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How to choose your ATS platform - it shouldn't be about the technology

So many people/companies embark upon a quest to acquire or change their recruitment technology platform each year. I get asked by an awful lot of people what the best Application Tracking System (ATS) would be, and I see many more ask the same in online forums. It’s a natural question. Asking that question seems to be where most people start, yet there is so much work that needs to be done before even thinking about the technology and getting to the point where you ask that question.

What do I mean? I mean start at the beginning not in the middle. The project to acquire a new ATS can be broken down into 3 distinct parts; planning, evaluation and selection, deployment. One could argue the selection of a product is likely to be the easiest and most straight forward step, with all of the hard work being done in both the planning and deployment phases.


Without a clear plan there is a risk that things will become derailed or mutate very quickly and then any idea of a deployment date or schedule is likely to be missed. It is so apt with any project but particularly with an ATS deployment. It’s not something that can be fully covered in a single post, however creating a plan is quite straightforward but it does take some doing.

TIP - Benjamin Franklin famously quoted “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. One thing learned a long time ago was that to rush into a project without adequate planning or in fact to rush through the planning and structural phase without covering all the bases is guaranteed to open you up to problems or even worse, regrets later down the line.

The Planning phase itself can also be broken down into manageable chunks. Getting this right and then finessing it, getting it agreed to by all stakeholders and approved is likely to take some work. However it is crucial that this is done and it needs to be done by a Project Manager with a detailed understanding of what recruitment is all about and what your Talent Attraction & Acquisition teams do on a daily basis. Someone who has done it before and knows what is needed and when is vital.

Evaluation & Selection

Like the Planning Phase this can be divided into distinct chunks

a) Building out your long list i.e. which vendors and solutions should you consider.?

These are likely to be products you or someone in your team has used before or who you might have heard good things about. If you are completely in the dark there are plenty of forums where people will offer advice on which is the best ATS etc. Be aware however their opinion whilst helpful for you to build you long list is just heir opinion at that time. Everyone’s use and experience of an ATS is subjective. There are products that will be better suited to the very large enterprises and there will be those that are better suited to the smaller organisations, some will be good for niche specialist models whilst others are more suited for volume hiring – chose wisely – it is essential you choose a product that suits you.

TIP - please only consider products that are available as true SaaS solutions. If you want to know what we mean by that and why, please drop us a note.

b) Finalising your requirements and selection criteria. Defining your requirements in such a way that you get the best responses from the vendors you include in your RFI process. It is crucial to get this right because this has to be specific to your organisation. It is these criteria that you will compare products against and use to determine a successful match. Don’t forget its not as easy as asking others what the best ATS is, a product that matches the requirements of one company may not meet yours and believe me you will have a list of requirements specific to you and your organisation as long as your arm.

c) Evaluating and selecting the right solution for your company and the model/strategy you will employ for the next 3-4 years. It could be quite straightforward if you’ve got your planning right and if you have defined your requirements well. We highly recommend engaging with your Procurement Team to build a Request For Information (RFI). This will help you gather the requisite quality of information as well as allow Procurement to do the due diligence necessary to assess the vendor as a suitable supplier. Once you get the list down to the 3 or 4 products that you feel confident with, you may wish to issue a Request For a Proposal (RFP) again Procurement will help you with this. Once you have the responses you’ll need to assess accordingly to ensure you get the best deal. One thing we have learned over the years is that any product you choose will work, how it works and how well you and your team work with the consulting and support staff at the vendor should be an important determining factor, as will price and other commercial issues of course – never fail to speak with other users of their products and services, and not just the ones the vendor provides you with as part of the RFI – do your own research and ask about the configurability, help and assistance needed and offered as well as their continued support services. All will be key to getting the best of your product of choice


Getting this right, giving yourselves enough time, having the right internal and external support functions as part of an extended team is vital to the success of the project. Expectation setting and management is almost as important to the success of the project as recognizing the benefits gained after the ATS has been used for a few months

Well we’re not going to give away the crown jewels so to speak.

However one tip and we can’t stress this enough: whilst you will be able to run a project of this kind internally and you are likely to choose a good product or vendor, how much easier can it be if you’ve engaged with an independent consultant or firm of consultants who will be able bring to you experience gained across many organisational structures with a diverse range of requirements, using a variety of different ATS solutions? The earlier you bring this expertise into the project, perhaps even before it is a formal project the greater the benefit you will receive at the same time as reducing the risk inherent in doing something like this.

It's not all about the technology.


If you would like to have an informal conversation to explore this post or the wider topic further please contact Granite7 at and someone will be in touch.

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