Case Study: The Francis Crick Institute – Academic Recruitment System

Background

The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

An independent organisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King's College London.

The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into a brand new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.

Challenge

The Crick has thousands of applicants each year for its graduate (PhD, Summer and Sandwich programmes) and Group Leaders.  Reviewing, validating and managing the logistics of these programmes from initial applications through to the final interview stages is a demanding and complex job for the Academic Recruitment team at The Crick.  In order to make the process as efficient and scalable as possible, a new bespoke solution was sought.

Solution

A complete Academic Recruitment System was quickly implemented using DataTherapy’s Platopus web application platform, consisting of both public-facing applicants and referee portals, alongside a private back-office portal for the Academic Recruitment team and associated Group Leader positions.

"The student recruitment process at the Crick is complex. We recruit simultaneously to 4 student programmes every year, each with its own structure of application form and interview process. We receive 1300 applications for our PhD programme alone and would not be able to manage this volume of applications with a manual system.

DataTherapy took the time to understand clearly our needs and to build a system that provided us with the functionality to receive applications and references for multiple programmes, to manage communication with the candidates and to coordinate the interviews themselves. The team was quick to respond to feedback and flexible in thinking about ways to make the system support our recruitment needs.

The Group Leader recruitment database functionality was exceptional and we could not have managed the receipt of 380 applications without it.

No candidate experienced any problem with the submission of an application. We also had 25 Group leaders looking at the applications as part of the short listing process- which went like clockwork- they accessed applications from wherever they were in the world. We could not have managed to get the shortlist down to 18 from 380 in a period of one month, without the database. Collection and analysis of data was very easy.

Ben and the team are excellent, approachable and understand scientists, which was very useful when dealing with the senior Science management team when they reviewed and approved the database. The team provided excellent and reactive support to the Crick administrators at all levels."

Benefits

  • Scalable solution built to allow for growth - supports thousands of applicants and referees.  New application programmes based on system templates can be added at any time without additional programming.  System can be quickly extended to completely new workflows quickly if required.
  • Easy to help applicants with their application at any stage of the process - the Crick’s Academic Recruitment team have the ability to ‘assume’ the identity of an applicant at any stage to review how far the applicant has progressed so that they can quickly review and resolve any problems that they have with their application. There is also a built-in messaging system so that queries are directly tied to the relevant graduate application.
  • Tiered security & workflow interface to support multiple users simultaneously– back office users can be granted the ability to contribute to managing a whole programme, or just the specific applicants associated with projects they are involved with.  Multiple back office users can work simultaneously on processing applicants from the same or different programmes.
  • Flexible exports & reporting - via FileMaker interface simple ad-hoc raw data reports are instantly available. 

 Technologies

 FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Server, Platopus