The Essential Guide to ATS Implementation

You’ve spent months researching new recruitment software, chatting to vendors, and exploring demos. You’re finally reached hard-won internal consensus. IT and procurement are on board and contracts are signed.  But now comes the most crucial stage of buying a new ATS: implementation. Implementation doesn’t just impact how fast your team start using your snazzy new tech (sometimes by a degree of months). It’s also the biggest factor determining the long-term value you realise from your investment.

A great implementation doesn’t just get your new ATS live. It lays the foundation for consistent adoption and high engagement from your team and hiring managers. It roots out weaknesses in your current approach and facilitates new, more effective processes that deliver better recruitment and business outcomes. Let’s talk about what you should expect from your ATS provider to make sure the process runs smoothly. Then we’ll consider your team’s responsibilities – because successful implementation is in your hands too.

Five Things to Expect From your ATS Provider to Guide a Successful Implementation

Every provider will have a slightly different implementation process, but there are some universal expectations to ensure your project runs smoothly. And make sure you get maximum value from your ATS for years to come.

1 – Clear, Realistic Timelines

You’re understandably eager to get cracking with your new ATS – but realistic, honest timelines are more important than speed. A good implementation team will account for minor mishaps and delays, so barring extraordinary circumstances, your implementation should run to time.

Spiralling deadlines aren’t just frustrating; they can cost you money, as you’re forced into extending your outgoing contract (or disrupting your recruitment, putting hiring on hold and hurting your candidate experience).

“At Tribepad, we say implementation typically takes around 12-weeks – but that can vary a lot. We’ve had clients who needed extremely light touch customisation and implementation only took four weeks. On the other hand, if you have multiple layers of complexity with lots of integrations and custom configuration, that’s a longer process.

 Your ATS provider should communicate a realistic timeframe depending on your unique situation and needs, so you know what to expect and can plan accordingly. There’s nothing worse than unrealistic timelines and false promises.”

Paul Macfarlane, Service Delivery ManagerTribepad

2 – A Robust, Structured Process

A robust, structured implementation process is integral to delivering on-time. Implementation is a project and your ATS providers’ implementation team are the project managers. You should feel you’re in capable, organised hands.

Expect your provider to communicate exactly what’s happening, when, who’s involved, and what their responsibilities are (on both sides). That said, you should also expect flexibility around your needs and capabilities. Your providers should tailor the implementation process so it’s realistic for you.

3 – Comprehensive Training and Support

ATS implementation isn’t just about setting up new technology. It’s about getting your team up, running, and confident using that technology. Training and support are the most important part of a successful implementation.

Think about the format training should take, too. If your recruitment is dispersed across different offices and time-zones, how will you ensure everyone who’ll use your ATS receives training? Are you reliant on the project sponsor remembering their training and passing lessons along? What about when you add new users in the future?

“Ask your software provider how their training works and what future support is available. We always get fantastic feedback on our training walkthrough videos because they give clients autonomy to ‘learn by doing’ at a structured pace, rather than overloading information then letting you loose.

Whatever approach your provider takes, good support for the future is non-negotiable. If your recruitment team changes, or a new hiring manager comes onboard, you need an ATS they can quickly start using. Or else adoption will stagnate.”

Paul Macfarlane, Service Delivery Manager


4 – Streamlined Migration

Migration gets a bad reputation for being difficult, time-consuming, and error prone. Those things needn’t be the case if your provider has taken steps to make migration simple and seamless.

Your candidate database is your recruitment team’s biggest asset, so comprehensive but simple migration is an absolute must.

Likewise, ask your providers how they migrate your existing users, permissions, and jobs across. Ultimately, a great implementation causes very little disruption, as you seamlessly switch from your outgoing ATS and onto your new ATS. Templates and bulk actions should make replicating the best bits of your current process simple.

5 – True Partners

Hopefully, you’ll be working with your ATS providers for many years to come. You should never feel like a number, or one in a queue. The longest-term, most productive relationships come when your provider isn’t just a ‘provider’, but a true partner who’s committed to helping your team be your best.

Part of that means holding you accountable – because your provider isn’t solely responsible for successful implementation. If you want to get up and running faster — and realise more ROI from your ATS — there are some things you should do too.

3 Tips for your Recruitment Team to Guide Implementation Success

Paul Macfarlane, Service Delivery Manager at Tribepad, shares his three biggest secrets to successful ATS implementation:

  • Build a dedicated project team. “Implementation isn’t hands-off. The clients we see blitz implementation fastest assign ample resource to the project upfront, clearing space in busy schedules and committing to the process. A great team can make implementation straightforward and seamless — but we can’t do it without your support.”
  • Get stuck into testing. “Your ATS is set-up in a test environment first for a reason. We see some clients who are scared to click things for fear of messing something up. Don’t be! Play around with it. That’s how you’ll learn, and spot any process tweaks you need.”
  • Be open to new processes. “Technology isn’t a magic wand. Most clients buy a new ATS because they face challenges that disrupt their biggest recruitment goals. Those challenges usually aren’t just a result of current software limitations but also speak to ingrained process problems. If you port imperfect processes into your new tech, you’ll have the same old issues. Your provider should help you make the right tweaks, to see better results.”

Successful ATS implementation is a shared responsibility. Yes, you invested in new recruitment software to free time and alleviate workload. But your new tech can’t do its job without your engagement, support, and commitment during implementation. The more you put in at this stage, the more you’ll get out for years to come


Tribepad is a specialist talent acquisition software provider, serving some of the UK’s best known organisations including the BBC, Tesco, and The Church of England. Tribepad’s Applicant Tracking System, Video Interviewing, Onboarding and Freelance Management solutions are used by more than 21 million people, in 15 languages worldwide.

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Category ATS
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