December 23, 2020
4 min read

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) Trials – Why I refuse clients to have them!

Written by
Yang Josiah Chow

If enterprise ATS are too complex to trial independently, what else can you do about it?

A common stage for most software sales cycle including enterprise Applicant Tracking System (ATS), is the trial account. This is after customers have witnessed an initial demo, delivered possibly over video or by a live consultant. The customer now wants to have a “hands-on” feel of the product.

Nothing assures a customer more than the ability to directly feel, engage, and interact with a product. It is the same reason why I still prefer to buy my furniture in furniture shops, why I test drive a car, and why I view a house before signing a lease.

However, when it comes to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), a double standard in me arises. I advise the client against this seemingly innocent request, despite completely understanding where the client is coming from.

Am I a double standard person? I hope not. But if you would allow me to explain…

Not all ATS systems are the same

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) from different vendors have various characteristics. One of the main differentiating factors is whether the ATS is meant for Enterprise or SME use. Enterprise ATS are designed to cater to enterprises with complex recruitment workflows and high volume recruitment. SME ATS are on the other hand, simple, and evidently straightforward. They are designed for ease of use, especially for companies with straightforward and simple recruitment workflows. Recruitment volume is also significantly lower than enterprises.

Therefore, one would immediately be able to tell the difference on whether an ATS is meant for Enterprise or SME use, just by the simplicity of use.

You might say, hey, I am able to tell the difference between a SME and an Enterprise ATS just by looking at the vendor’s website! However, this knowledge is not necessarily made explicit online.

More than often, software vendors brand themselves as an ATS that can handle all kinds of recruitment, SME or Enterprise. This branding stems from the need to not box their capabilities.

In this article, I will explain why the complexity of Enterprise ATS does not support independent trials and what you can do about it instead.

Enterprise ATS – just how complex are they?

Enterprise ATS are so complex that they require up to 6 weeks to pre-configure, just to match a customer’s required recruitment workflow. Even then, continual User Acceptance Tests are done to ensure that the settings and configurations satisfy the customer’s unique requirements. This phase – the implementation phase – typically takes up to 12 weeks. 12 WEEKS.

In these 12 weeks, implementation team will allow customers to demo and trial the account themselves. This is to allow the end-users to experience the system and raise feedback if the ATS configurations is still not aligned with their current recruitment process.

Only after the 12 weeks, would we be confident in allowing the customer to retain full control of the system. By then, the ATS would have been designed for their unique use. The customer would already have been trained relentlessly on using the product too.


Trialing an Enterprise ATS system before configuration

And that is where my discomfort lies in.

Trialing an Enterprise ATS pre-configuration leads to a situation where customers are left confused with the product. They would have felt that their time was wasted trialing the product, and they come out with more questions than answers.

An enterprise ATS is designed to be complex, filled with countless back-end preconfigured settings to fit the unique and complex recruitment demands of an Enterprise. This pre-configuration requires a huge investment of time and resources on the vendor’s side. Therefore, this is only done during the implementation phase, when a client has actually purchased the product.

Therefore, vendors do not preconfigure their systems for trial use. And this “vanilla” version often causes more distress and confusion than acceptance.

What then should I do? I nevertheless need to test drive a car before purchasing a car? Can’t I do the same for software?

Yes! I agree. There is no way a customer should purchase a product without having gone through some form of sensory experience with it.

This is where we provide a 3 hours live guided workshop to bring users through the ATS system. This is a hands-on guided workshop where we grant users control of the trial accounts under the watchful guidance of our solutions consultant.

This way, customers get an in-depth experience of the system, without exposing themselves to the complexities of an Enterprise ATS.

Basically, you get to drive the car with a driving instructor doing most of the driving (not the best analogy, but I tried)!

Next time I buy an Enterprise ATS system

Find out if the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) vendors you are sourcing from are really designed for Enterprise use. If it is, do understand the complexities of such a system, and take note that trialing it independently will unlikely add any value to your decision making process.

On the other hand, do prepare to commit some time in allowing vendors to go through a guided hands-on workshop with your team. This way, your team will not need to scratch their heads in confusion in their attempts to trial a complex ATS.

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