A common misconception in recruiting is that budgets are created only once a year. While you might turn in a plan on a given day, the legwork that goes into budgeting is ongoing. And it touches all aspects of talent acquisition — from the people doing the work to the people you’ll eventually hire, as well as how the work gets done.

The goal of your recruiting budget is to maximize your efforts while minimizing dollars spent. The outcome corresponds directly with your people, process and product and how well these things work together — so how can you budget more effectively all year long? 

Here are three tips to help you get started:

Determine your human needs 

Budget-wise, people represent a huge variable — both those you employ and those you’re looking to recruit. Before creating this line item, you need to make a few key decisions: How will you be hiring? How many hires will you need to make over the next 12 to 18 months? Will you rely solely on an internal team, or will you outsource to a staffing agency? If both, how will you divide that spend? 

These are big questions to answer; ultimately, they depend on the size of your company and your organizational objectives. You’ll also need to determine whether you have the right people in place on your existing team to help grow your workforce. 

For example, according to SHRM, most recruiters average 30 to 40 open requisitions at a given time. If you need to make 1,000 hires in the first half of the year but only half of your current recruiters can handle that size workload, it might be time to beef up your staff (another budgetary concern). 

Refine your recruiting process 

After you’ve determined your people landscape, it’s time to focus on your processes. That means figuring out what to stop, start and continue doing. Change is constant when people are your business, and it can be hard to analyze your processes when you’re steeped in them. 

Given the personal nature of work, it can also pay to bring in third-party support. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate and improve your processes without offending anyone. Otherwise, you run the risk of disenfranchising Tom when you dismantle his onboarding process or Jen when you overhaul her interviewing matrix. Factoring third-party help into your budget helps you stay optimized and up to date, without having to reallocate funds later to fix things. 

Whatever approach you choose, make sure you fully understand the inputs, outputs, throughputs and bottlenecks in each moment of your recruiting process — down to the micro-moments that make or break the candidate experience. This line of sight lets you think outside the box, reconfigure what needs immediate fixing and stay attuned moving forward. 

Reevaluate your technology 

When budgeting around your tech stack, remember that technology exists to help humans. If and when it stops helping, then it’s time to make a change. You’re not married to any one technology, despite what the contract might say. If there’s a solution on the market that is better and cheaper than what you’re currently using, it’s worth exploring. 

Keep in mind that there isn’t one perfect applicant tracking system (ATS); rather, there’s the ideal ATS for you and your organization right now. That doesn’t mean it will be the right one forever, and by including tech in your budget, you get to reconsider everything.  

When evaluating your tech spend, work your way through the stack to find out how much is being used. Do you rely on all solutions equally? Do some carry more weight than others? Does each perform to the best of its ability? Technology often becomes disposable without constant innovation, but that’s your vendors’ responsibility — not yours. There are line items in every recruiting budget that go underutilized, so don’t feel bad when you discover dust accumulating on a few.

Budgeting effectively is a tall order, requiring ongoing introspection and analysis on the part of the organization. But by planning ahead, you can ensure goals get met throughout the year — not just at the fiscal end.

William Tincup is the President of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.