Tech Talent

The guys behind Reliant Live have turned the most pervasive tech element on your desk into your HR department’s dream tool.
Reliant, which provides web-based Strategic Talent Management (STM) solutions and services to more than 1,000 organizations, has built its business on helping its customers “acquire, develop and retain a talented workforce,” said Dr. Chris Wright, Reliant founder, CEO and president.
“In terms of technology, we are leading our field in that everything that we do is Internet-based,” Wright said. “We are a completely web-hosted solution, and we have created our software products using some of the latest technologies.”
To create those products, Reliant relies on the talents of the IT team put together by James Nelsen, CIO and chief architect for the Reliant Live STM Suite of software products.
Nelsen led the development of more than 25 enterprise level applications for Reliant using technologies such as VB, MS SQL Server, MS Access, HTML, ASP, XML, and .NET. Those applications are used by organizations in 70 countries and 20 languages.
Those technologies give Reliant the scalability and the ability to compete with the largest players in the employee management and survey fields.
“For instance, with our survey platform we have collected well over a million surveys in a day,” Nelson said. “We have the technology and the infrastructure to really get after and compete with the SAPs and the really big boys.”
That’s a lofty goal considering SAP is the largest software company in Europe and the third largest in the world with around $12 billion in revenue for 2006.
But Reliant, with an expected $2 million revenue stream for 2007, boasts a growing list of influential clients, including Accounting Principals, The Nordam Group, PennWell Publishing, Bank of Oklahoma, University of Tulsa, University of Illinois, Aramark, Eli Lilly and Co., Sunny Delight, Rolls Royce, Loreal, YMCA, John Zink (A Koch Co.), Sauer-Danfoss, Tulsa Technology Center, Bucknell University and National Pen Canada.
“We just integrated with AdminiStaff, which is one of the larger PEOs, professional employer organizations, in the country,” said Bryan Wempen, vice president of business development. As a reseller of Reliant products, “they are pushing out our assessment solutions and then the survey solutions to availability for their 5,000 clients.”
“Actually, we just signed up NASA,” Wright said. “NASA Jet Propulsion Labs was already a customer, and now NASA is using our survey technology.”

The Edge on Compatibility
Operating with 12 employees at 320 S. Boston Ave., Ste. 1026, Reliant, formed in 2000, offers software solutions for skills testing, behavioral assessments, learning management system, competency models, performance management and employee surveys.
One of the biggest goals for the company has been compatibility.
“When you are dealing with an Internet-based application, you are putting it out there to millions and millions of desktops all over the world, so trying to make it so it works on as many as possible, consistently, in a secure environment, is one of the big differentiators,” said Wempen, whose background is in business development, HR/recruiting and entrepreneurship. “I think we do it a lot better than most.”
Reliant tests its software on a variety of platforms and browsers.
“We have to make sure the products can be accessed by anybody, anywhere, using any type of system – which can be a challenge,” he said.
“In addition, we can integrate with almost any kind of internal HR software that a company may have,” Wright said. “We do that through what’s called an HR XML integration, which is a common schema for the way companies pass information back and forth to each other. We have created our platform to be HR XML compliant with a company’s HR systems like PeopleSoft or EDS.”
Reliant’s survey capabilities are also in demand in the non-profit and academic environments.
“Nonprofits use the survey tool to talk to their membership and gather data so they can direct and course change on executing their mission,” Wempen said. “That’s a huge segment of what we do on the survey side.”
“Professors and faculty members use the tool to help support the research that they are conducting to collect data for articles that they are submitting for publication in journals and so forth,” he said.

Quality Content,
Quality Technology
Reliant strives for innovation and quality in its products, Wright said.
“The content that we developed that is part of all of our technology – our skills tests, our behavioral assessments, our competency models – are things that have taken years, in some cases 5-10 years to develop,” he said.
Wright, who received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Tulsa, has been a frequent presenter, speaker and panelist at conferences such as the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Academy of Management and Society for Human Resource Management. He has published articles in the Journal of Business and Psychology and the Journal of Applied Psychology. He has served as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of Tulsa.
“We are publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals to help validate the development of our models and our products,” he said. “It’s a never-ending process – you are always working to improve your products.”
He said Reliant takes that content and plugs it into to its leading-edge technology, “which also has taken years and years to develop.”
“You really have something special when you combine the scientific products with the really amazing technology,” Wright said. “We are able to deliver that quality content through our technology to customers who are trying to hire better talent, trying to develop better talent and then trying to retain that talent.”
Reliant recently released its STM-Talent Map, which is part of the reporting module and is a first on the market, Wempen said.
The Talent Map enables a client to identify critical HR and talent management data in a real-time presentation.
“You are capturing the data and then you are presenting the data,” Wempen said. “You have to have a very flexible, robust and scalable platform to manage that and present the data at the touch of a button.”
The Talent Map allows a client to search for characteristics and competencies in “very complex organizations,” he said. “You are able to look at an office, select that office and then drill down into very granular information, very specific details on a person that has a certain skill or trade that you are looking for that might be of value for the organization.”

Calculating Cost Savings
Wright said Reliant also has provided the tools for companies to gauge their return on investment in its products.
He said Reliant’s products allow a firm to reduce turnover in critical positions by hiring people who are better suited for those positions; reduce the time to hire, which is going to save money on the recruiting side, and, by reducing turnover, save in terms of lost productivity hours as well as training.
“Those are all really hard costs that an organization is going to be able to save,” he said.
“We have actually created a return on investment calculator based around some of our products,” Wright said. “Companies can go to our website (, download this ROI calculator, plug in their expenses and see the year-over-year ROI by using our products.”
By being web-based, Reliant’s products eliminate internal maintenance by a company’s IT department.
“CIOs and IT directors love us,” Wright said. “Most companies’ IT groups are maxed out with projects to support the operational needs that the company has, so the last thing they want is the HR guy coming to the door saying, ‘I need you to build a new behavioral assessment product,’ or ‘We need a web-based performance management tool.’
“Since we are web hosted, there is nothing to install, there is nothing that the client organization has to maintain. The HR people can interact and use our software products and never have to bother the IT people in their organization,” he said
Reliant’s products also save a company the time and cost of attempting to create its own assessment products, Wempen said.
“To go out and reproduce everything that we have done probably would take someone a minimum of five to ten years and millions of dollars,” he said, citing the example of a building supply company that decided to create its own platform.
“They spent upward of $2.5 million just developing an assessment alone,” he said. “It is just an astronomical number to go out and do that.”
The entry point for a company to license Reliant’s entire talent management suite, depending on the size of the company, would be about $30,000 a year, Wright said. An enterprise-wide license for a large corporation might run $300,000-500,000, depending on customization work. ?

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