Many of us can recall the excitement generated by the first Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS’s hitting the market in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After all, activities related to sourcing, screening, selecting and offering jobs to candidates was perennially a very manually intensive endeavor that also produced many false positives (unsuccessful hires) as well as false negatives (potentially great hires that were never brought into the recruiting process). The first wave of ATS’s proved to be extremely successful in the market due to the impact of their automation capabilities, with virtually all of the ATS market leaders back then either getting acquired and folded into larger HCM platforms, or continuing their path to amassing very large, typically global, customer bases today.
It’s no secret that many large organizations operate in a somewhat insular and siloed manner. This dynamic applies to corporate functions where value-creation from taking advantage of operational synergies could otherwise be quite significant. Historically, human resources and finance departments, for example, were among the operating areas known to closely collaborate only when absolutely necessary. Actually, the 1992 book, "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," comes to mind when I reflect back on how I needed to navigate around a lack of integrated HR/finance data and processes when I was a global HR practitioner, especially since this was often exacerbated by the use of stereotypes like "people/people vs. numbers/people." The combination of these factors clearly created a sense of disconnectedness between the two groups. And having different definitions for commonly used business terms — like headcount and labor costs — as well as different methods for measuring and reporting on these items didn’t make the situation more manageable. But that wasn’t the whole enchilada of operational challenges when linking HR and finance: You also had to account for different processing and reporting cycles and cutoff dates, which often created hours of agonizing reconciliation work for the respective teams.