New Zealand Defence Force uses digital employees to recover 3500 hours of civilian recruitment time

Protecting the national security of New Zealand


The Customer

In today’s fast-paced world organisations are constantly looking for innovative ways to optimise their processes and stay ahead of the competition. This military organisation is no exception, and with the rise of digital technology, the use of digital twins has become a promising tool for understanding and managing change.

This case study explores how the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) used a digital twin to gain valuable insights into the civilian recruitment process to enable the team to optimise the process, reducing low value transactional work and enabling increased effort to be focussed on attracting and supporting the best talent.

The Challenge

Civilian recruitment is a small team in the Defence Recruiting Unit dedicated to helping source the best civilian talent for NZDF.  The small team manages the recruitment process from attraction and sourcing through evaluation and negotiation to supporting a new employee as they start their new job with Defence.

Civilians play an important role in the NZDF often filling specialist roles that enable the Military to focus on the front-end military operations. In this post-pandemic world, competition for talent is fierce, the -Great resignation’, along with the increase in demand for top skills to support transformation efforts has opened the market to a range of exciting opportunities. Defence, like many others, is being challenged to think differently about how it recruits and how it can streamline the process.  In this climate, speed matters.

The Solution

By modelling the Digital Twin of the process, the team was able to identify opportunities to streamline and optimise its process. By taking the time to understand the necessary content at each stage, the team was able to eliminate duplicated efforts and simplify the process. Understanding what content was needed to progress any stage provided the knowledge to avoid duplication and reduce the steps necessary for success. From here automation using Digital Employees was used to remove significant amounts of admin tasks, reducing the time from role requirement to role establishment.

The Benefits

Removing administration tasks has enabled the team to apply its passion and available effort to aspects of the process which creates a better experience for the applicant. Deploying Robotic Process Automation has recovered 3,500 hours in two areas of the overall process. This available time ensures that as recruitment numbers rise, the team is in a great place to meet that need. Now it can start to add more value; managing a talent pool and multi-lingual applications are just two areas which are being developed.

Defence House Wellington

Seeing the way we work built before our eyes helped us to understand the interaction our team has with one another and how we can make incremental changes to improve the outcomes we deliver into the business.

Senior Recruitment Advisor

NZDF colour logo

The NZDF Story

The Civilian Recruitment team in NZDF manages the recruitment of a large number of civilians into   the organisation each year. This number is on the increase, but the resources available to manage the increase are not.

To understand where and what to change, the team invested in a Digital Twin   of the Organisation value modelling exercise to capture exactly what they do today in order to analyse and identify a better future.

The current state captured the recruitment process; role definitions, advertising, sifting application sifting, planning and organising interviews, securing references, job offer development. notification of the role is undertaken by a small team of expert recruitment advisors, using email, documents and manual interventions to keep things moving.

The manual way of working means we spend time administering content rather than adding value to it. Removing that work means we can deliver a better service. Emma – Recruitment Manager

As the digital twin captures how work is done, the result gives the evidence of the cost and impact of continuing to do things the same way.  These insights helped get the team on the same page and set the scene for a visioning exercise which captured a future state.  This showed where admin activities were reduced freeing up time for the team to perform value-add activities to get the right people in the door faster.

When the current state was compared to the future state using LINQ’s insights, this showed an opportunity to remove over 9,000 hours of primarily admin tasks from the recruitment team. This was 9,000 hours which could be applied to value-adding recruitment work, such as multi-language job adverts, managing a talent pool, removing unconscious bias from adverts or researching new ways to improve access to interview for diverse groups of potential employees.

Realistically, this future state is a longer-term project that has dependencies on other ICT investments, so the team then brainstormed some transition states, things it could do within its control with minimal investment. Removing administrative tasks from the process became a focus, freeing up time to enable recruitment experts to be recruitment experts.

In the current state most of the content was templated and well defined. This enabled a transition state to be created which used ‘Digital Employees’ to perform repetitive and manual tasks. These Digital Employees can perform a defined workflow using rules to automate the same steps that a recruitment specialist does with a human in the loop checking to enable confidence in the process. To enable confidence to grow, the ‘Bot’ accesses rules which define the presentation of content and how to compile information packs from available sources for presentation to preferred candidates.

A business case was created for two initiatives, one at either end of the recruitment process. Initiative One dealt with job advertising and Initiative Two with the candidate job offer. The business case was approved, and the implementation completed. Analysis of the ‘as-built’ state has shown that nearly 3,500 hours have been able to be re-applied from these two initiatives creating a strong desire to continue the change process and realise further savings.

Having ‘digital employees’ do the manual work and generate job adverts instantly gives us the time to focus on getting the best candidate for the job. Emma – Recruitment Manager

Using the digital twin to model the current and potential future states enables a business case to be formed quickly based on facts.  The team can see what the cost and impact of how they do things today, with the ability to be part of a future state design. This helps with the change management aspect where the team becomes aware of the need for change, can articulate the areas of pain and be part of a future state design.  Additionally, the model articulates requirements for the implementation while giving the necessary context of how the system is to be used.