Although Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) has been around for about a decade, many still don’t fully understand its value. So, inevitably, many companies either keep recruitment in-house or they outsource it to a company who ends up simply replicating the process they already had internally. This would be like a manufacturer choosing to outsource their shipping and then renting trucks rather than engaging with a logistics provider to manage the operations.
What RPO Is Not.
Providers touting RPO solutions often offer little more than recruiter staff augmentation, where a client pays a monthly fee for an outsourced recruiter or team, but the client still has to manage and provide the thought leadership. While recruiter staff augmentation might help some companies, it loses the value of true RPO because the client has not outsourced the actual “process” itself. If your organization is accountable for the process, and the staffing provider doesn’t have skin in the game for process improvement or innovation, you’re probably overpaying for resources you could hire directly, and not realizing the true value.
Simply put, engaging a provider to give you “X” recruiters to replace your “X” recruiters, does not make it RPO, and it’s likely not going to provide the equivalent impact on time, quality, and costs.
What RPO Is.
In a truly outsourced scenario, you likely are engaging the provider for the following reasons:
- Expertise: Because RPO providers engage with many organizations, they naturally have access to best-practices. There should be a process in place to continually make recommendations.
- Technology & Innovation: RPO allows the time and focus on continuous evaluation, testing, and the implementation of many technologies and/or recruitment concepts.
- Scalability: Quickly ramp up (or down) operations as volumes peak.
- Continuous Improvement: Because it’s their business, an RPO provider should have strict governance, analytics, and process improvement methods to continually raise the bar on KPIs and SLAs.
- Flexibility: It’s typically easier for an RPO provider to adjust and roll out a new process or technology.
- Financial Justification: The business model should require a continuous evaluation of the current financials to ensure both parties’ success.
To realize these benefits of true RPO, it’s important to start off the engagement with key information contained in a Statement of Work outlining:
- A detailed definition of the overall process
- The roles of both parties for each step in the process
- Definition of the team structure (including which resources are shared)
- Key Performance Indicators and Service Level Agreements
- Technologies used (and appropriate licensing) mobile, use of AI, establishment of a dedicated talent community, etc.
- Understanding of who owns what data
- Sourcing strategy which aligns to key initiatives such as diversity or community outreach, and goes beyond standard job boards
- Reporting and governance of the program to ensure continuous improvement.
- A business model that protects both companies if volume experiences a rapid rise or fall.
Then, with all that in place, both parties can benchmark the current performance, and begin down a path of continuous improvement based on the objectives set, quarter after quarter, with the RPO making the appropriate recommendations for consideration.
Most importantly, make sure that not only does the team supporting your account directly embrace your culture, but that the organization as a whole has a culture reflective of the values important to your organization. As an example, if diversity is a key element, ask about the company’s own diversity efforts. Or if you have a culture of engagement, ask the provider about its talent engagement strategy and retention rates.
Under this arrangement, the rewards are more likely to be mutual and ongoing and deliver the performance originally sought when looking to outsource.