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FrontRunners for Applicant Tracking, September 2016 (beta)

Powered by Gartner Methodology

In the Applicant Tracking FrontRunners infographic above, the Capability axis starts at 3.20 and ends at 4.50, while the Value axis starts at 3.40 and ends at 4.70. Scales may differ between quadrants in order to capture the relative positioning of the specific products in each category.


The FrontRunners quadrant, powered by Gartner Methodology, provides a data-driven assessment of products in a particular software category to determine which ones offer the best capability and value for small businesses. To qualify for consideration as a FrontRunner in a software category, a product must have at least 10 unique user-submitted product reviews across the three Gartner Digital Markets web properties: softwareadvice.com, capterra.com and getapp.com.

The FrontRunners methodology assesses products on two primary dimensions: Capability on the x-axis and Value on the y-axis. Products receive a score between one and five for each axis. Products that meet a minimum score for each axis are included as FrontRunners. The minimum score cutoff to be included in the FrontRunners graphic varies by category, depending on the range of scores in each category. For products included, the Capability and Value scores determine their positions on the FrontRunners graphic.

The Capability score is based on three criteria: user ratings on capability, a functionality breadth analysis, and a business confidence assessment.

  1. The capability user ratings criterion captures user satisfaction with the product's capabilities. The capability ratings score is a weighted average of the one- to five- star rating scores from three user ratings:
    1. Functionality
    2. Ease of use
    3. Customer support
  2. The functionality breadth analysis is based on:
    1. The product's coverage of core software category functions
    2. The number of other products it integrates with, along with the number of other products that state they integrate with it

    For each of these data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a one to five score.

  3. The business confidence assessment is an indicator of whether the software company will likely continue to invest in the product for the next 12-18 months. The analysis is based on four data points:
    1. The product's current customer base
    2. The annual growth rate of the product's customer base
    3. The vendor's current employee base
    4. The annual growth rate of the vendor's employee base

If the company's size and product's customer base are both significant and growing, then the likelihood that the business will invest in the product is higher than in the alternative scenarios. For each of these four data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated to a one to five score.

The overall one to five Capability score is a weighted average of the scores for user ratings, functionality breadth and business confidence.

The Value score is based on two criteria: user ratings on value and product adoption.

  1. The value user ratings criterion captures users' satisfaction with the business value provided by the product. The value ratings score is a weighted average of the one- to five- star rating scores from three user ratings:
    1. Overall ratings of the product
    2. How likely users are to recommend the product to others
    3. How valuable users consider the product to be relative to its price.
  2. The product adoption data analysis assesses if the product is positioned in the market as more of an industry standard with higher adoption (thus earning a higher score), or as an emerging competitor with more limited adoption (thus earning a lower score). The product adoption methodology analysis for each product is based on four data points:
    1. The size of the product's customer base
    2. The number of professionals in the market who have experience with the product (e.g., users, developers, administrators)
    3. The total number of user reviews across the three Gartner web properties
    4. The average number of times per month internet users search for the product on Google.

For each of these four data points, the methodology calculates the percentile ranking for each product relative to all other products in the software category that have qualified for FrontRunners consideration. That percentile ranking is then translated into a one to five score. The overall one to five Value score is a weighted average of the scores for value user ratings and product adoption.


Data sources include user reviews and ratings, public data sources and data from providers. The user-generated product review data incorporate into FrontRunners is collected from submissions to all three Gartner Digital Markets sites (softwareadvice.com, capterra.com and getapp.com). As a quality check, we ensure the reviewer is valid, that the review meets quality standards and that it is not a duplicate.

The business confidence and product adoption data comes from public sources, collected by either a third party data provider or by Gartner associates. As a quality check, we compare this data against data provided by the providers. We use this data to calculate a product's percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.

The functionality breadth data is collected from the providers. We check the data provided and challenge data that seems inflated or unlikely. We use this data to calculate a product's percentile ranking, which allows us to determine how products compare relative to one another rather than determine an absolute number.

by Brian Westfall,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: October 13, 2016

There are hundreds of ATS solutions currently on the market, with different solutions for organizations of different sizes, industries and hiring models. We’ve created this buyer’s guide to help you determine what type of ATS will work best for you. Here’s what we’ll cover:

What Is an Applicant Tracking System?
Overview of ATS Functionality
Benefits of Using an ATS
Applicant Tracking Systems BuyerView | 2014
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Market Trends to Understand

What Is an Applicant Tracking System?

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a core component of a recruiting software suite. It simplifies the recruitment lifecycle by automating the hiring process—from receiving online applications and reviewing resumes, to interviewing candidates and on-boarding new hires. It is believed that approximately 50 percent of all mid-sized companies were using some form of ATS in 2010, and that number is growing as more companies adopt HR technology.

Overview of ATS Functionality

You’ll want to consider an applicant tracking system if your recruiting and hiring process relies on tools such as spreadsheets or handwritten notes to coordinate the process of tracking applicants over the course of the hiring process. Tracking resumes and cover letters manually is not a sustainable system as your recruiting needs intensify, and an ATS can greatly relieve the administrative burdens associated with the recruiting process.

