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The Cost of Building an Applicant Tracking System: A Comprehensive Guide

Explore the costs of building an ATS, a process that can exceed $700,000, in our latest analysis of development, security, and more.

By Sophie Smith

8 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

Table of Contents
The Cost of Building an Applicant Tracking System: A Comprehensive Guide

In today's highly competitive hiring landscape, businesses of all sizes are leveraging technology to streamline their recruitment processes.

A key player in this technological revolution is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), a software application that enables recruiters to manage job postings, applications, and the entire recruitment lifecycle from one central platform.

Yet, the decision to build an ATS internally or opt for an existing solution like GoHire's customisable ATS can be fraught with considerations, not least of which is the cost.

This guide will dissect the financial and strategic elements of building an ATS, providing insights that could be pivotal for your business's recruitment success.

Let's delve into the different elements contributing to the price tag of developing an ATS and explore alternatives that could save your business money.

Interested In A White-Label ATS? 🤔

GoHire is the best white-label ATS to grow your brand with award-winning recruiting software.

The Core Elements of an ATS

1. Job Posting and Distribution

  • Multi-Platform Posting: The ability to post on various job boards, company websites, and social media channels.
  • Automated Distribution: Automation for distributing job posts to different platforms, reducing manual effort.

2. Resume Analysis and Management

  • Smart Analysis: Algorithms that can sift through resumes and categorise them.
  • Database Management: Storing and managing candidate information securely.

3. Candidate Tracking and Engagement

  • Automated Communication: Sending emails, scheduling interviews, and providing updates.
  • Collaborative Tools: Enabling collaboration among hiring team members.

4. Integration with Existing Systems

  • HR Systems: Seamless integration with HR and payroll systems.
  • Communication Tools: Integration with email and other communication platforms.

5. Analytics, Reporting, and Compliance

  • Data-Driven Insights: Tools to analyse hiring effectiveness.
  • Legal Compliance: Ensuring alignment with legal requirements.

6. User Experience and Accessibility

  • Responsive Design: Accessibility across various devices and browsers.
  • Intuitive Navigation: Clear and concise user interface.

The Tangible and Hidden Costs

1. The Vision: Planning and Design

You've decided to build an ATS tailored to your unique needs. First up is planning.

  • Market Analysis: Understanding your competitors' products will cost both time and money.
  • UI/UX Design: Crafting an intuitive and user-friendly interface is not a walk in the park.
  • Prototyping: You'll want a working model to test and refine.

Estimated Cost: $15,000 - $40,000

2. The Heart: Software Development

This is where the real magic happens!

  • Custom Coding: Your front-end (what users see) and back-end (what makes it all work) development is the soul of your ATS.
  • Integration with Existing Systems: You'll want your ATS to play nice with your existing HR tools.
  • Special Features: Fancy adding AI-powered candidate ranking? That's going to cost extra.

Estimated Cost: $80,000 - $300,000

Interested In A White-Label ATS? 🤔

GoHire is the best white-label ATS to grow your brand with award-winning recruiting software.

3. Ensuring Perfection: Quality Assurance

Nobody wants a buggy system!

  • Automated and Manual Testing: Ensuring that every part of your ATS performs smoothly.
  • Bug Fixing: If something's broken, you'll need to fix it.

Estimated Cost: $15,000 - $60,000

4. The Guardian: Hosting and Security

This is where you protect your treasure (data).

  • Hosting Fees: Where will your ATS live? Cloud hosting offers scalability, while dedicated servers provide more control.
  • Security Protocols: Firewalls, encryption, regular security audits – all these contribute to a Fort Knox-like protection for your data.

Estimated Cost: $12,000 - $84,000 annually

5. Playing by the Rules: Legal & Compliance

Navigating the legal landscape is a challenge.

  • Data Privacy Laws: Staying compliant with regulations like GDPR is crucial.
  • Intellectual Property Protection: You'll want to protect your unique ideas.

Estimated Cost: $4,000 - $20,000

6. Never-ending Story: Ongoing Maintenance & Updates

Your ATS is alive and constantly evolving!

  • Feature Enhancements: The industry doesn't stand still, neither should your ATS.
  • Security Updates: Constant vigilance is the price of security.
  • Technical Support: You'll need to assist users when they encounter issues.

Estimated Cost: $18,000 - $90,000 annually

A Savvy Alternative: Enter GoHire

Building an ATS is undoubtedly an exciting but costly venture. But what if you could get all the benefits without breaking the bank?

GoHire offers a white-label ATS solution tailored to your needs minus the hefty price tag. It's like having your cake and eating it too!

White-label ATS solutions offer several advantages:

  • Cost-Effective: Reduced development costs as the base product is already built.
  • Quick to Market: Faster deployment compared to building from the ground up.
  • Customisable: Ability to customise the appearance and functionality to align with your brand.
  • Scalable: Ability to scale the solution according to the business's growth.
  • Comprehensive Support: Ongoing support and updates from the provider.

Finding the Right Path for Your Business

The road to building an ATS is filled with twists and turns. It's a thrilling ride but comes with a price tag that can easily exceed $700,000.

If you're considering this path, it's essential to understand every facet of the cost.

But if the investment seems overwhelming, solutions like GoHire's white-label ATS might be the savvy route to take.

Ultimately, whether custom-built or white-labelled, the right ATS can become your recruitment superhero, saving the day one perfect hire at a time!

The decision lies in understanding your specific needs, evaluating the associated costs, and aligning them with your strategic objectives.

By weighing these factors carefully, you can unlock a recruitment process that is robust and efficient and uniquely yours.

What factors should be considered when estimating the cost of building an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

When estimating the cost of building an ATS, factors to consider include development and design costs, database management, hosting and infrastructure, ongoing maintenance and updates, integration with other systems, and potential customization based on specific business needs.

What is the typical range of costs for building an ATS from scratch?

The cost of building an ATS from scratch can vary widely, but it often falls within the range of $100,000 to $500,000 or more, depending on the complexity of features and functionalities. Smaller, basic ATS solutions may cost less, while highly customized and feature-rich systems can exceed the higher end of this range.

Are there cost-saving alternatives to building an ATS from scratch?

Yes, there are cost-saving alternatives. Many businesses opt for ready-made ATS solutions, which offer a more budget-friendly option. These off-the-shelf ATS systems can be customized to some extent and often come with subscription-based pricing models, reducing initial development costs.

What are some hidden costs associated with building and maintaining an ATS?

Hidden costs may include ongoing expenses such as server hosting, security updates, data storage, software licensing fees, and the need for dedicated IT personnel to manage and troubleshoot the system. These costs can add up over time and should be factored into the overall budget.

How can businesses make an informed decision about whether to build or buy an ATS?

To make an informed decision, businesses should conduct a thorough needs analysis, evaluate their budget constraints, and assess their technical capabilities. They should also consider the long-term costs, scalability, and support requirements. Comparing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for building versus buying an ATS can help guide their choice.  

By Sophie Smith

8 Aug 2023 · 3 min read

GoHire’s Head of Strategy, redefining talent acquisition through tech. Passionate about efficiency, scalability, and strategic innovation. Let’s connect to discuss business strategy and the future of HR tech.


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