One of my most popular blogs was one that I wrote last summer trying to outline the difference between the onboarding process and an onboarding system (  I still find myself discussing quite frequently what aspects of an overall onboarding process can be automated by an onboarding system (and what aspects should be automated).  Any reader of my blog and of the articles my team and I have published here at Emerald Software Group know that we categorize onboarding as having two aspects or approaches: transactional and acculturation.

Transactional onboarding is the workflow, the automation of the W4 and I9 forms, the eliminating of paper, the drastic reduction of document latency and logistics costs, the elimination of rekeying, and the reduction of risk and exposure from incomplete or missing forms and data.

Acculturation onboarding is the training and orientation of new empoyees.  It’s the socialization of new employees; it’s getting a new employee more effective, more rapidly.  It’s about improving not only effectiveness but also long term retention.

Transactional onboarding is very objective and transactional onboarding is very subjective.  As I’ve said before, it’s much more easy to quantify how many paper forms and how many hours of data entry have been eliminated than it is to quantify whether employees are becoming more effective more rapidly.  Transactional onboarding = science; acculturation onboarding = art.

The overall onboarding process accomplishes both transactional onboarding and acculturation onboarding in a mix that’s appropriate for the organization.  All organizations need transactional onboarding, but only certain types of organizations can reap huge benefits from acculturation onboarding.  If an onboarding system doesn’t take these variances into consideration, how can it be effective for every organization?  If an onboarding system offers an all-or-nothing proposition, or a “we are best practices in onboarding” attitude, how can it possibly fit for every organization?

In short, an effective onboarding system should be able to adapt to a company’s process, not the other way around.  If the onboarding system is available in only one “flavor”, then how can it effectively adapt to an organization’s unique culture and process?

If you agree, and you’re looking for an onboarding system, check ours out at, and please let us know if we can show you how we can adapt to your onboarding process, not adapt your process to our product.