Implementing an ATS in the High-Volume Retail World

October 2, 2018

Image result for Human Resource Job Application Icon

My daughter recently got her first job with a large retail company. This company has been touted as a current user of a very sophisticated Human Capital Management (HCM) system complete with online application capabilities. Despite the tool this company has in place, my daughter’s hiring and onboarding process was entirely on paper copies of forms that looked like they had been run by a mimeograph machine from the early 1980s. It is a shame that such an expensive system this company has is so underutilized, resulting in a ton of extra work for local HR and Operations! However, it’s not surprising. As a Senior Implementation Consultant and Project Manager, I have seen the challenges presented with Applicant Tracking System (ATS) implementations in high volume hiring organizations time and again. These challenges become exponentially more complex with a decentralized structure, like what is found with many retail organizations, including the organization my daughter is working for, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Client & The Challenge

I recently had the pleasure of working with an HRchitect client on a full HCM implementation which included a Talent Acquisition process optimization and an ATS implementation. The system the client chose to implement was Oracle Taleo. This client is also a decentralized retail organization with approximately 500 stores countrywide. The client’s hiring process is store-centered and driven by store managers. As you might expect their peak sales season drives hiring volume up into the five digits. For that reason, store managers became our key stakeholders and were the stakeholder group around whom most design decisions were made. One of the key challenges in this engagement was to create a system that was very easy for store managers to learn and use. It was also crucial that the ATS was configured to meet complex security requirements set forth by the corporate Human Resources team.

Ease of Use

Prior to the move to the new Taleo system, job requisitions had been created for the store managers and were loosely supported by HR. The data fields in the requisitions were inaccurate more often than accurate, and typically went stale with the lack of corporate oversight. HRchitect addressed this challenge during the implementation project by creating templates for every store. This enabled the client to limit the templates available to each store manager, substantially easing the effort of selection. These templates pre-populated almost every field on the job requisition, in addition to providing the correct candidate selection workflow and populating almost all fields on the offer grid downstream. The candidate selection workflow enhanced the store manager’s efficiency in the selection process by hiding candidates that had not completed their application, or candidates that did not meet the basic requirements. Additionally, we worked with the Client to create a fully automated onboarding process leveraging the ATS. This new process is driven by the template information and has vastly improved the store manager’s ability to onboard new hires quickly and effectively during peak season.


One challenging requirement the client had was that no store manager would have access to any candidates or requisitions that were not associated with their particular store of responsibility. Furthermore, there were fields and forms throughout the hiring process that the client did not want to be viewable to store managers. Best practice in ATS implementations suggest that this requirement be addressed through creating multiple user groups, driving security throughout the system.  There was a conflicting restriction that only one user group could exist with the system still being supported by integration. So how did our team overcome this obstacle? This challenge was met by leveraging coverage areas in combination with assigned custom roles which drove access to different application types, candidate selection workflows, and form fields. The set up was labor intensive on the front end, but the resulting configuration met the client’s security requirements and a manageable solution for the client moving forward.

Key Takeaways

If your organization is about to embark on an ATS implementation, there are several key takeaways you should keep in mind. First, high volume decentralized ATS implementations require a highly skilled and knowledgeable implementation team. It is worth vetting your internal implementation team members and implementation partner team thoroughly, so you don’t end up like the organization I mentioned in the opening of the post. Second, it is crucial that design decisions are not rushed. Special care should be taken to ensure that not only are detailed business requirements collected, but that they are validated regularly throughout the design process. Lastly, having a representative or two from the field on the design team is the best way to ensure you are meeting your stakeholder’s needs.

HRchitect has worked with many different sized clients, industries, and systems, which gives us an expansive knowledge of best practice to help your organization. Further, if you are in the market for a new or replacement system, HRchitect’s Secure Selection process will help to ensure you choose the right system for your organization’s needs.  Or if you have an existing HCM system, we can help with implementation and/or optimization to ensure that your organization gets the most from your new technology and that your investment continues working best for your organization.


About Elissa Montoya

Elissa is an HR professional with over 15 years of HR experience in the world of Talent Acquisition, General Human Resources & Project Management. Throughout her career, Elissa has worked with companies across many industries from small to Fortune 500 with a focus on optimizing their Recruiting and Onboarding processes and managing large scale projects.

In her role at HRchitect, she acts as both project manager and functional consultant on the implementation team. Elissa is both a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR).