘Dare’ sits in regards to our offer.

'Dare' in Action: When solutions go beyond ‘run of the mill’

Now whilst we’re only now categorising solutions in this way, allow me to set out some more modest examples of where a ‘Dare’ approach has delivered exceptionally tailored functionality for some of our clients – so I don’t mean huge entirely one-off behemoths of a facility.

Midland Heart  are a client where it’s fair to say our offering has grown over the years we’ve worked together. First off it was just a rudimentary ATS. They trusted us to deliver their onboarding experience – straight forward enough, although of course highly tailored to their capture requirements, candidate experience specifics and plugging into their HRMS. But their vacancy authorisation steps – hmmmm – there was a very clear and very specific process flow required there dependent on which one of 4 types of role replacement was being requested, as well as back-linking to the HRMS to ensure the information would be correct at the culmination of the recruitment process and the Hiring Manager had full accountability right from the get-go. Nuanced work, but work it does, and with the simplicity of the Hiring Manager Portal ensuring that managers who might only need to use the system intermittently wouldn’t get lost in another “specialist system”. Furthermore the addition of an induction planner into the portal lifted starter experience to next level. This is our ‘Dare’ in operation.

Jewish Care on the other hand, a leading health and social care charity for the Jewish community, had a different specific ask. With the Hebrew week starting on Sunday, as opposed to the conventional western Monday-Friday, we were asked if we could re-engineer the facility to not send action-requesting system alerts on non-working days – but ensure that this didn’t impact on candidate communications / interfacing with the system. Sometimes it’s what appears to be a little thing that can count a lot – and although it wasn’t exactly a little thing in terms of changing that functionality – it was something we were not only glad to do, but proud that we could too.

Dare to Care: Our Unflinching Mission

So there you go – hopefully that little ramble through this new categorising of what we do and how we do it goes some way to help explain the change that is and isn’t a change.

Sometimes bespoke is a brand new, working with the architect kinda build – or a dress / suit that starts with a conceptual drawing. But sometimes it’s taking something tried and tested and adding a sunroom extension or a lift or a man / woman cave – or a classic style of outfit that needs an expert’s love and attention to ensure it really does hug you in the right places or draw the eye away from something you simply don’t want the eye drawn to.

Equally there’s nothing wrong with “I’ll have that one” if it suits your needs – but at the very least you know that should, having gotten comfortable with the fit, you decide that you need something “more you”, you’re working with people who, unlike every other ‘out of the box’ provider, are willing to work with you to ensure your ATS – OnBoarding – Interview Scheduling – Reporting – Induction planning – Hiring Manager interfacing – end-to-end recruitment solution delivers for you today, and tomorrow… and tomorrow…

And what we do know – HARBOUR is unique in the market to offer this. To be able to give you the best of what we do, or to literally accommodate anything you dream up We are literally the only ATS that can give you a choice – and if you want to genuinely lead the field in user centric - candidate first execution, then you can’t accept “computer says no”.


Either way we always think it’s best to talk person-to-person, because even if it turns out we’re not right for each other then we know we’ll always learn something from a human interaction rather than simply responding to a form submission or a review of a checklist of functionality. We hope you feel the same way… and if you do, well, we think you’d probably really like our Dare to Care in action too.      

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