Swiftness and Thoroughness – Will the Twain Meet?

Background Screening

Being practical while seeking what is desirable – that for me exemplifies the increasing demand on the background screening industry for being swift in doing their checks. The need for speed and the need for accuracy can often be in conflict and there could be a tradeoff involved. So, the question that must be keeping background screeners awake at night – and it should if it isn’t – is: does instant verification necessarily come at the cost of quality?

There is an argument to be made that instant background screening comes at a price and in their quest for speed companies may not be getting the protection that they need from erroneous information being doled out by opportunistic employees. And the backbone of background screening is the integrity of the check. That integrity must never be called to question; it is sacrosanct..

Weighing the pros and cons of the issue and after careful deliberation, my view is that instant verification and quality check may not be antithetical. A wise man once said that there is no decision in life that doesn’t come with some sort of balance or sacrifice. But in my view this industry may be standing at the threshold of achieving a perfect balance between swiftness and thoroughness.

Let me elaborate that point. Instant verification is the principal driver of the speed that the on-demand economy seeks and this instantaneity is currently made possible by identity checks. At least that’s the case here in India.

We announced at the start of this year that AuthBridge has built the capability of instantly verifying the identity of Indian citizens using government-issued documents, such as a passport, PAN or Aadhar card. This first level ID verification caters to the need for speed sought by on-demand services but can companies risk their reputation on a quick but less than thorough background check? Do they need to?

The answer is no, they don’t. Next in line for instant verification could be a litigation check. Companies big and small would like a very clear view that the person they are hiring has no criminal record. Hence next checks to go instant would be criminality, litigation, reputation and credit default.

Instant verification of address, education and employment still in the realms of fantasy? Or is it likely to appear on the horizon any time soon?

Intriguing, exciting question. Right? I am going to defer the answering of that question to another day. Another blog.

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Technology holds all the Aces

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAbAAAAAJGU2Y2MwYzcwLWJkNzMtNDg5Zi05MmIxLWI3MjYzOGFhM2RhNwTechnology today is all pervasive. It is difficult to think of many moments in our day, professional or personal, when technology is not aiding us in accomplishing the things we want.

Take cabs. Technology has made finding a cab to reach your destination amazingly simple. For years I have been travelling to various places in the country, especially Mumbai and Bangalore, and until even two years ago finding a taxi was a struggle. For timely attendance of back-to-back business meetings the only option was to hire private taxis.

Not today. All I have to do is pick up my smartphone and the Uber or Ola apps will get me a cab in a matter of minutes. It’s easy, convenient and cost effective and it’s technology at work.

Or take e-commerce. I confess I used to be a sceptic when it came to making purchases online. No longer. Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal, among others, have changed the way I shop. From the comfort of my living room to be able to order almost anything for me surpasses anything the touch-and-feel buying experience has to offer.

In this wired world, background screening service providers have a vital role and technology is the backbone which is enabling us to play our part with the efficiency and alacrity that the service-driven economy demands. Our clients are increasingly asking us to deliver our reports faster and with the same high degree of integrity and reliability.

Background screeners have to provide efficiency and speed even though we have to rely on external agencies for critical inputs: for checking qualifications we are dependent on educational institutions; on employers for employment verification; and police departments for criminal record verification. Moreover, we have to depend on field executives, our own or outsourced, for actual address verification.

How do we accomplish a high degree of reliability with the need for speed? Technology is the only answer. Creative use of technology will help us in our endeavour.

Many background screening service providers have embraced technology solutions to cut down on internal processing times. However, we now have to think beyond that.

We at AuthBridge have published a case study ‘Innovating HR Operations in India’ published by Cornell University on how using technology we managed to convert an otherwise batch process of background verification to an assembly line operation. While it was a remarkable development, perhaps even ahead of its time, there is now a world of difference in the technologies available that allow us to accomplish more and faster.

The need of the hour is for background screening companies to find cutting-edge technology driven solutions to all those aspects of the business that show processes down. While I am aware of some work being done in this space by some existing players, AuthBridge included, more ‘disruptive’ work needs to happen to significantly reduce turnaround times and streamline workflow and, of course, all of it requires customer-end validation.

Technology is the critical enabler in addressing the dynamically changing requirements of new-age consumers, me included, who are picking up their smartphones and tablets and are expecting deliverance.