What does the Keep It Simple Stupid Principle (KISS Principle) mean?

“The “keep it simple stupid” (KISS) principle is a design rule that states that systems perform best when they have simple designs rather than complex ones. KISS is not meant to imply stupidity. On the contrary, it is usually associated with intelligent systems that may be misconstrued as stupid because of their simplistic design. The KISS Principle hinders and/or prevents creeping featurism, system failover and other IT issues” – Technopedia


“KISS is an acronym for “Keep it simple, stupid” as a design principle noted by the U.S. Navy in 1960. The KISS principle states that most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. The phrase has been associated with aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson (1910–1990). The term “KISS principle” was in popular use by 1970. Variations on the phrase include “Keep it Simple, Silly”, “keep it short and simple”, “keep it simple and straightforward” and “keep it small and simple” – Wikipedia (always trustworthy, eh?)

What I’m about to say might seem unnecessary or anti-climactic after these references but I will simply (pun intended) try to connect the dots. Today’s VMS platforms are extraordinarily robust. In and of itself, that’s not a bad thing. But, ultimately, the end users of the tool must be considered.

Most MSPs are fairly knowledgeable about the technology they implement, but I’m often surprised at their inability to troubleshoot basic configuration challenges or help end users with even the easiest tasks. Some staffing companies like The Ōnin Group have centralized teams (we call ours the Ōcenter) who are experts at managing these systems and have designed VMS workflows in order to keep branch networks from being confused and overwhelmed by the technology. After all, the branch’s primary function should be finding quality candidates and providing excellent customer service locally.

But what about the manufacturing line supervisor or the shipping and receiving lead? Is the VMS simple enough for them? Is it a help or a hindrance to their daily responsibilities? They have plenty on their plates without having to become DBAs or Java Developers in their spare time. It’s not even uncommon to see Human Resources professionals paralyzed by all the functionality and incessant clicking. Surely, this is a clarion call for simplicity.

Yes, there are tools that exist that have plenty of horsepower but simple to use. Nimble and practical, these platforms have chosen to be user friendly rather than tout their ability to perform functions that no one really uses and the data to launch NASA rockets. They are out there, and unless you are running a complex global staffing program with many other moving parts (SOW, ICS, Services Procurement, etc.) it behooves you to find them.

Want to learn more? Please contact Linden Wolfe, PHR, CCWP at lwolfe@excelsiorstaffing.com