Did you miss Part I of our change management series? Take a few minutes to read why change management practices are essential when transitioning to a new Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and what you can do to establish a strong foundation for your organization’s implementation. And, be sure to download your free copy of our GR8 Guide: Evaluating a Talent Acquisition Platform, which includes a three-phased approach to running an effective enterprise recruiting software review and selection process.
Now that you’ve effectively guided your organization through the “before” phase of ATS implementation, it’s time to address what needs to happen both “during” and “after” implementation in order to get the greatest returns from your new system.
During: Track and Troubleshoot
Let’s remember where we begin an implementation from: Your processes, goals and approach to staffing are pre-defined, and the implementation should be folding those requirements into the application through configuration. With that as the backdrop, a significant amount of your time during ATS software implementation will be devoted to tracking how the application supports those processes and what they “look and feel like” in the system, as well as determining the best step forward when there are hurdles identified in the deployment. You’ll also begin to communicate the coming change to external audiences. Specific tips for this phase include:
1. Document each issue and the associated resolution. This sounds simple on the surface, but the time, attention and organization you devote to documentation is critical to a strong rollout. Prompt your testing team regularly to confirm what’s working as anticipated and to report back on what’s not. Then, work closely with your vendor to resolve each issue, recognizing that you may need to make a process change on your end in order to resolve a few of the issues. Remain detailed and organized with your documentation of issues and the associated resolutions throughout the entire process. You should have a system in place for logging all testing results—one that doesn’t involve disparate email chains in which issues can get overlooked.
2. Send regular progress reports and updates. Communicate regularly with all implementation team members, as well as with the organization, referring to your documentation to guide your status updates. Be transparent, too. It’s unrealistic to expect that there won’t be a few surprises with an implementation of this scale, so acknowledge when you’ve experienced a delay and how it’s being managed to ensure the overall project timeline is not significantly impacted. If a larger issue comes up, make those who need to be informed aware of it immediately and provide an explanation of how the team is working toward a solution.
3. Plan out the applicant experience in detail. Don’t wait until the new ATS goes live to think about the experience current and new applicants will have with the system. Use the “during” phase to map out how existing applicants will interact with the new platform. Will they be migrated over or sent a campaign email inviting them to create a new profile? Will they need to create a new username and password, or can they use their existing credentials? These answers are driven by variables ranging from the quality of the existing data to the ease of extracting data for migration and consideration for how far back candidate data should be ported.
After: Support Ongoing Success
You made it through the “during” phase—high fives all around. You’re not quite at the finish line, though, as there’s still work ahead to see your team and organization successfully through the “after” phase. Here, your change management activities will include the following:
1. Provide the right training and support. Changes aren’t limited to just the software. With an ATS implementation, it’s likely that you are introducing changes to your hiring process alongside the new software. Don’t expect that people will automatically grasp process changes simply by being trained on the software. Provide training specific to hiring process changes, too, including the rationale for these changes. Ideally, the new processes are reviewed before each product training session.
2. Establish feedback channels. Now that the system is live, determine how you will gather feedback on issues that arise as the system is used widely and overall satisfaction with the system. Satisfaction surveys for hiring managers and candidates are often a good means for assessing overall satisfaction. Just remember that all feedback should be used as measures against the success criteria established in your “before” phase (see Part I for details).
3. Hold a project team debrief and next steps session. Your implementation efforts will benefit from a debrief session that leads the team through an evaluation of what worked and what could have been better. Summarize your main takeaways, including any implications for subsequent training sessions or communications. Also, define what you want success to look like over the next three, six and 12 months, and initiate a plan that will ensure the team realizes those goals.
4. Reinforce awareness and celebrate success. There should be an announcement from the CHRO, or even the CEO, that recognizes the team’s success while reiterating why a change was needed and the benefits that the entire organization will realize. Continue to emphasize your company’s expectations for the system with all users. For example, interview feedback is to be provided within 24 hours, new leads should receive communication every 10 days, hiring managers are to provide feedback on considered candidates within 24 hours, etc. Then, ensure these expectations are reiterated and share dashboards that track these key metrics.
Change, particularly at the organizational level, is never easy. However, integrating change management practices into all three phases of your ATS implementation allows you to reduce the uncertainty and stress associated with this scale of change, ensuring a smoother process and better outcomes for all.
Take it a step further and download our free E-Book to ensure you leverage the best change management strategies for your ATS implementation.