Multi-process HRSourcing

CEOs Corner:What’s Right with the HROA?

HRO Today’s CEO looks at the governing body of the industry, accentuates the positives, and calls out the naysayers.

by Elliot Clark

So I was on an airplane in the parking lot they call “the active taxi way” at O’Hare International Airport and, yes, my flight had joined others in a giant aluminum tube version of the conga line waiting for belated permission to go airborne. And yes, it was like déjà vu all over again and again and again.

The man next to me was a bad combination for a seat companion. He was both irritated and highly vocal. He went on and on to no one in particular about the indignities of air travel. In reality, a nasty summer storm was passing through the airport, and it looked ugly out of the little windows. To focus on something positive as the lightning lit up the sky and in response to his latest rant about the airlines, I said, “Yes, but they do have a more-than-10-sigma safety record, and we should look on the bright side.” This statement infuriated him, and he, thankfully, stopped talking and I started thinking.

I had been in Chicago that day for my first HROA Board of Trustees meeting. I am not writing a positive piece about HROA because I was just invited to the board. Those who know me well realize I would not have wanted to be involved if I were not already feeling positive. There on the tarmac at O’Hare, I was thinking about the criticism I have heard directed at the HROA and why people generally focus on the negative and dwell so little on the positive.

Bear in mind, I am not drawing an analogy between HROA and airline operations. Airlines need more improvement than any organizations on earth, but I am saying that people need to spend a little time dwelling on all of the things the HROA does well.

Firstly, the HROA provides cohesion. The HRO market is a community, and moreover, a community in a rapidly growing industry. Rapidly growing sectors are by definition sloppy and ill-defined. More experimentation than wisdom is the call of the day early on, and there needs to be a central place where members of the community can go for knowledge sharing, emotional support, and networking. Practitioners cannot buy that from consultants—they need that from each other. HROA offers this sense of community.

Secondly, the HROA has shown some developing success at governance. It is in the process of working closely with various standard-setting efforts to create a set of industry-wide standards and practices. You can find a feedback link on as a public service announcement. HROA’s affiliation with these efforts and the adoption by the industry of standards sponsored by a central governing association will offer practitioners considering HRO an important starting point in analyzing their options.

The HROA is also developing critical affinity groups. Pending affiliation with the Enterprise Buyers Group currently sponsored by Towers Perrin shows that the HROA is becoming a haven for practitioners seeking support from each other. The mid-market affinity group held its first meeting in August, and plans are underway for affinity groups in the public sector and other areas. One such platform, the RPO Alliance, has been dramatically successful in this subset of HRO and is holding its first forum Nov. 6 in Chicago. The RPO Alliance is a model of affinity participation, and anyone interested in RPO should not miss this event. Other initiatives include membership programs in concert with other associations that will offer benefits to new members. In short, many things are happening.

I also found the HROA leadership to be smart, committed, and capable. If anything, the biggest problem with the leadership, as with any non-profit volunteer association, is everyone has very busy “day jobs,” and the association would benefit greatly from more of its leaders’ time.

I do not understand why people feel the need to criticize first and learn later why they were wrong. It’s a pretty common failing of the species, but clearly there is far more right with the HROA. And it provides far more value than what you have heard. Whether you are a practitioner, a provider, or an advisor, your involvement and your membership would be a benefit. (And don’t listen to the guy in the seat next to you; he probably can’t fly an airplane anyway.)

Tags: Multi-Processed HR, Sourcing

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