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The Practicality of Purchasing an ATS Part 2

Cost, true value and company culture

(Part two of a three-part series)

In part one of this series, I discussed how to go about conducting a gap analysis to fully understand the current state of your ATS and if shopping around for a new vendor is really what’s needed. Having a good grasp on your current business needs in addition to future needs is one of the first considerations.

Further, I shared some pitfalls to avoid when conducting your business analysis and described some areas where people can misinterpret what resources are needed, and why considering the functionality and options of a new ATS must align with your unique business plans.

How do You Determine True Value?

Current and future value for your business, value for the money paid and value for the end-users should be paramount in the decision-making process.

What to consider as the value will vary from organization to organization. It’s important to ask lots of good questions to understand how the software will mesh with your unique business demands. Ask questions specific to your company’s needs, but general questions about the cost, frequency of software updates, extent of resources needed by your organization to maintain a fully functioning application, how data storage is handled and protected, along with length and terms of the contract should, also, be asked. Additionally, you should know what training is included for the initial rollout, as well as for future updates, product refreshers, new features and training for new users, as well as software changes that address future business objectives. It’s, also, important to understand any configuration or customization you may require, to meet your initial and ongoing business processes, and their associated costs.

No software is of value if the end-users cannot use it in meaningful and productive ways. Technology should enhance the user experience not be an encumbrance, so the human engineering must be in-line with how you need the software to perform. Don’t let the vendor define your needs; it’s okay to compare product feature sets to each other, but it’s most important to compare the product functionality to your requirements to ensure you’re getting the best value for the money. If you analyzed your business at the beginning of the process, you know best as to what your business needs are.

People often over-focus on the appearance of the software. Beneficial functionality and speed are not easy to design but are the backbones of what makes for good, reliable systems. What appears flashy and sparkly in a demo doesn’t always translate into a productive real-world experience for the end-user. Flashy should not be the focus, but consider availability, functionality, and responsiveness as being what’s vital. It’s important that the end-users can use the software, sometimes all day long, without fatigue.

If, at all, possible implement the software you’re considering into production. If you have more than one location, install and use it at one of the sites. If not possible, at least take the time to talk to references – both power users and the managers who do the software purchasing for their business. Questions may vary, but ask the managers if they conducted a business needs analysis at the onset of the process. Ask to know if there were any hidden costs. Knowing how satisfied the end-users are with the software is valuable information. Software review sites such as TrustRadius and Capterra are also great sources of getting crowd-sourced opinions about a product, company, and its people.

It’s, also, important to ask for references from customers that are achieving success. These may be power users who will give you a fair representation of how they use the product, and with that may be able to answer questions relative to your organization.

Company Culture Matters

When evaluating vendors, assess how closely they listen, understand and respond to information about your unique business demands. If the vendor always answers, “yes,” to your questions about functionality, you should be suspicious… no off-the-shelf software will do all you want.

If the vendor is listening and advising on what’s in your company’s best interest, they are taking a customer-centric approach and not just working to meet their own sales goals. Further, ask the vendor to whom they report, is the company privately held or owned and financed by outside investors? Who does management serve, customers or shareholders/investors? What drives their innovation? Customer-driven innovation is, generally, the best because it’s like crowdsourcing. Their responses will alert you to their company structure and indicate where customers fall on the list of priorities and importance. Also, find out what the turnover is on their client roster, as well as turnover with the software vendor’s employees. See what employees are writing about them on sites like Glassdoor.

It goes without saying but understanding how the vendor defines on-going service and support is important. This will help you understand both the advantages, as well as the limitations of their solution – and their customer focus speaks volumes about their own company culture and how well they work with clients.

You need to develop a business partnership with your ATS provider, and any vendor for that matter. A compatible relationship must be built on trust, honest communication, and mutual respect.

Understanding the overall performance and service factors of the potential software system, and its compatibility with your company needs and culture are the keys to successful product selection. Ultimately, the functionality of the vendor’s software should be in-line with your expectations of success for the present and future of your business.

This article is part two in a three-part series. In the next article, I’ll address best practices for implementing your ATS and what’s needed for the care and maintenance of the new software.

The Practicality of Purchasing an ATS

How do you know you need a new ATS?

(Part one of a three-part series)

When looking for an applicant tracking system (ATS) your first job is to critically evaluate your motivations as to why you need one, and if you currently have one, why you need to change vendors. Analyzing where and why the current ATS is not performing and why a new ATS is needed should be bona fide business reasons, not driven by subjectivity. Looking objectively and pragmatically at your business and motivation to switch providers or when making an initial purchase are the biggest factors to consider when shopping for a new ATS.

