Within any business sector, the recruitment of a new employee will follow a similar formulaic process.
It will start with either an existing job role becoming vacant or an entirely new position being created, which will be followed by a candidate identification process designed to find tailored individuals possessing the relevant skills and experience required to do the job.
If a company doesn’t choose to appoint someone internally, the process of finding suitable candidates may differ – some may outsource to a recruitment agency, others may post a job application and invite candidates to send in their CV, or they may choose to be proactive and headhunt candidates based on their existing knowledge of the people operating in their sector.
Whichever process the company chooses to adopt, it will culminate in a shortlist of candidates being drawn up, whose profile will then be subjected to further detailed analysis. Finally a series of interviews will take place, leading to a final recruitment decision being made.
Now when you consider the processes a football club could look to adopt when recruiting a player, it is very easy to see parallels with the processes adopted in the business world.
For example, they could promote a player internally from their development squad, or they could give a mandate to a third-party to find a number of players that meet their requirements. Or as you will find is the case at most leading clubs, they could monitor key recruitment markets intelligently themselves, through their own scouting and analysis operations, to identify players that fit their requirements.
Where football differs from other sectors though is how the recruitment process can take place over a period spanning several years, based on how a club anticipates its first team squad to evolve. Clubs have to factor in several things when they plan their recruitment, such as the age (and potential declining powers) of their current players, the time remaining on each player’s contract and the possibility of players requesting to leave at any time, so having plans in place to address every eventuality is essential to ensure a club makes good, well-informed decisions in the market, no matter whether the action is required immediately or in five years’ time.
To aid planning, having a variety of internal recruitment shortlists, shared amongst the key decision makers and stakeholders, seems not only logical but an essential business requirement. This would ensure that everyone is fully informed as to which players are being monitored and by whom, as well as acting as a key reference point so that the stakeholders can be confident that there are plans in place for all contingencies.
Player shortlisting is of course not a new phenomenon. As Michael Calvin conveyed in his excellent book ‘The Nowhere Men’, David Moyes’ recruitment staff at Everton had whiteboards adorning all four walls in a private room listing the names of viable recruitment targets, across different markets. Scout7 have also pioneered online recommendation lists through ProScout7, enabling scouts to plot players within a formation page who they wish to highlight to their club.
Having seen the huge value placed in these recommendation lists by Scout7 clients, it has been a high priority for us to introduce shortlist functionality within our new Intelligent Sports Framework. What we have aimed to do is take the best of the existing functionality available in ProScout7 whilst enhancing other areas - offering greater flexibility to senior club staff in managing the lists and to make it easier for club staff to submit their recommendations.
The first iteration of his brand new functionality, delivered as a Shortlist widget, was launched earlier this week, meaning that all clubs using the framework now have the opportunity to migrate their current shortlisting management processes into this environment.
The widget allows the club’s senior staff to create as many different shortlists they need without Scout7’s direct involvement and crucially, set their own access restrictions on their club users, so they can decide which staff can view each shortlist as well as add, edit or remove players.
They can also choose a specific formation template within every list and attach shortlisted players to single or multiple positions, based on the role they envisage each player fitting into their team.
Each position within the formation can also be colour-coded to enhance the visual presentation, and stand-out players can be highlighted using a star icon.
To highlight how the functionality works, I have taken five different ‘Team of the Tournament’ lists from this summer’s World Cup, taken from different sources, and presented them within the widget.
As you can see, different formations have been assigned to some of the lists and this is reflected not only in the position headings, but also in the colours utilised for the different positions. This is all totally customisable, so if the club wants to use different colours or split positions, so that for example full backs have a different colour to central defenders, it can be easily implemented.
There is also no limit on how many players a club can list for each position either. In this example I have only listed one player per position, but if a club wants to list at least five per position to evaluate and compare players in a meeting, it can also be done.
Of course the example has only been used to highlight how the widget presents the information, so in terms of the implementation, a club may want to structure their shortlists in a variety of different ways. They may decide to create different shortlists by division, age, country or region; they may elect to arrange them by short, medium and long-term requirements; or they may just decide to create personal lists for each individual member of staff. Some will choose a blend of each, depending on how far they wish to segment their workflows.
It is this level of customisation that sets the Shortlist widget apart from its predecessor on ProScout7. The club can create their own lists, set access restrictions and change the general display themselves, all of which hasn’t been possible before.
From a user’s perspective, it is also much easier to assign a player to a list. All a user has to do is type in the player’s name and choose their position(s) and they will appear immediately in the list, with a hyperlink that takes you straight to their player record. This process also makes it easier to assign players from tablet devices, such as the iPad and Galaxy Tab.
A user can also add a player to a shortlist directly from his record. As seen in the screenshot for Daley Blind below, all the user has to do is click on the ‘thumbs–up’ icon, choose a list and position and he will immediately appear in the chosen list. When he is assigned it will also appear within the player’s own personal scouting audit on the ISF too, so there is always a record of the date he was added to the shortlist and the name of the member of staff who added him.
So in summary, this new functionality is relevant to all staff involved in each stage of the process: it allows both the scouts working in the field and the technical scouts working with video to highlight the players who have regularly caught their eye, arranged in lists devised strategically by the senior staff based on their recruitment needs.
For the senior stakeholders, it means that they can immediately see at-a-glance which players are on the club’s radar and by clicking on each name, they can reference all the assessment work done on the player internally which justifies their recommendation in the first place.
It means that management processes remain focused, transparent and fully accountable, so that risk in recruitment is limited as far as possible.
For more information on our ISF Player Shortlists, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.