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Outsource magazine: thought-leadership and outsourcing strategy | August 22, 2017

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Recruitment process outsourcing: challenges and opportunities (Part 2)

Recruitment process outsourcing: challenges and opportunities (Part 2)
Outsource Magazine

To read the first part of this article, click here.

The issue of a provider’s ability to deliver (or not) on a global level was one which elicited a good deal of comment from the attendees – but one perspective which kept coming to the fore was that regardless of the specific structure (whether it be one provider delivering globally; one provider subcontracting to other local suppliers; or multiple providers for different regions) what is crucial is the ability of all those involved in the process to work as a single team. If the buyer of services does not feel that it has one coherent team, with aligned tasks, expectations, culture etc, the advantages of the outsourcing model will swiftly be lost.

This ideal depends in part, said one attendee, on the willingness of the provider to be open about where any potential coverage gaps are to be found: “There has to be that level of transparency and honesty up-front. So not, ‘Give me all of it! We’ll handle it!’: reality isn’t like that.”

It was pointed out that that process works in both directions: buyers need to be prepared to be told that they are not at the right stage of development to maximise the RPO model, or to work successfully with a provider at a more advanced level of maturity: “A lot of companies I’ve worked with over my career that wanted to consider outsourcing got really shocked when I said ‘I’m not sure I want to work with you; I don’t think you’d be a good partner.’ It is shocking, if you’re the CFO or the president, to be told the provider doesn’t want to be associated with you in a dysfunctional dynamic and would rather walk away.”

The guests were unanimous that such conversations were a sign of the increased maturity of the marketplace, and a recognition that – as with the broader outsourcing space – the bottom line is not the only factor driving transformation programmes of this sort.

It was also noted that buyer organisations often display different degrees of maturity region by region, or even function by function, and that providers need to be able to cater for this when creating solutions – and need to be aware that they may not be the most appropriate supplier for every region and function within that organisation. Different drivers require different solutions; emerging markets often require very different solutions from established ones, with different types and quantities of hires required.

That can also give rise to a disparity in deal lengths and the requirement for providers to be agile with regards to the commercial terms they offer; it also however places the onus on the buyer to, once again, ensure it has one coherent team to deal with and the right staff in place within the organisation to manage a variety of different approaches. That may mean reworking the composition of the internal team: someone who has been excellent at managing the hiring process internally may not be the best relationship manager following the move to an outsourced model.

It was pointed out that a lack of internal clarity, and of an understanding of internal structures, drivers and capabilities, is a major obstacle to effective RPO: just as a maxim in outsourcing generally is “don’t outsource a mess”, buyers need to be fully cognisant of exactly what it is they require, right across the organisation, and what structures are and need to be in place prior to commencing any transformation (this is especially true for global organisations operating in many different locations with, as noted above, different drivers and different requirements).

As one guest said, “I think the amount of understanding in organisations that are considering outsourcing is: ‘What do we want to achieve, and what do we really need to get out of the service provider?’ And then clearly define what you need to do… We need to work across all units of the organisation with what we want to achieve. It’s a long process and you have to do your homework.”

In the eyes of another attendee, the key questions to consider were: “Can we go to somebody who can do this job better? What are our risks if we do it internally? What is that problem? Can we create a solution internally? What are the risks with that?”

The roundtable came to a close with the question of how a provider should deliver results – and if this matters. In the words of one guest:  “When you’re an end-user of the services, do you care if they deliver through the cloud, or any other part of the infrastructure as long as your software is working on time? I guess from a contract manager’s perspective you shouldn’t just focus on that, but you need to know your partner’s business. They don’t need to know about you, but you do. So you can benchmark – but there’s another perspective of ‘I don’t care! I just want the result.’”

“You need to really engage and adopt a flexible solution,” said another. “It’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s really important that everyone does due diligence. You need to scrutinise and look at the risks involved. It’s a culmination of everything that you do: take it seriously!”

This article is a write-up of an Editor’s Roundtable conducted in association with Futurestep, who sponsored the event. For more information please contact the editor at

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