CEO’s Letter: The Best Opinion Money Can Buy

Why the RPO Baker’s Dozen is different from many of the other ratings providers tout in presentations

Each month, we receive a significant number of communications from providers and analyst firms that announce a listing or ranking of services. Some have wordy explanations; some are very pretty with multicolored interlocking circles; and some have quadrant mapping, which has been all the rage. The presence of multiple methodologies is healthy for the market—HR executive teams are bound to have different perspectives. The problem I am raising today is that many of those methodologies are woefully indefensible. They are unlike our annual RPO Baker’s Dozen (see page 15) and our five other Baker’s Dozen rankings, which are based on customer satisfaction surveys. They are, in fact, not some analyst’s opinion, but from feedback of actual users of the services.

When we see the results for things like quality and scale, and they bear so little resemblance to the database we have created over the last eight years, we are shocked. That’s right shocked. One analyst firm (I am dying to name people here but my editors/parental surrogates will just take them out) had a company listed at the top of its RPO universe that our database shows only executes a handful of multi-year contracts. When pressed on the methodology, the author of the report weakly admitted that they used only self-reported data from the service providers and stated that they did not believe providers would exaggerate. Of course, not…

Another firm does an incredibly wordy and detailed report based on self-reported information. They also interview a few clients of rated companies and a few “knowledgeable people” who follow the market. One industry report provides a good assessment of market activity but has an equally questionable process whereby they develop the “concept” by finding sponsors for the research and then feature them as the best practices examples. Yeah, ok…

Let me get right out on the table that HRO Today survives on the advertising and sponsorship revenue from providers. It is a given that we have a market relationship with providers, but the Baker’s Dozen process is an algorithmic treatment weighting the data from HR practitioners responses. In fact, we always publish the methodology behind it. This year, we even hosted committees composed of both providers and practitioners to advise us on the questions for the most recent iteration of the survey. (We also have the only “non self-reported” ranking in the Corporate Responsibility world).

Buyers beware: When a provider tells you that they rated at the top of the XYZ List, make sure to ask the methodology behind the rating or ranking, where the methodology is published, and whether it is based on analyst opinion on a buy side investigation of facts. I want to be clear: I am not declaring all analyst rankings bad—I am saying there are many that are not founded in anything other than opinion, and it is up to you to decide if that is something you want to rely upon.

The HRO Today RPO Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Survey has become an institution. Of course, we think ours is best, but we also believe our mission is to provide information and education on managing complex and often international HR departments. We would be remiss if we did not report some of the inexplicable press releases we have seen behind other so-called industry rankings.

I want to congratulate all of this year’s companies on the HRO Today RPO Baker’s Dozen Customer Satisfaction Survey and wish you success in your 2016/2017 procurement cycle.

Elliot H. Clark
CEO

Posted September 15, 2016 in RPO & Staffing

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