I can implement that ATS in 30 days! This is about as easy to do as naming a tune in less than 3 notes, yet it is the most common statement I hear when ATS vendors are selling their technology to customers. Is this really possible? It could be, but the results usually leave you far from the expectations set during the ATS sales cycle. Here is what typically occurs:
- A standard implementation not really enabling your process
- A very long list of follow up projects to transition the implementation from standard to process enabling
- Decisions made at implementation time leave large process gaps and create un-reportable data
- Users don’t understand the new system and create their own ad-hoc method for hiring, resulting in low adoption and more un-reportable data
But sometimes you are dealt an unrealistic timeline for real business reasons and need to make the most of it. Here are some good practices every project sponsor can adopt to set the implementation off on the right step and be prepared to work at the vendor’s pace.
- Have a seasoned project manager who understands ATS implementations and can dissect vendor proposed timelines to adjust them for what works with your company. Those who have been through these implementations can correlate culture decision making patterns, team dynamics, complexity and overall readiness into realistic timelines. Many “off the shelf” timelines begin to slip when meetings have to be booked weeks out instead of days, configuration decisions cannot be made right away, and resources are allocated to multiple tasks that take longer than there are hours in the day. Don’t forget most of your resources are trying to do a day job while having to spend 50-75% of their time on a rapid implementation.
- Organize your stakeholders to make rapid decisions. Before you start your implementation, take full inventory of all those that touch the hiring process and establish points of contacts that can make decisions on behalf of the process areas they represent. Use your change management mechanisms to keep all these stakeholders apprised of the implementation progress and project management to have them teed-up to make quick decisions.
- Empower the team with Guiding Principles and an escalation process at the beginning of the project. Guiding Principles give the implementation team a framework to make decisions that align to the overall strategic objective of the project. If decisions cannot be reached, the team will know what to do to keep the project moving forward.
- Make sure your stakeholders know their process and current gaps in advance of the implementation so design sessions can focus on process enablement by the system.
- Keep the scope of the implementation as contained as possible to reduce complexity. Determine the scope by looking at what absolutely must be included in the first phase of the implementation.
- Set expectations early for a multi-phased project so resources remain involved after the initial launch to continue necessary work for those items deferred from phase 1.
Rarely do I find companies that can pull off a 30 day implementation; however, following these practices will certainly allow the project to move at a rapid pace.