Mind the Gap

Start by conducting a gap analysis of your recruitment business and looking objectively at what you are lacking. Consider your company’s present requirements as well as anticipated future needs. For example, if your business is growing, your software needs to be scalable to suit your anticipated plans, if not, you may face having to re-evaluate ATS systems down the road. Further, prioritizing your needs is critically important to evaluate competing systems, since no off-the-shelf software will likely satisfy all of your requirements.

Before you begin the product evaluation process, look objectively at your talent acquisition processes, your current ATS’s performance for reliability and support along with your future goals. Without this in-depth knowledge, it will be difficult for you to adequately compare ATS products to determine which is best suited for your business goals and talent acquisition practices. I recommend having end-users’ input when determining where your current software is falling short. These individuals can provide the feedback you need to know as part of the due diligence in your analysis.

Also, part of the due diligence in understanding what you need for your business will help you avoid over-purchasing or under-purchasing what is actually needed to sustain your talent acquisition workflow and pressing business needs.

Where it Goes Sideways

Over the past 30 years, I have heard many subjective reasons as to why a company wants to leave their current applicant tracking software provider or make an initial ATS purchase… this case rarely ends well. Reasons that aren’t supported by a solid business case generally means the decision makers bypassed a needs analysis, and what ultimately results are one or more of the following mistakes: Buyers creating a broad list of overly general questions, using a templated RFP, not applicable to the buyer’s organization and sent to a long list of (mostly) unqualified vendors, preemptively choosing a vendor used in the past at a previous employer, or selecting a vendor exclusively on cost versus knowing the true value to the buyer’s organization.

I’ve also experienced interactions with organizations that have assigned the task of evaluating potential ATS providers to a third-party consultant or departments outside of the area where the end-users sit. This can spell disaster for the end-users and job candidates because the decision usually doesn’t serve the end-users and support the business needs of the company. We recommend designating one or more “power users” or internal subject matter experts who can help with the product evaluation process, and later serve as key points of contact to support user adoption and maximize the ongoing cost-effectiveness of the system.

Further, fostering good communications with your current provider and understanding the full complement of what your system has to offer is important for understanding what you really have at your fingertips, and I’ll address more about this is part three.

Keeping in line with good communications, the first place you should take your completed gap analysis is to your existing vendor and discuss the results. Often times your current software provider has the functions you need, but you simply aren’t aware. You should be satisfied that you have reason to explore other options and not just assume the grass is always greener based on the latest marketing hype of a potentially new vendor.

In part two of this series, I’ll discuss how cost versus the true value and why a vendor’s company culture matters in helping you make the right decision for your ATS purchase. In part three of the series, I’ll discuss the implementation and care and feeding of your ATS.

Photo Credit: alberthobbs Flickr via Compfight cc

Talent Acquisition Success in 2016: The Empowered Recruiter [Webinar]

To stay competitive in 2016, your talent acquisition success will depend on a combination of effective recruitment marketing strategies, increased speed, and quality hiring processes.

All of which looks good on paper but can feel overwhelming.

Finding the right candidate is often like searching for a needle in a haystack. Your recruitment marketing strategies deliver new volumes of candidates for open roles, using various channels to attract that sought-after talent. And your optimized career page, social sources and job board listings engage candidates better than ever before.

Now what? Are you essentially creating a bigger “haystack” that those elusive “needles” are buried in? You don’t have time for that.

As recruiters, your fundamental responsibility is to find the best people for any given job as fast as possible—regardless of the complexities you face with sourcing, hiring processes or volume of candidates. You need faster and easier candidate identification. You need tools that make you more productive as a recruiter.

What if you could actually create smaller “haystacks” for each open requisition you have, and be automatically presented a handful of potential “needles”?

You can. With a next generation ATS (Applicant Tracking System) – a platform that brings candidate intelligence, analytics, integration, and automation right to your fingertips, strengthening your ability to derive actionable insights from the database.

Become an empowered recruiter and experience talent acquisition success in 2016! Join PeopleFluent and Meghan M. Biro, on December 10, 2015, at  2PM EST for our webinar: “Talent Acquisition Success in 2016 Part 1: The Empowered Recruiter.”

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

  • The imperatives of robust, dynamic talent pipelines
  • Specific opportunities to simplify complex sourcing requirements
  • How to build and manage recruiting analytics that empower you
  • How mobile capabilities accelerate and amplify some of the most core functions of modern applicant tracking databases

You’ll also learn more about next generation Applicant Tracking Systems, like PeopleFluent Recruiting, which are purpose-built for enterprise recruiting by simplifying complex recruiting processes, accelerating candidate identification and engaging candidates, recruiters and hiring managers.

This valuable information will help you find, attract, hire, and align the best candidates in 2016 and will give you a critical edge over your competition. Click here to register today!

photo credit: Cross Processing Experiments via photopin (license)

 

PeopleFluent is a client of TalentCulture and sponsored this post.