ATS. The. The Staffing Agency s Guide to Buying an Applicant Tracking System

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1 ATS The Advantage: The Staffing Agency s Guide to Buying an Applicant Tracking System

2 87 % of North American recruiting professionals agree that using ATS/CRM technology is important to the success of their business North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report

3 Introduction 4 Part 1: What Is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)? 5 Part 2: Why Invest in an ATS? 6 Part 3: Have You Identified Your Requirements? 8 Part 4: Is SaaS Architecture Right for You? 9 Part 5: Is the Solution Reliable and Secure? 10 Part 6: Other Things to Consider: Workflow Management 11 Mobile Access 12 Business Intelligence 15 Social Recruiting 17 Vendor Experience 18 Part 7: Determining Your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) 20 Part 8: Do Your Homework 22 Part 9: Vendor Questionnaire 24 Table of Contents 3

4 Introduction Recruiting firms today face a variety of unique challenges such as a tight economy and a volatile job market. These challenges have placed a great deal of stress on the operational effectiveness of even the most competent and well-established recruiting firms. Additionally, the increased competition and client service demands have made efficiency and workflow an even more critical business issue. By fully automating the workflow with an applicant tracking system (ATS), recruiting firms are better equipped to meet a variety of business goals. With an ATS in place, recruiters can make strategic decisions, exceed internal quotas, meet client placement targets, and increase top-line growth. Evaluating different ATS solutions can be challenging. This buyer s guide will help you: As you read this guide, think about your business and how ATS technology can enhance your team s day-to-day operations. Identify key requirements to consider when evaluating an ATS Explore the benefits of purchasing an ATS and CRM as one complete solution Evaluate the differences between a software-as-a-service (SaaS) and an on-premise solution Review other things to consider when purchasing an ATS 4

5 What is an Applicant Tracking System? (ATS) Simply put, an applicant tracking system (ATS) is a software solution that automates an organization s recruiting and staffing operations, providing a central repository for candidate data including résumés and applications. Recruiting firms can better manage the recruiting process using an ATS, from application to hire, while delivering greater overall efficiency. The key technology developments now driving the future of ATS solutions include: Mobile and Cloud Computing Technology Platforms Multimedia and Unified Communications Platforms/Applications Social Networking Platforms/Applications Data World Platforms/Applications 1 Recruiting firms can also purchase a Recruitment CRM with the ATS to gain full visibility into client activity. Recruitment CRM capabilities make it easier for sales personnel to manage all aspects of the client relationship, helping them generate and close job orders more efficiently. Capabilities will vary with each ATS and CRM, but the advantage of purchasing a single system for both functions is that you don t have to implement multiple solutions to handle candidate leads (B2C) and client-side relationships (B2B). 1 Talent Acquisition Technology (TAT) What Is It and Where It s Going, Staffing Industry Analysts, March

6 Why invest in an ATS? At a time when most businesses are trying to do more with less, investing in an ATS is an ideal way to recruit high-quality candidates both quickly and cost-effectively. In fact, implementing an intelligent workflow (using an ATS) can eliminate repetitive steps and reduce unproductive time on average by 75% per interruption. 2 With less wasted time, recruiters are free to focus on finding candidates and filling placements faster. Utilizing an ATS, staffing firms have seen an average decrease of 15% in time required to fill a placement and an increase in placements of up to 10% per month. 3 Today, companies of all sizes are investing in applicant tracking systems to not only better manage their candidate database, but their end-to-end recruiter workflows as well. Many ATS vendors offer solutions with robust reporting functionality that can reduce the time needed to generate reports by an average of 70%. 4 While implementing an intelligent workflow will help increase recruiter productivity and improve hiring efficiency, these are only a few of the many key value drivers behind investing in an ATS. As you evaluate different ATS solutions, consider how these benefits will lead to significant cost savings and increased business profitability. 2 Driving ROI: The Case for an Automated, Cloud-based Recruiting Solution by Bullhorn, ibid. 4 ibid. 6

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8 Have you identified your requirements? Identifying your requirements is an important first step in the ATS evaluation process. You will need this information as you look into different vendor products and service offerings. Start by reviewing your recruiting process and documenting all steps, interactions, and points of frustration. Once you have clearly defined your current process, map out the goals and needs of your new system while thinking about how this new solution can help you improve your business processes. Consider things that your current system may lack that you d like to see in the new solution. How do you want to access this system? Are you looking for a system that is installed on a computer or a system that is available online? Who do you want to access this system (executives, managers, recruiters)? Finally, determine your budget early in your evaluation process. Make sure you plan not only for the cost of the ATS, but also for any setup fees, usage fees, hardware costs, and support costs that may be applied during implementation. Also make sure you plan for any backup and disaster recovery needs as well. Ask vendors for detailed quotes on the products and services offered so you truly understand the total cost of ownership. 8

