When meeting with clients, I frequently hear the same concerns. There is an interest in improving their processes using a new applicant tracking system, but they are concerned how this will affect their organization. Their concerns range from the more routine, such as making sure the new system is implemented smoothly, to greater concerns such as determining roles and skills that personnel will be able to apply to the new technology.
Regardless of the organization, there are simple steps that I recommend, that not only make the transition as smooth as possible, but can also fortify your team by focusing their skills. The first step is to identify and create goals the new applicant tracking system will help you to achieve.
For example, are you most concerned with a large volume of candidates that need to be refined to the most talented, or is your organization trying to standardize hiring procedures to achieve compliance with EEO requirements? Has the addition of a new location or campus spread your organization geographically, requiring a system accessible from multiple points? Have concerns over the environment motivated you to move to an electronic system?
The good news is the better applicant tracking software (ATS) solutions on the market can handle more than one, if not all, of these concerns. The challenge is prioritizing them and having a plan to evaluate whether the goals have been achieved in the process. This is also a great time to start building a timeline for the entire project scope and implementation, yet allow flexibility for changes to the projected timeline based on new decisions your team makes during the process.
It may be helpful to determine these goals through one of several methods. Focus groups are a great way to get input, although in a less structured format. A study could be conducted to measure current processes and identify how much time, money and paper could be saved. Surveys provide a more closed method of obtaining feedback, but are a great way to reach a larger population and easily identify resulting trends.
The second step is to identify any training, development or organizational needs for users of the new system. Many new clients find that tasks that were once performed entirely by HR can now be performed at least partially by hiring managers. For example, once the human resources department has created a catalog of titles and job descriptions, a hiring manager can access the system to requisition a new job. Hiring managers gain autonomy while ensuring standards of roles and responsibilities are still met throughout the organization.
While the new system may enhance autonomy, it is critical that users have the right expectations and receive the proper training for any of these new responsibilities. Depending on previous experience with similar systems, the training can be minimal and more of a familiarization with new functions and the duties delegated to the team member.
During the transition, whether from a different applicant tracking system or from a paper-based process, support and training will be critical for success. The clients who identify staff members to be an in-house expert and first level line of support are rewarded by the best experience. Most often a staff member can act as a trainer or mentor to other users and answer questions in the context of how their organization works. Even the best support in the industry doesn’t have the intimate knowledge of daily routine and culture of your organization – something that can make a big difference in guiding less-experienced users.
When evaluating vendors, it can be tempting to have as many choices as possible. That’s okay in the initial search, but after the initial search process you should be able to identify the vendors with the most potential to successfully complete your project. I recommend no more than 3-5 final demos to avoid being overwhelmed.
There really is no last step to the process. Organizations are dynamic and vibrant, and personnel changes may lead to new skills and responsibilities. Once the initial transition is completed, maintaining an active role and investing some time in the system can pay off big.
With this knowledge, you can now enter the search for an applicant tracking system vendor with confidence that the vendor you choose will fit your organizational needs. Although it can be intimidating at first, determining your goals, following the steps needed to reach them and allowing flexibility when appropriate will make the experience much more enjoyable for you and your organization.
Looking for Applicant Tracking software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Applicant Tracking software solutions.