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Wednesday, Mar 10, 2004

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Vet before you net!

Ambar Singh Roy

This business school is doing things differently. Companies planning to visit its campus can access student profiles online before they come visiting. And students can apply online and view their status in the recruitment process.

TECHNOLOGY cannot go places unless users want to be on the move too.

Take, for instance, XLRI Jamshedpur which has been leveraging existing and emerging technologies for process improvement in-house. Among its latest initiatives is the attempt to replace the paper-based placement process with an online campus placement system. The new system, which has been launched on a limited scale this year, is intended to greatly enhance the efficiency of the placement process.

Says Father Thomas P.D., Director of XLRI Jamshedpur: "The system is designed to enable companies to access student profiles online before their representatives plan their visit to the campus. It also enables students to apply online and view their status in the recruitment process". The initiative is also intended to help avoid "wasteful expenditure" in as much as companies will be able to search and view student profiles, process job applications and schedule placement activity prior to their campus visit. Information about participating companies will be available online to the students, along with links to the Web sites of the companies.

"We have to be in tune with the developments of our times and try to be ahead of the rest in all the technology-centric initiatives that we take", says Father Thomas, adding that the generation of analytical reports on placement patterns will facilitate better planning and execution of the placement exercise. Father Thomas, however, agrees that the online campus placement system is "impersonal to a certain extent" but not entirely devoid of the human touch. "After all, as an institute, we are known more for our focus on human resources programmes than anything else," he avers.

The online campus placement system is a "student-driven initiative supported by the administration" and has been put in place with technical support from the Chennai-based Blueshift India Pvt Ltd. In place since November 2003, the system is for the final placements now and will continue until March this year. In the months ahead, the system will be used for the summer placements as well.

Earlier, in 2001, the B-School was among the first to take student applications online. This was followed by an online management system in 2002. Several companies also give pre-placement talks through video conferencing. In the current year, XLRI plans to hold online admission tests as well. Library facilities are available online and so are journals. Satellite-based academic programmes are spread across 34 cities in India.

According to Aneesh Banerjee, Secretary of XLRI's Placement Committee, the online campus placement system will facilitate better process co-ordination, speed up communications, help recording and reporting of placement data and help cut down time-consuming, paper-based activity.

Several companies have evinced interest in the online campus placement system, including Infosys, SBI Capital Markets, Polaris Software, Standard Chartered Bank and Patni Computers. Says Banerjee: "This is a first-of-its-kind initiative and needs to be pushed before it gains in popularity. It is especially advantageous for companies whose HR departments are spread across multiple locations. Students' CVs can be short-listed at multiple locations and companies can save time by having simultaneous interfaces with students through video conferencing."

The initiative has already found favour with companies with some trying it out "in parallel with the normal recruitment process". It is hoped that, in the next couple of years, the entire recruitment process at XLRI will go online.

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