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Pre-engagement is key to success in RPO commissioning, says expert

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Resourcing managers looking to hire Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) providers should spend several months pre-engaging with them before presenting options to procurement departments, a resourcing expert has suggested.

Santander’s lead for resourcing model design, delivery and implementation Hema Bakhshi advised organisations to hold several workshops and meetings with suppliers to ensure both parties were clear about what needed to be achieved.

Bakhshi made the comments at an event organised by Capita Managed Services, following its publication of research in to the RPO market.

Interviews with 21 blue chip organisations undertaken by the company revealed discontent within between suppliers and buyers. The report, Putting Innovation at the Heart of RPO, highlighted that some providers were intent on delivering a one-size-fits-all process, rather than a solution.

Bakhshi said resourcing managers should learn as much as they could and slim down their options before costs were discussed.

“It’s really critical that we understand what’s happening externally,” she said. “As a business all we see is what we’ve got internally. But when you are talking to different RPOs, they’re talking to different clients and their technology is industry leading, so we’d be silly not to engage in that conversation.

“I’m trying to make sure we have as much pre-engagement and work-shopping as you can possibly have,” she continued.

“You’ve got to be careful not to create a complete blank slip, because you have the parameters within which you have to work. But doing that absolutely helps.

“You keep that all away from procurement. The only people you put in front of them are the people you’re 100% certain can deliver the service. As soon as procurement gets involved there’s a price-war.”

Think about more than cost

Capita’s report revealed resourcing managers had a tendency to contract RPOs on cost alone.

Warner Bros Entertainment recruitment director Niki Gillies agreed pre-engagement was of the “utmost importance”.

She said investing time with RPOs at the start of a project could save time and money. She described a recent experience when searching for a new provider.

“I had meetings with all the people that we invited in to pitch to give them background on plans for the future, current temp numbers – that sort of thing,” said Gillies.

“One company actually decided their model didn’t work with what we were looking to do, as our business is quite segregated. They didn’t want to engage in a process and not be picked, and so they didn’t waste our time.”

She recommended that procurement departments should treat resourcing departments as a “client” and leave them to make the final decisions.

“I’ve been very lucky in that our procurement team treats me as the client,” she said. “They model all the financial things, have their input, make me aware of how much things are going to cost, but ultimately it’s my decision as the client. That model’s worked incredibly well.”

According to research from the Everest Group on the global RPO market, despite 12% growth the large providers have not increased their market share.