applicant tracking systems

In the Market for an ATS? Everything You Need to Know to Make the Best Choice

In the Market for an ATS? Everything You Need to Know to Make the Best Choice

Looking to replace a dated legacy or homegrown Applicant Tracking System (ATS)? Implementing new HR technology at the enterprise level is always a significant undertaking, so it’s likely that you’re feeling overwhelmed. Don’t be. You can make it easier for you—and your organization—by breaking the process down into three main phases.

Build Your Business Case

Before we look at the “how to” of ATS evaluation, let’s talk about the “why.” Often, the thought of replacing an existing system seems so daunting that companies avoid making a change, even though implementing a new, more modern ATS is an important and strategic move for the business. You can build your case for change by:

  • Identifying the challenges associated with your current ATS and detailing how those challenges are negatively affecting ROI across talent acquisition, candidate experience and employee engagement (if recruiters, hiring managers and current employees are frustrated by it then the system isn’t just harming productivity but engagement, too).
  • Document all of the ways the new system will not only solve for the challenges you’ve identified but deliver additional value and benefits that your organization isn’t getting, and can’t get, from the current system.

Put numbers to as much as you possibly can. For example, if one of the challenges is that the ATS is slow and cumbersome, demonstrate exactly how much extra time it’s taking recruiters to perform specific tasks and what that translates into in terms of staff salaries, as well as what it’s costing in lost productivity and hires.

Break It Down Into Three Manageable Phases

So, now that you’re ready to move forward with the ATS evaluation and selection process, what should you do next? Approaching it in phases will make it far more manageable and less overwhelming, particularly if you’ve never been through the selection process before. Specifically, break it down into these three phases:

  • Define
  • Determine
  • Demo

Phase 1: Define your talent management workflow. This includes everything from how your talent acquisition team is structured and your candidate sourcing strategies to how you communicate both internally and externally regarding the search. Map out your process for moving applicants through the hiring process and, most importantly, what you’d like to enhance. Assess your recruiting volume by gathering data on annual number of openings, applicants, offers, hires, etc. Think about compliance needs, data security requirements and integration with other systems or processes, such as an employee referral program. Outline the reporting features and functionality that are a must, as well as a wishlist of what you’d like to track in the future. Do you recruit globally? Then make sure international language support is covered. Lastly, firm up your budget for both ATS implementation and maintenance.

Phase 2: Determine what the market has to offer. Here’s where research kicks into high gear. You can certainly start by googling relevant search terms. But you should also review online sources of information about ATS platforms compiled by relevant industry publications and gather recommendations from colleagues to see which systems they use, as well as their ATS challenges and successes. Once you have your target list, visit their websites to look up main features and functionality. Assess which systems appear to be the best match based on your needs as defined during Phase 1. After completing your research, whittle down your target list to between three and five finalists.

Phase 3: Demo those that made the cut. Now you’re ready to reach out to your vendor finalists for live demos. Among the features you should ask to take a close look at are the dashboard, user permissions, sourcing capabilities, job board management and reporting features. Review the systems from the job seeker’s perspective, too. It’s critical that candidates are able to apply quickly and easily, which means a mobile-driven candidate experience from start to finish is a must. You’ll also want to ask about implementation timelines, as well as the ability to integrate the ATS with other systems and hiring tools that you use or may want to use in the future. Once demos are completed, you can decide with confidence which ATS is right for you.

While the ATS selection process requires a significant investment of both money and time, it will be well worth it as the right ATS paired with exceptional talent management practices is the key to exceptional recruiting outcomes.

Change management practices can play a major role in the effective implementation of enterprise ATS software. Learn how—download our E-Book today.

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