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HRIS vs. ATS: Which HR software solution do you need?

Gravitating towards one unique software solution for all HR related activities has become a common mindset among a large number of recruiters. Somehow the notion of having a separate specialized recruitment software (ATS) on top of an all-in-one HR software (HRIS) represents an unnecessary complexity combined with great cost for many. 

After years of being in the business of creating a powerful ATS solution, we’ve realized that there are two common myths circling around the idea of why it is better to have an all-in-one HRIS for performing all your HR functions. 

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  1. “When I purchase a HRIS solution, I will anyway have an ATS integrated within the tool so I don’t need another specialized solution!” 
  2. “It is much cheaper for me to buy HRIS with an integrated ATS, instead of purchasing two separate solutions!”.

Before busting any myths, it is important that we provide you with a clear distinction between an all-in-one HR solution (HRIS) and a dedicated ATS. The most important difference comes from the HR process for which they are being used. 

While an ATS provides assistance in recruiting new talent and makes your hiring tasks more efficient and systematic, HRIS, on the other hand is here to assist with all post-hiring related tasks.

Okay, now that we have an objective distinction between the functionalities of the two tools, we would like to set the record straight once and for all. Therefore, in the following paragraphs we’ll present you with a list of 10 things you should consider when making a decision whether all in one HRIS or separate ATS is the right solution for you!

ATS vs. HRIS infographics

1. Integrated or separate ATS?

Implementing separate ATS in addition to your all in one HR system, brings a lot of benefits that come with specialized tools. Even though some HRIS solutions offer an ATS already integrated within their tool, this type of solution lacks the specific features and the precision offered in a separate solution. It is important to mention that the two tools work with entirely different sets of data which can bring value to one another but definitely cannot be substituted by one or the other. 

Just like with anything else in the world, when you have a solution (or a company or even a person) which deals with a wide variety of tasks, the quality of those tasks becomes significantly lower in comparison to a specialized solution (again, or a company or a person) that uses all of its  resources for upgrading one specific aspect of their job. The same goes for ATS vs. HRIS - ATS brings benefits by being the best at performing recruitment and hiring tasks, while HRIS provides lower quality support in the same area. Since some of the best practices of today's HR require a high quality Career Site, tailored campaigns, fast and efficient sourcing, referral programs, advanced analytics and much more you might want to consider implementing a tool which would support you in such work. 

2. Career site quality

Let’s start by asking a simple question: Is your HRIS solution offering a way for you to create your own Career Site but the site just looks like a bunch of job ads and you would have to spend a fortune and outsource designers and developers to really have a site that is representative of your company? 

For that reason, implementing a separate ATS solution becomes convenient since you can enjoy a fully customized Career Site. Besides the good looks, it enables you to create separate landing pages, optimization for mobile, keeping track of analytics and bunch of other things that became a must in today's recruitment. Since a separate ATS solution specializes in recruitment - only one aspect of the HR profession, there is more space for such a platform to build its features to extremely high quality, ultimately saving your time and money. 

3. Better way of sourcing your candidates

One of the most recognized benefits of using an ATS is leveraging its powerful sourcing tools. Finding the right candidates without spending days on manually searching for each of them represents a huge advantage of the tool. By being able to spend less time on sourcing candidates and relying on the tool to do a good job, not only that you increase your efficiency but it also leaves more time for you to focus on strategic aspects of your job. 

4. Creating campaigns

While HRIS does a great job with keeping track of the needs of your current employees, it is impossible for it to do the job of attracting them. Within an ATS solution, you can create recruitment campaigns in order to send personalized campaigns with job recommendations relevant to each candidate. Additionally, you can communicate with your candidates through multiple channels (email, SMS, Whatsapp, Viber or calls), track and analyze your email campaign performance (open, deliver, click and bounce rates), and see which candidates engaged with your campaign and which didn’t.

This gives an additional value to the tool since besides hiring, the campaigns offer a way to keep your communication with candidates as a constant and build and maintain relationships with them for a long time. 

