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If you haven’t thought about switching to a new ATS, now is the time. The market for ATS is exploding with hundreds of options to choose from. Whether you are in the midst of a search or may begin one in the not so distant future, it’s important to plan for one of the most critical parts of the transition — the data migration process.

It happens all the time. Recruiters are excited to have a new tool but are unprepared for the challenges that come with migrating data from one system to another.

The data migration sets the tone for your implementation, and the process can vary widely for a lot of reasons. While you cannot prepare for all of the unknowns, you can and should take reasonable steps to plan for the migration before the process takes place. To make sure your transition is as seamless as possible, discuss the migration with the following stakeholders and build your plan accordingly.

Question Your Current ATS Provider

It’s the dirty, little secret of the recruiting world, but some ATS providers make it needlessly difficult for you to access your data. At Loxo, we see it all the time, especially when clients are transitioning away from a legacy ATS. They have been known to delay sending your data for weeks, charge exorbitant fees for additional data exports, or require certain documents before handing over your data.

While you may have to jump through hoops to get your data, you can prepare for potential issues in advance by talking to your account representative. Come prepared to the meeting with a list of questions to keep the conversation on topic and ensure all of your questions are answered.

To help you get started, here is a list of questions that are always relevant regardless of your unique requirements.

If you are receiving vague answers or your contact is deflecting your questions, it’s a sign of a potential issue. Continue to ask for more detail to identify any future bottlenecks.

Involve Your Team

Before you hand over your data to your new ATS provider, sit down with the rest of your team to discuss the migration process and the overall implementation plan. Try to include as many team members as possible for an in-depth conversation. Start the conversation by outlining the reason for the switch and then clearly address how your new ATS offers the solution. Once your team is bought in, it’s time to have a difficult conversation about what to do with your data.

The most obvious solution is to copy over all historical data to your new ATS. However, we advise against taking that approach. Over the years, your ATS will become bloated with irrelevant, outdated, and incomplete data, making it difficult to find the information you actually need. If you copy all of your data over to your new ATS, the same problems will still persist. All you will have done is moved poor data from one system to another. Therefore, these conversations are critical to your team’s success going forward.

As you begin to have these difficult conversations, there will naturally be good arguments from both sides on which data to keep and which to remove. Listen closely, be prepared to question your team, and adjust your plan based on the feedback you receive. Here are some questions to help you get started.

The more you clean your data and the less you migrate, the simpler your data migration will be. This is your time to have a fresh start with your new ATS and eliminate the data quality issues that have plagued your team for years.

Your New ATS Provider

The third and final conversation you need to have is with your new ATS provider. In fact, this shouldn’t be limited to one conversation but rather several conversations, starting when you initially begin evaluating the ATS and continuing until your data migration is fully completed.

As you begin to research vendors, ask them about their data migration process. The way the vendor plans for the migration is just as important as the product’s features. You’ll want to choose a vendor who is transparent, responsive, and will work with you throughout the data migration process.

Before you sign the contract, it’s important you understand what you are committing yourself to and are able to qualify the vendor’s data migration experience. Here are some questions to consider.

Planning for the Migration & Managing Expectations

Once you talk to all key stakeholders, it’s time to build out your data migration plan and communicate relevant details and important deadlines to your team and new ATS provider.

Also, be sure to plan for what you will do while your data is migrated. Will you continue to work in your old ATS or your new one? And when will your team officially transition over to your new ATS?

While you will want to adhere to your plan as closely as possible, it’s equally important that you remain flexible and open-minded for the duration of the migration process. Remember your data may not look the same as it did in your previous ATS. When moving from one system to another, your data may be displayed differently due to differences in the system. Don’t worry! Your data is still there. You’ll want to work closely with your vendor’s data migration team to understand the differences between the systems.

Most importantly, be patient. There will always be an initial learning curve as you get acclimated to a new system, but soon you will be able to better utilize your data to achieve great results.

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