A prudent businessperson's guide to applicant tracking systems
Written by MedZilla Staff

Part one of a two-part series.
As a veteran of the recruiting industry, I regularly monitor emerging HR/recruitment technologies that help manage labor. About a year ago last February, I listened with interest to the rumblings about Web-based applicant tracking systems (ATSs). I had been a Resumix user in the early '90s and thought, "WOW! This could be pretty interesting."

I had questions, however. Was it possible to take a software-based ATS product and Web enable it, while ensuring data security? Better yet, if my data now resides on the vendor's servers, does that data become the vendor's or remain mine?

As the buzz grew stronger, I started doing research, beyond what the vendors were saying. My question was simple: How can I protect my data from becoming the property of someone else?

During the next several weeks we will explore more about ATS, providing you with the information you need to make informative decisions. In my experience, there are few guarantees in the area of an ASP/ATS; however, there are precautions that any prudent businessperson should take when investing in products and services provided by another company. While most are common sense, many are overlooked. Here are the first seven precautions, which can be applied to ATS. You'll find seven more in part two of this series.

  • First, investigate the vendor on your own. You can conduct research on a public company on sites like www.hoovers.com and find basic financial information for private companies at Dun & Bradstreet at www.dnb.com.
  • Ask the company to describe its history, product(s) and services offered. Ask also about all partner companies and subsidiary relationship(s). You want to make sure that the company's subsidiaries are not your competitors.
  • Ask how many clients the company has that fit the profile of your needs. (Most ATSs are generic workflows.)
  • Ask about technology, features and functionality. Can they do this and can they do that? You are buying the technology, not slick graphics.
  • Put the ball in the company's court. Give the company a list of all the ATSs you are considering and ask the people there to give you their perspectives. Ask for what issues you should watch out and how they position their company, products and services relative to each vendor?
  • Ask if the company is expanding or decreasing its workforce. Decreasing isn't a good sign and could affect your ability to receive product support in the future.
    Probe about support, asking where the company is located, how many offices it has and how you will be supported.

Stay tuned for seven more helpful tips in part two of this series on ATS.

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