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

In part one of this series, I offered seven strategies for investing in Web-based applicant tracking systems (ATS). After all, there are important questions to ask about the systems, including: How can I protect my data from becoming the property of someone else?

This series is designed to help you answer that and other questions about ATSs. Refer to the last article for the first of the 14 tips. Here are the remaining seven precautions that any prudent businessperson should take when investing in products and services provided by another company. Of course, these can be applied in the case of ATSs.

  • Ask whether the vendor met its service-level agreement 100 percent of the time. Ask for the company's entire client list and tell your contacts there that you want to call those on the list. Ask current clients about reliability, customer support, data backup, and how well the vendor's development staff communicated during the setup phase. Would those references use that vendor if they had to do it again?
  • Ask the vendor if it has a profitable business entity? If profitable, ask for profit-and-loss statements from the last two years. If not, find out why. Is the vendor public or private? Who are its investors? If private, what is the source of its funding?
  • Ask if the company is for sale or involved in any transactions to expand or become acquired?
  • Ask questions about the vendor's data center. Who owns it? How many people work there? Who has access to your data? Who owns the data? Who converts the data? Who owns the interfaces? Who fixes problems?
  • Ask about the backup and disaster recovery processes. Do competitors that use the same data center have access to the servers? Are they sharing the servers with other companies? Can the routers easily be switched off?
  • Make sure you fully document your system's source code. You need to know exactly how your system works if that vendor goes belly-up. What's more, you don't want programmers to be the only people holding your company's information. If they leave, they take that knowledge with them.
  • Finally, get everything in writing. I spoke to an HR professional who was a client of iSearch.com, an ATS vendor that recently went out of business. She used the experience she gained from having one vendor close up shop and took extra precautions with her new vendor. She had the new vendor put the product code in an escrow account with instructions that her company had the right to obtain the code and run the application in-house-just in case the company goes out of business.

    Over the course of the next several weeks we'll explore more on the world of ATS, providing you with the information you need to make informative decisions.

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