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 meet expectations. We spoke with Brett Kashanitz, Vice President of Engagement & Service 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.
It seems like 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. Implementation is about 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. It’s about having the right change management. It’s about ongoing measurement. Clients do not always realize how many factors are involved in implementation. At CareerBuilder, we’ve modified our procedures in order to make the process of implementation a little bit more amenable to clients by providing them additional tools to use internally to manage change management. We have developed our own model of change management – which we call AADAM – which focuses not just on doing what’s necessary to fulfill on our client’s current project with us, but also helping them take that next step within their own organization as well.
Could you explain more about the AADAM approach?
We developed AADAM as a resource to go along with a client’s implementation plan in order to make sure clients know exactly what needs to be done internally to be successful in their own implementation. It’s also a way to ensure we’re helping with client needs every step of the way with engaging in the products they have purchased. CareerBuilder has amazing implementation teams that will ensure the clients’ products are set up to meet their needs. With the AADAM model of change management, we are giving them the tools that we will reinforce during implementation and that will set them up for strong adoption of the tools within their companies. The first step in any software acquisition is to take the time to announce the purchase (the first step of the AADAM model) and bring together the resources that will be impacted by and benefit from the tool. The next step in the AADAM model is helping to align impact with the company’s or team’s goals, bridging the gap of why the purchase was made and helping to build understanding that the effort won’t be wasted. The next step is developing a plan to train resources and roll out the new process, which will lead to higher adoption for the product and ensure that the organization is engaged in its usage. The final step of the plan is measuring the impact and sharing the success associated with the project, which safeguards long-term benefits for the organization moving forward.
So what are some of the biggest obstacles to a successful implementation?
One of the biggest obstacles that clients run into is lack of agreement around processes internally and lack of understanding why purchases are made. Many times, especially when it comes to HR-related software, 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 thing a client needs to be asking 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. Or they charge the client an exorbitant amount of money to do it. For us, there are no additional fees for support or implementation. That’s built into the product cost. Oftentimes, clients will find additional charges for things like data feeds, exports and configuration that they didn’t know about before purchasing. If clients don’t ask enough questions about what is included in that overall price, they can easily make a purchasing decision they regret later. Most important of all is to understand, ‘What will my user experience be like after this implementation is completed?’ The value is not just from the tool itself but the experience the users will have and what it provides to the company in return.
What differentiates CareerBuilder’s implementation process from other vendors?
One of our biggest differentiators (and this is based on feedback we’ve gotten from clients) is the amount of training, development and resources we put toward implementation. We create a roadmap that works best for our clients, then we help train them and walk them through the testing, the tools and the resources we provide. Another differentiator is our focus on a long-term partnership with clients. In order to do that, we have to think about, ‘How do we drive the business in a way that is most meaningful and helps the clients utilize the tool and make an impact on their business?’ We understand that if clients don’t see an immediate impact from those products, it can cloud their long-term view, and they will go back to their old ways and not use the products at all. We’ve also gotten a lot of positive feedback on the consultative approach we take. 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 positive feedback for the ‘heavy lifting’ that we do.
What kind of support should a client expect from their vendor after an ATS implementation?
With an ATS implementation, having regular touch points and check-ins is critical, because 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 and a whole new way to do business. There is always going to be a challenge in 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’s one takeaway you want potential software buyers to understand?
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? The three things we focus on at CareerBuilder are, number one, the stability of our platforms; number two, the accessibility of our resources; and number three, having the best overall customer experience that we can possibly give them. 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.
Brett Kashanitz has over 10 years of experience helping clients optimize their recruitment process and leverage talent to positively impact their organization. As vice president of Engagement & Service at CareerBuilder, Brett creates change through strategic process improvement engagements, mentorship and training activities within the Global Operations organization, whose mission is to focus on delivery of superior service while deploying new technology and strategic, quality-based process improvement initiatives.
Learn more about the how’s and why’s of ATS implementation with CareerBuilder’s free guide to understanding ATS implementation. Download it today!