9 Is SaaS architecture right for you? True Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions are delivered on a multi-tenant (or one-to-many) basis via the Web, meaning all products are running on the same code base and all customers are running on the same version. This means that the vendor is focusing its resources on only one solution, which can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. Nothing is required by the customer to host or manage the systems and hardware, therefore minimizing the costs associated with maintaining it. With a SaaS delivery model, the software is serviced, upgraded, and maintained (by the vendor) continuously versus forcing customers to wait for an upgraded version to be released with improved features. There are two alternatives to SaaS, including hosted offerings and on-premise solutions. Hosted solutions or outsourced offerings are not true SaaS systems even though some vendors may market them as such. With a hosted solution, the vendor is hosting the software for you and implementing any software upgrades one customer at a time, which ultimately leads to higher costs for this effort. On-premise solutions are server-based systems that require clients to download, install, and run specialized software in order to access the solutions. The on-premise model requires the physical server to be hosted on-site at the company s own datacenter. This significantly increases costs, security risks, and maintenance fees. The most important thing to consider while evaluating the different types of technology is the total cost of ownership involved for setting up and operating each solution. 9

10 Is the solution reliable and secure? become a top-level issue for recruitment firms because clients need to know that their business information is kept safe, secure, and confidential. For example, the SSAE 16 SOC1 Type II report ensures that controls are in place and working effectively at the service organization. In addition to being reliable and easy to use, an ATS must be secure especially in light of today s focus on confidentiality and the increasing threat of cyber-attacks. Security has Tapping into a SaaS-delivered solution provides a secure and confidential environment for recruiting firms to work both in the office and offsite with clients. Listen carefully to what vendors are saying because it s easy to be misled. Will your data be safe? Ask your vendor if they are compliant with government standards for the protection of personal information. One way to see if the vendor is committed to keeping data secure is to ask them if they are SSAE 16 SOC1 Type II compliant. If your recruiting firm values the safety of its data and its business reputation, then security should be a key focus of yours in the buying process. 10

11 Other things to consider Workflow Management An ATS provides an all-in-one dashboard for managing the entire recruiting process from job submission to candidate placement. The right ATS should give you an efficiency advantage that enhances your existing workflow (instead of reinventing it), leading to higher and faster levels of user adoption. A basic workflow within these systems is typically comprised of four major steps and several submission statuses directly related to those steps. Candidates will move through this workflow as they are submitted, interviewed, and ultimately hired. Here is an example of an out-of-the-box workflow: You can typically decide to use an out-of-the-box workflow or choose to configure it to match your recruiting firm s own workflow. For example, you can add prescreen as a step, which represents the in-house interview prior to the client submission. Besides choosing a solution that helps you move fast, you want an ATS that is designed to grow and change with you so you can remain agile as a business. Speed and agility are two very important factors to consider as you evaluate different ATS solutions and the workflows that they implement. Recruiter Job Owner Job Owner Client Candidate Client Candidate Internal Submission Submitted to Client Interview Placement 11

12 Other things to consider Mobile Access Mobile access to your ATS allows your recruiters and salespeople to be armed with up-to-the-second information about clients and candidates, giving them better insight for offsite meetings. Looking at recruitment technologies in the next 1-2 years, 65% of staffing firms reported viewing mobile as an increasingly important talent acquisition technology % of staffing professionals recently said they consider mobile access to their ATS important, according to Bullhorn s 2013 North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report. 6 5 Talent Acquisition Technology (TAT) What Is It and Where It s Going, Staffing Industry Analysts, March Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends Report, Bullhorn, Inc.,

13 Other things to consider Mobile access is critical to sales and account management functions more so than to recruiters because it gives the former the ability to provide better client service and it gets them started on job orders more quickly. When evaluating ATS solutions with mobile access, make sure to ask the vendor about the software s ability to: Track mobile automatically so complete records are kept without users having to take extra steps Search and review candidate databases and candidate lists in real-time during client meetings Enter a new job order via mobile during/after a client meeting so the recruiting team back at the office can get a jump on the competition to fill it Review key reports about job orders, etc. while on the road to stay on top of critical office activity 13

14 Use business intelligence software to ensure your team is using the ATS most effectively. 14

15 Other things to consider Business Intelligence One of today s biggest opportunities for recruiting and staffing firms to gain a competitive advantage is by leveraging data and analytics to refine business processes. A business intelligence tool will provide you with the data-driven insight needed to improve efficiencies and help fuel important business decisions. Your team s activities generate a great deal of data each day, but there is not much power in the data alone without the analysis to provide insight into how your company is truly performing. Use business intelligence software to ensure your team is using the ATS most effectively. If employees are entering in bad data, then the business intelligence won t be based on good information and the insight won t be accurate. When evaluating different ATS solutions, make sure you fully understand your requirements and what reporting capabilities you need as a business. Oftentimes, you can purchase additional business intelligence tools if the reporting offering that comes with your ATS does not meet your needs. With the technology available today, firms have every opportunity to leverage their data to gain a competitive edge. Are you looking for an ATS that will provide you with strategic business intelligence? If so, make sure to ask the vendor about its reporting capabilities. 15

