RPO & StaffingTalent Acquisition

Defining RPO in a Fast-growing European HR Market

Reaping the benefits of recruitment process outsourcing requires careful due diligence in the selection of providers.

by Jason Collings

Companies looking to recruit talent are faced with a bewildering array of offerings: High Street to executive, contingent or retained, search, selection, interim, contract. When it comes to optimizing performance and leveraging increased service levels, a plethora of new offerings is available—managed service programs, preferred supplier, master vendor, recruitment management, and employment process outsourcing—all claiming to save you time and money.

This spread of offerings reflects a fundamental change in the services most hiring companies are looking for. No longer are corporations interested in the traditional recruitment model. This shift has occurred thanks to the evolution of services such as HR BPO and HRO. These value-added, cost-saving, and efficiency-boosting services have led to a parallel staffing creation: recruitment process outsourcing (RPO).

Outsourcing of recruitment with a goal to increase value and efficiency sits high on the agenda of most forward-looking organizations. With more than half of the HR budget typically accounted for by recruitment-associated costs, the reason is pretty clear. In addition, the benefits of a properly conducted RPO solution are greater, faster, cheaper, and more readily implemented than any other element of HR BPO and HRO. By outsourcing time-consuming recruitment processes, an organization can free its HR function and hiring managers to focus on core business. In addition, successful RPO can deliver higher quality of hires, reduce hiring times, decrease hiring costs, increase retention, produce higher user satisfaction, improve metrics, enhance internal and external reputation of HR, increase referrals rates, and improve internal and external recruitment branding.  

So why isn’t everyone doing it? Companies know what they want, but what is not clear is how to do it. RPO providers seem to have done a spectacular job of muddying the waters with inconsistent and changing definitions.

So what is RPO, and what does it include? Does it include talent sourcing for permanent or temporary staff from entry level to senior executive and any portion of the same? How about management of the selection and assessment process? On-site or off-site management? Vendor management or single-source supplier? Local, European, or global? Selection, assessment, and optimization of talent management technology?

The answer, quite simply, is that it can be any and all of the above. Every organization is different. They may look for the same benefits and value adds, but the differences in their needs, current positions, and internal structures mean no one size fits all—a fact that most suppliers have missed. Many offer fixed and inflexible solutions with minimal variation. This simplifies the offering and makes the presentation process easier, but is it really bringing optimal value to the client?

Most companies considering an RPO partner should examine the proposed solution carefully. A complex, detail-filled model with a defined process for every contingency will inevitably try to force your company to fit it. By contrast, a flexible and high-level strategic model, which undertakes a detailed and extensive discovery process and solution design phase prior to commencement, can be precisely built to your needs and still leave slack for change and evolution in your business.

Key questions for your proposed supplier should include:

  • Do they undertake a detailed process audit?
  • Is there a solution designed to meet your specific needs?
  • Is your input sought and seen as essential?
  • Are they technology agnostic, avoiding reliance on one or a few talent management technologies which may not be best suited to your needs?
  • Do they see process improvement as a key deliverable, rather than just doing the same process as you already but a little cheaper?
  • Do they have a proven track record of recruitment, as opposed to someone with theoretical knowledge but no practical experience of delivery?
  • Is the solution scalable to changing business needs?
  • Do they match your organization’s geographic coverage to potentially optimize economies of scale on a regional or global basis?

The answer to all of these should be “yes,” and if it is not, it is probably not going to be the right solution. RPO can be the most immediate and successful HR BPO/HRO solution you can bring to your organization, but it needs to be the right solution.

Tags: RPO & Staffing, Talent Acquisition

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