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DuPont Plays The Match Game

Notes-based application tracks rotating assignments for 275 engineers.

For years, DuPont Engineering relied on custom mainframe software to match engineers with jobs. But the system was unwieldy. So the business unit of DuPont & Co. turned to commercial software that automates the matchmaking and more quickly delivers reports.

DuPont's IT team first realized two years ago that it needed to replace the 15-year-old database application used to track graduates in its Field Engineering Program. Tracking some 275 engineers and rotating their job assignments every two years had become quite a task for the older software. "You're dealing with a lot of hidden characters in the software code, which makes editing those documents pretty ugly," says Elizabeth Burch, IT integrator at DuPont.

Initially, DuPont tried rebuilding the tracking system using relational database-management software, but writing a custom interface for the application proved too costly. So DuPont asked Automation Centre, a project-management software developer, to customize a Lotus Notes-based personnel-tracking program the vendor offered. The app appealed to DuPont because it came with an interface users were familiar with and let them attach resumés to files, something they couldn't do with the relational database. DuPont saved at least $10,000 by using the commercial software, Burch says.

Automation Centre, which previously customized a billing application for DuPont, combined features from two of its products, Applicant Tracker and Personnel Tracker, to develop the application for the Field Engineering Program. Automation Centre built an algorithm into the software that matches engineers with available jobs and churns out color-coded employee reports that make it easier to share data at meetings. It used to take three days to generate and distribute reports from the older system; now, Burch says, "A supervisor can enter information into the system the night before a meeting and have reports available the next day."

The reports include greater input from the engineers because their preferred job descriptions are automatically matched to job openings listed in the system, says Peggy Gibson, business manager of the program.

In the future, DuPont is considering a feature that would let plant-site managers submit requests for field engineers via the Web. Such requests now are handled via phone, E-mail, or in person.

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