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17 Other things to consider Social Recruiting Social media has become an indispensable tool for recruiting firms leveraging it to post jobs, source candidates, share content, engage followers, and nurture relationships. One thing you might want to consider is purchasing a social recruiting tool with your ATS that will allow your team of recruiters to leverage the networks that they ve worked so hard to build. Working with an ATS that is tightly integrated with a social recruiting tool will enable your company to automate many repetitive social recruiting tasks, accelerating the throughput of information to strategic social communities. A social recruiting solution will allow you to pull new job orders directly from the ATS and instantly distribute them across your team s social networks. Some tools, like Bullhorn Reach, can even help you identify passive candidates who are getting ready to make a move. A simple integration like this could save your recruiters up to 50+ interruptions per day. Think about what they could do with this time. A social recruiting tool gives your recruiters the ability to reach a great number of people very quickly. It is definitely something to consider as you navigate the ATS vendor space. 17

18 Other things to consider Vendor Experience Vendor experience is an important factor to consider during the evaluation process because it s not a short-term partnership that you re aiming to have with this company. Does the vendor have staying power? Will the vendor be there in the coming years? You want to choose a vendor that fully understands the specific challenges faced by recruitment professionals. 18

19 Other things to consider Does the vendor understand the market? Do they truly understand the workflow of third-party recruiters? Do they have the resources to keep investing in the software so that you always have the best tools to compete? You ll want to ask how many clients use their products and determine what type of reputation they have for supporting their product. Are they reliable? Are they investing in improving their product? Can they show you their development plans for the next 6-12 months and beyond? This may take some researching on your part, but it is well worth the effort. Look into client testimonials and references. If there is a positive general consensus across all sources, then you will feel even more comfortable selecting the vendor. 19

20 Determining your Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO) for any technology investment can be overwhelming and time-consuming, but if you unravel the complexities one step at a time it can become more manageable. If you ve been following this guide, then you ve already defined your business requirements and understand how the technology should support them. 20

21 Cost Software & Deployment Costs Over Time Time SaaS Hosted On-Premise The next step should be to sketch out the high-level project scope by identifying different department needs and areas of crossover so you can begin to prioritize functionality. Then outline a time period (e.g. 5-7 years) over which you can measure the project s value. This will help you determine what costs may arise over the long haul. Next, try grouping costs and benefits together. For example, most IT investment costs can be broken down into four categories: 1) labor 2) hardware 3) software and 4) training. Finally, review your TCO model with key stakeholders to validate assumptions and adjust for future risk. 21

22 Do your Homework Investing in an ATS is a big decision and with today s tight economy, it s important to understand whether the returns from this technology are worth the investment. Make sure you do all of your homework. Be transparent when talking to vendors about your business challenges. A good vendor will work with you to understand your business and show you how their solution will address your specific needs and challenges. 22

23 Before you even sit through a demo, have a conversation with the vendor around exactly what you need the system to do. Make a detailed list of the functions you are looking for in the new software and explain what doesn t work about your old system or your current manual processes. Despite the intricate process of evaluating multiple systems, it s important to spend the appropriate amount of time researching and finding a solution that is the right choice for the long haul. The last thing you want to do is choose poorly and spend thousands of dollars later migrating data to a new system. Do the hard work up front. It will pay off in the end. 23

24 Vendor Questionnaire 24

25 To get you started, here are a few key questions to ask when considering an ATS provider: 1. How long does it take to implement the ATS? 2. What existing technology do I need? 3. Does the ATS integrate with other applications (e.g. payroll, background screening, etc.)? 4. What is your average system uptime? 5. Is the ATS easy to use? 6. Do you provide live or on-demand training support? 7. Do I maintain ownership of my data? 8. How often are system updates rolled out? 9. Does the system operate in real-time? 10. Are there fees for searching, reviewing, and integrating existing data? 11. Can search fields be customized? 12. Can jobs and candidates be compared side by-side? 13. Are follow-up contacts, s, and notes recorded and searchable? 25

26 About Bullhorn Bullhorn creates software and services that help recruiters put the world to work. For over ten years our innovations have powered the recruiting and staffing operations of fast-growing start-ups up through the world s largest employment brands. Headquartered in Boston, with offices in St. Louis, Vancouver, London and Sydney, Bullhorn s applicant tracking system, recruiting CRM, and social recruiting products serve more than 10,000 clients representing nearly 200,000 users across 150 countries. Please visit our website at to learn more about Bullhorn s full suite of recruiting software tools. Have an immediate question? Speak with an expert: call GoLive8. 26

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