What to Know Before Purchasing a New ATS

Learn what you need to know before you purchase an applicant tracking system and what you should expect of a successful implementation.

For any company, purchasing an applicant tracking system is no small affair. Rather than simply flipping an “on” switch, companies must go through a weeks-long implementation process to learn the software, ensure it is working properly, and that it meets expectations. We spoke with Brett Kashanitz, Vice President of Operations at CareerBuilder and an expert in the recruitment technology space, to clear up some burning questions about the implementation process, shed light on the challenges clients run into and discuss CareerBuilder’s own unique approach to implementation.

The implementation process is a major pain point for a lot of businesses. Why do you think that is? 

I think the main part is that clients don’t know what to expect. They don't always realize how many factors are involved in implementation. Implementation is more than just the technology; it's about improving the way a company works. It's about getting the right training and education around it, having the right change management, and conducting ongoing measurement. 

What are some of the biggest obstacles to a successful ATS implementation?

Two of the biggest obstacles clients run into are lack of agreement around processes internally and a lack of understanding why purchases are made. Many times, purchasing decisions are made at a senior or C-suite level, but implemented by the people who will be using the systems. This can result in an unclear understanding of the business reasons for why things are purchased and the intended outcome. So ensuring internal resources are aligned and providing tools to help clients to make sure goals are aligned is definitely key to successful implementation.

What kinds of questions should a customer ask before signing with a software vendor?

The number one a client needs to ask an ATS vendor is: "What is included, and what is an additional charge?" A lot of software companies don’t do their own implementations – they make the purchaser or the client go out and find a third-party vendor to do it. If clients don’t ask enough questions about what is included in that overall price, they can easily make a purchasing decision they will come to regret later. 

What differentiates CareerBuilder’s implementation process from other vendors?

One of our biggest differentiators is the amount of training, development and resources we put toward implementation. We create a roadmap that works best for each client, then we help train them and walk them through the testing, the tools and the resources we provide. A lot of our customers have never implemented software before because they needed someone to coach them and help them, and many vendors don’t offer that assistance. We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on the consultative approach we take.

Post-implementation, what kind of support should a client expect from their vendor? 

Having regular touch points and check-ins is critical. Any time you change your ATS, you are basically asking a whole team to stop what they are doing and learn a whole new process. There is always going to be a challenge when upskilling and training and redeveloping the team, so those first couple of months following implementation are the critical adoption points. During that time, the team is not just discovering the system; they are learning how to do things best in their system.

What should software buyers take into consideration today that they typically don't?  

One of the important things to understand about making a purchasing decision is taking into consideration the longevity of the partnership that you can have with the organization you’re purchasing from. For instance, what is the history of that organization? What is their focus from a partnership standpoint? As a client, you want to look for a partner who can service you in many different areas – from the accessibility of the different products, to the reliability of the products once you purchase them, to the knowledge that this partner is going to be there for you as you continue to grow and develop.