Many organisations complain about their Applicant Tracking System (ATS), even if they have just implemented a new system! Given that selecting an ATS is such an important decision, how can organisations ensure they choose a system that appropriately supports their business, aligns against their budget and resource levels, and successfully integrates with other relevant systems?
While other business areas allocate experts to assist with such important buying decisions, HR/Recruitment are often expected to go through the process alone, or worse are given an ATS because of a wider technology decision.
Following a Resourcing Think Tank, hosted by Willis Towers Watson, on Selecting and Implementing an ATS we are pleased to share 10 top tips for choosing and rolling out the right system. These tips reflect the insights shared by Willis Towers Watson following their recent ATS implementation and the ever-valuable contributions provided by our Think Tank community!
1. Play the long game
Remember that choosing and rolling out a new system is not a quick process (if you want to do it successfully!). Set realistic expectations with your stakeholders and do not rush. The full journey can often take 1-2 years, and that’s okay!
2. Identify and understand the problem(s) you are trying to solve with a new ATS
What strategic issues need addressing? Is your candidate experience letting you down? Are there too many steps in your application process? Do you have poor visibility of recruitment analytics? Are your recruiters not using the current system? Are there functional issues (e.g. language barriers) that need addressing?
You almost need to go back to basics to understand what it actually is you’re trying to solve and use this to inform your business case.
3. Lean on your network and ask for referrals
Speak to other organisations doing a similar implementation to you and compare notes. Always take references and do your research / due diligence up front to avoid unnecessary hold-ups later down the line.
4. Involve your end-users when selecting an ATS
Involving your key stakeholders is essential for holding their engagement and getting them bought into what you’re trying to achieve. Survey your recruiters at the start of the process to help define what they need. What do they like about the current system? What features make their lives easier? What could they live without? What doesn’t add any value?
5. Be clear on your essential vs. nice to have criteria
Once you’ve got a good understanding of the problems you’re trying to fix and the wants of your recruiters, you’ll be in a good position to define your essential vs. your ‘nice to have’ criteria. However, when considering different providers, make sure you stay true to what you need and avoid being side-tracked by shiny features that aren’t likely to help you reach the objectives of selecting a new system!
6. Involve IT and Finance from the get-go
Both IT and Finance need to be involved in the buying process from the beginning to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. You don’t want to waste time progressing with a buying decision to find out that the option isn’t viable from a cost or implementation perspective. Get the right people around the table to make the right decision.
7. Start with the end in mind
How are you going to measure what good looks like? It’s important to understand what reporting you’ll need to evidence the success of your function from the off. What metrics do the business care about? You can then factor this into your roll-out, to ensure that those using the system are inputting the right information, thus providing you with the data you need for reporting purposes.
8. Don’t neglect your training needs
It’s advisable to lean on your inhouse L&D team, should you have one. How can they support you with producing and delivering training materials?
Training options might include:
- Bi-weekly hints and tips emails to end-users
- Group face-to-face updates – take them on the journey from selection decisions to training
- Scheduled Webex sessions
- On-demand learning and quick reference video clips
9. Identify and lean on ATS subject matter experts
Developing subject matter experts who are on the ground with users for the roll-out is key to stablisation, training and embedding the new ATS.
10. Opt for a phased approach when implementing an ATS globally
When rolling out a system that’s going to be used globally, it’s recommended to take a phased approach based on geography / business area. Starting with an engaged group is wise as it will enable you to use their energy and experience to showcase the system’s capability to other pockets of the business. It also gives you an opportunity to iron-out any challenges before you undertake the remaining roll-outs.