Recruiting Software Implementation: Best Practices Begin with a Hiring Process Audit

One of the most rewarding aspects of the work I do guiding enterprise organizations through their implementation of new recruiting software is seeing firsthand the impact modern technology has on everything from better sourcing strategies and shorter time to fill averages to much happier hiring managers and candidates.

Unfortunately, there’s still a big discrepancy within our industry among talent acquisition teams when it comes to hiring success, which can be traced, in part, to the proper use of recruiting software capabilities. In fact, research conducted by finds that among high-performing talent acquisition teams, 64% report using all or most of their ATS capabilities whereas only 37% of lower-performing talent acquisition teams say they make use of all or most capabilities.

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Better recruiting technology utilization always begins with a hiring process audit.

Based on my experience, the path to better utilization begins when organizations take a step back and conduct an in-depth audit of their current hiring process well before they begin implementing their new recruiting technology. For those who are already in the market for new recruiting technology or working to build their case, here’s how to approach your audit so that it positions your talent acquisition team for long-term success.

• Map out each step of your current hiring process. Make sure that you identify where the process might differ, such as by position or location. Do the mapping visually, too, as this representation will ensure the process is easier for everyone involved to understand. A visual map is generally more effective in uncovering where steps are disjointed or working against critical goals such as delivering a better candidate experience and moving applicants through the pipeline more quickly.

Once you’ve determined where changes need to be made, create your “after” visual map to guide your team—and your organization—through all process changes. Keep in mind that an applicant tracking system will often have bells and whistles that may be essential features for some but are actually “nice to haves” for your organization. Remaining focused on the main goals your talent acquisition team wants to achieve will drive implementation success. Plus, a phased approach to the rollout of features to stakeholders will help the organization realize greater overall adoption.

• Establish essential stakeholders given your revised process. The reason this is important to implementation is because it helps define how these stakeholders will be involved from a technology standpoint. Your vendor implementation team will be able to work with you to assess the best means for including stakeholders in the system. For example, will certain stakeholders need broader access rights to the system or merely the ability to complete specific actions and activities? Prioritizing stakeholder needs before implementation starts will go a long way in supporting a smooth rollout.

• Prepare highly detailed workflow documentation. This should flow easily from your hiring process mapping exercise, and its value to the implementation process cannot be overstated. When you come to the table with your workflows clearly defined and documented, your implementation partner will be far better positioned to see where customization may be required or where the organization may need to be flexible with its process.

The latter is also why it’s vital that you update workflow documentation throughout the process, as opposed to viewing it as fixed and final. The reality is that it’s inevitable, even with the most flexible partners, that changes will occur as you work through implementation with your vendor to solve issues that arise along the way, whether that means customizing the technology or adapting a hiring process step in order to achieve better outcomes overall. You’ll also find detailed workflow documentation useful during the rollout of the technology to key stakeholders.

• Ask a lot of questions and be open to suggestions. A good vendor partner wants its customers to succeed and will be open to questions, especially as these questions often lead to a clearer understanding on the vendor’s side and, as such, a solution that might not have been identified otherwise. At the same time, be open to recommendations from the vendor’s implementation team. Having worked with a broad range of organizations to solve numerous hiring process challenges, the vendor’s implementation team can be a tremendous resource for best practices.

Do I need a hiring process consultant?

The answer depends on several factors. If your organization is a government contractor, which means extensive process and reporting requirements, you may find a consultant with this experience adds significant value to your organization’s implementation efforts. Or, perhaps your company is growing rapidly and would benefit from a consultant well-versed in designing hiring processes that can evolve quickly alongside the organization. On the other hand, if you’re lucky enough to have a recruiting operations specialist on your team then a hiring process consultant might not offer additional value to your implementation initiative.

Whether or not you choose to involve a third-party consult, taking the time to fully assess the strengths and weaknesses of your current hiring process and making necessary process improvements before you implement new technology is essential to ensuring that your organization realizes its talent acquisition goals.