By: Helios on April 6th, 2015

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How to Best Plan for an ATS Change

HR Tech | Business Management & Strategy | Best Practices | Talent Acquisition

I recently spoke with an HR leader who is considering moving to a new Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in the next year.  Knowing that we are in the midst of implementing a new ATS, she wanted to know what kind of timeline she should have in mind.  Generally speaking, to incorporate all recommended steps, it could take 4 to 5 months to make the change to a new ATS.  In order to be fully prepared and have a process with some rigorous due diligence, consider the following timeframes:timeframe for ATS

  • Build Requirements: 1 to 3 weeks
  • Vendor exploration and vetting: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Vendor selection, reference checking and contract/price negotiations: 1 to 3 weeks
  • Sign contract and schedule launch meeting: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Implementation, integration, testing and training: 8 to 12 weeks

If your firm can move more quickly and has an existing well-documented process, you may complete the process more quickly.  If your firm has a slower timeframe for making decisions and/or needs more customizations, it could take longer to complete.

What to Consider When Switching your Applicant Tracking System:

  1. Create a list of required features and functionality you need in a new system. Think about both your must-haves and nice-to-haves in this process. You will want to consider factors such as OFCCP compliance if you are Federal contractor. You may be seeking mobile enabled (responsive technology) in your career site. You may also want to enhance and improve your SEO. Map your current processes and determine where new or enhanced technology would improve your recruiting efficiency and scalability. This information becomes your assessment tool which you will use to evaluate ATS systems.
  2. Determine which ATS systems you want to include in your vetting process. Reach out to the selected vendors and share your requirements. Seek vendors who can respond to your specific needs.
  3. Schedule demos with the vendors who meet your requirements. This may require several meetings with each vendor to get a clear understating of capabilities and functionality.
  4. Narrow down to your finalist vendors.
  5. Check references for your top vendors.
  6. Start pricing and contractual negotiations.
  7. Select an ATS, negotiate and sign contract.
  8. Schedule your implementation launch.
  9. Prepare all of your internal process documentation necessary for implementation. Include integrations with third parties.
  10. Launch Implementation.
  11. Plan for data migration from your old system. Decide what data you are going to bring over.
  12. Test the new system configuration. Ensure work flows and applications are set up to specifications.
  13. Train your team on using the system.
  14. Begin communicating with and/or training other users (vendors, hiring managers, etc.)
  15. Coordinate the new Career landing page with your website developer.
  16. Fully test the new system.
  17. Go Live and troubleshoot any remaining issues/integrations.


The process of selecting and implementing an ATS will not happen overnight.  If you are seeking a quality system which provides your firm enhanced functionality, efficiencies and scalability, the investment of time will have been well worth it.  For more information on planning the change to a new ATS, contact me at 703-860-3882, ext. 133.