You want your ATS to be a self-starter. You want it to understand your needs and solve your problems. You want it to be easy to work with. That’s why choosing the right ATS is a lot like finding the perfect person to fill a much-needed role in your company. To find the right ATS, follow these five steps:
1. Establish a Timeline
Start with the end in mind. In this case, the end goal is your go-live date. When do you want to have a new system fully activated? Take that date and work backward. A good rule of thumb is that you’ll want to have a full month to activate your new system. Plan to finish your selection process about four weeks before your go-live date. Unless selecting a new applicant tracking software is your only project, you’ll want to give yourself a month to complete research, discovery calls and product demos. From research to the go live date, give yourself eight weeks.
2. Outline a Selection Process
If you’re like most HR and recruiting professionals, you want to be thorough in your ATS search, but there are only so many hours in a day. Having a structured outline of your selection process is key to choosing the right ATS efficiently. It will help you vet the top offerings and track progress against your timeline to go live. Here’s your selection process in three phases:
Independent Research: One of the best places to start is with your peers. Ask around. They will have opinions that will lead you to platforms to investigate. Be sure that you understand their use cases and ask for their rationale. You’ll also want to search the web and use software review sites such as Capterra. Use search terms like, “applicant tracking system”, “applicant tracking software”, and “ATS”.
Discovery Calls: Demos take an hour or more, so before you take the plunge, set up a discovery call with a sales person. Ask about basic functionality, detailed pricing information and reassurance that the vendor is successful with similar size employers from your industry. Also, don’t agree to a product demonstration or another meeting without understanding how the pricing works and the length of the commitment they require.
Product Demos: Like what you hear on the discovery call? Schedule a demo. Let the salesperson set the agenda. A good seller will be prepared to tailor the demo based on your needs. While going through these stages of the selection process, you may find a system that appears to fulfill your needs as far as functionality is concerned. You must also account for contract terms, system pricing models, the implementation process and customer support offerings.
3. Know the Activation Plan - Steps & Timeline
The most common reason applicant tracking systems fail isn’t adequate features and functionality. Systems fail because they weren’t implemented properly. Never purchase a product that requires you and your team to “self-activate.” Your chosen vendor must dedicate a resource to guarantee a successful launch. Additionally, you must consider the timeline and workload included in the activation. If a new system takes several months to set up and requires a large investment of your time and resources, then it will become a huge drag on other important projects. Fatigue will set in and by the time you’re ready to go live, you’ll have invested more time and resources than you anticipated causing other projects (like recruiting new employees) to fall far behind.
4. You’re Looking for a Partner, Not Just Another Vendor
You’re not going to date your ATS vendor, you’re going to marry them. Ongoing support and education are must-haves, not nice-to-haves. Unfortunately, it’s hard to evaluate either of these aspects until you are already locked into a contract. To work around this, be sure to key in on support questions during the discovery call and product demo. Ask vendors what is included in their support offering. What support resources will you have access to as a customer? What metrics does the vendor have on their:
- Response times
- Resolution times
- Customer satisfaction rates
- Customer retention rates
A HRMS software partner that can provide you with well thought out, transparent answers to these questions (or can quickly put you in touch with someone on their team that can), clearly places an emphasis on the quality of their customer support and will offer a more comprehensive support program.
5. Personalized Service
When it comes to customer support, you want a partner that offers an honest and meaningful experience. No one wants to be guided through a new system on generic tutorial videos or reams of support documentation. Your hiring processes is unique to your company. When questions arise, you want immediate responses tailored for your environment. For this reason, you need a dedicated, living and breathing individual who deeply understands your environment and can provide you with personalized solutions via phone, email and an online help portal.
If you’re in search of more inspiration or best practices to take your recruiting process to the next level, check out a complete list of resources in the HR Center of Excellence Recruiting Hub.