ATS Software Functionality


Applicant tracking Ensures that recruiters can track the progress of all applicants for open roles, from start to finish.
Applicant workflow Tracks where each applicant is in the recruiting process so recruiters can move them from one step to the next and ensure they don't fall through the cracks.
Candidate tracking software & communications Enables recruiters to manage and track email and other communication with candidates to maintain an electronic record of everything.
Interview management Allows recruiters to schedule interviews with candidates and track where they are in the interview process (e.g., if the candidate must pass through several interviews before an offer can be made).
Background checks Allows recruiters to submit candidates for background checks, view where they are in the process, be notified when they pass and, if they fail, the reason(s) why.
On-boarding Helps recruiters ensure all new employees fill out any necessary paperwork/complete any administrative tasks and are set up with the proper accounts, logins and resources to ensure they can perform their job effectively.

An ATS allows you to collect applications electronically through online forms. Screening questions can often be added to these forms to eliminate unqualified candidates, and many ATSs can parse resumes based on keywords chosen by the recruiter.

Once qualified applicants’ information is submitted through the online system, resumes, cover letters and additional information are saved into the ATS database and associated with the candidate’s profile. These features allow you to track candidates easily and manage their documents in one place, as well as store past applicants in the system who might be a good fit for a future position.

Once a candidate is matched, screened and ready to be interviewed, scheduling functionality allows the recruiter to coordinate schedules with the hiring manager and candidate through one system, and the inter-departmental functionality of an ATS allows hiring managers to access candidate data and leave comments. Additionally, some ATS software even initiates background checks, and sorts and stores paperwork during the on-boarding process.

Benefits of Using an ATS

The recruitment process can be arduous for both employers and candidates, but with a functionally robust ATS, companies can save time. From sourcing candidates to tracking current applicants and ultimately hiring the ideal candidate, an ATS will reduce the time and expense of hiring new employees for both HR departments as well as recruiting and staffing agencies.

The real-world results of using an ATS are compelling. For instance, the hiring cycle at KellyOCG dropped from 115 days to 37 days when the company implemented the prominent ATS solution MyStaffingPro. The time saved reduced the cost per hire, which could be as high as $10,847, to as low as $3,300.

In another instance, iCIMS Talent Platform software was implemented at Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Company, resulting in an overall cost-per-hire decrease of 71 percent. In fact, across Great-West’s 1,700 filled positions, the savings totaled $6.6 million.

Applicant Tracking Systems BuyerView | 2014

Over the years, we've spoken to thousands of companies considering new ATS software. As a point of reference, we thought it would be helpful to provide potential buyers with an overview of past clients' pain points and reasons for switching to a new software system. Key questions analyzed by the report include:

  • What method do you currently employ to track applicants?
  • Where are recruiters looking for candidates?
  • What are the top reasons for purchasing new ATS software?

To view the full report, click here.

What Type of Buyer Are You?

There are two distinct buyer types of applicant tracking software: recruiting agencies and corporate, or in-house, recruiters. Many vendors, such as COMPAS, have separate product lines tailored for each buyer’s needs, but here are a few quick tips to help distinguish which features you should look for depending on what type of buyer you are.

Recruiting agencies should look for ATSs that are candidate-centric. Since a recruiting agency’s full-time job is to source candidates for different clients, being able to compile and search a large database of passive and active candidates is key in order to be able to find the top candidates quickly and easily. Additional features recruiting agencies might want to look for include: contractor portals and timesheets for placed candidates, as well as client profiles and job requests. Some great ATSs that recruiting and staffing agencies should consider include: PCrecruiter, Bullhorn, myStaffingPro and Newton.

On the other hand, corporate recruiters may well value an applicant tracking system that can integrate with their core human resource information system (HRIS), if they currently use one. For in-house recruiters, the ability to share applicant information with the relevant hiring manager, as well as schedule interviews and gather feedback from those same hiring managers within one system can save time and decrease the number of days in the hiring cycle.

Some ATS suites will also integrate with onboarding software features to allow for a seamless transition from selecting a candidate to starting a new employee. Additionally, in-house recruiters may also wish to find a system that allows current employees to recommend candidates directly through the system, making employee portals a feature to consider. In-house recruiters should consider vendors such as iCIMS, BALANCEtrak, COMPAS or Simplicant.

Although these two types of buyers have different needs, it is important to note that the needs of recruiting agencies and in-house recruiters overlaps considerably, and the core functionality of most ATSs will cover the basic needs of both.

Market Trends to Understand

Web-based software is increasingly used for ATS systems. Almost all ATSs are now Web-based, which streamlines the recruiting process for the recruiter, current employees and applicants. With a Web-based ATS, it is easy to extend access to the system to anyone in the organization who is involved in the hiring process.

Resumator Web Browser


ATSs such as The Resumator allow recruiters to view candidate applications in a Web browser


Social recruiting is on the rise. An increasing number of ATSs are beginning to incorporate social media tools and platforms into the software’s functionality. While recruiters have used social applications like Facebook and LinkedIn to enlarge their networks, these sites are now becoming great sources for discovering passive candidates, advertising job opportunities and building talent communities for specific industries. The best ATSs are now developing socal-driven referral programs—allowing current employees to directly refer candidates—as well as tools to monitor which networks are delivering the most candidates.

Bullhorn Mobile


Many vendors, such as Bullhorn, offer a Mobile App


Recruiters are going mobile. Recruiters are quick to try new technologies that make their jobs easier. The prevalence of mobile and video technology as recruiting tools is growing, and the best recruiting software vendors are developing applications with this in mind. Video interview platforms, apps for smartphones and tablets, mobile versions of online job portals—all are emerging rapidly in the recruitment software market.

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