5. Setting up a referral program

Without a dedicated ATS solution you won’t be able to explore the benefits of a referral program within your organization. Just like we’ve mentioned above, sourcing quality candidates is one of the most important, yet time consuming tasks for any recruiter. The ability to implement a referral program which would systematically gather candidates referred by your exciting employees, increases your chances for hiring great staff and works in favor of your employee satisfaction. Your employees can now be rewarded for a successful referral and motivated to keep participating in a co-creation of their own working environment.  

6. Talent pools 

Having a large database of candidates makes it difficult for you to organize your talent in a meaningful way which would save your time and help you create a more personalized communication with candidates. A dedicated ATS works for you in this case in order to help you organize all your candidates. Are you interested in sorting all your student base into one Talent Pool from which you’ll be able to create specialized communication regarding Job Fairs or Campus recruitment? Or would you like to create a specific campaign tailored for all Software Developers in your database and keep them up to date with all new openings at your company? Using an ATS makes this way of sorting your candidates possible and desirable. You can finally have a clear overview of all candidates with shared attributes and adjust your hiring efforts accordingly. 

7. Candidate pipelines 

For when you’re struggling to supply your business demand and all the candidates for hard to fill positions are somehow slipping through your fingers, it is beneficial to have an ATS solution with Candidate Pipelines. Not only that this tool helps you have a clear representation of stages in which your candidates are currently at (interview, assessments stage and so on) but it also enables you to establish a continuous communication with them and have ready-to-hire candidates anytime you need. Moving candidates and easily navigating through the stages of your personalized pipeline will result in a better overview of the hiring process and make you more prepared. 

8. Analytics as a mindset and a tool

Good hiring practices nowadays go hand in hand with advanced analytics. Keeping track of your Career Site visitors and their behaviors, demographics of your applicants, all the numbers behind your hiring funnel and job posts, enables you to turn your hiring into a lucrative aspect of your business. People Analytics has become a true must have in the era of new and proactive HR. Besides having the right mindset and focus on using analytics for the benefit of hiring great employees, it is impossible to pursue such a goal without an adequate ATS tool. Therefore, making sure that your tool is following your needs and improvements will ultimately reflect on financial returns for the company. 

9. Create better candidate experience 

All of the features mentioned so far highlight direct benefits of implementing a dedicated ATS on top of your HRIS solution which leads us to some more implicit advantages. It is no news that making sure that you are offering the best candidates experiencing possible and the most smooth hiring process should be in your focus. The stressful period of looking for a new job for candidates makes them sensitive to the way they’ve been treated by the company which reflects on their long term attitude towards the company. 

Nowadays, more than ever, when good talent can pick and choose among a wide range of companies fighting for their attention, it’s become extremely important to stay relevant and transparent in your communication with the candidates. No matter how beneficial it is for you to implement a HRIS solution and have your everyday HR related tasks taken care of, you shouldn't be compromising when it comes to hiring an ATS for recruitment processes. 

This is when it became quite clear that the myths from the beginning of our blog really remain just myths instead of a more affordable reality. There is no easier way to say it than stating that providing a bad candidate experience permanently diminishes your employer brand and you should focus all your efforts on avoiding such scenarios. Investing in an additional tool becomes a smaller cost for your business if it leads to better hiring and higher retention rates.

10. HRIS vs. ATS - How about both?

Finally, setting up your HR department that will simultaneously hire the best talent and make sure that all employees' needs are taken care of, asks for both ATS and HRIS implementation. Just like HRIS isn’t capable of providing you with adequate tools and features when it comes to hiring, ATS has no business helping you with tasks such as vacation days of your employees and so on. Because of that, having both softwares set up and working simultaneously represents an optimal combination for performing high quality work within your HR department.

Therefore, our point of view is that you should be making those crucial investments in order to have a complete department (or an individual working in HR) ready to tackle all HR related challenges of today.

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