Some Required Legwork

This story accompanies From Cycle to Cycle.

Monday, February 1, 2010
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Recruitment is often viewed as a core HR competency, so when the idea of outsourcing these services comes up, stakeholders understandably get sensitive about such a proposal. Still, with the right approach -- specifically, a comprehensive checklist of questions to ask and tasks to perform -- companies can help ensure a successful implementation. Here are some key considerations: 

Clarify the business case. When computer software giant CA, headquartered in Islandia, N.Y., first outsourced its recruitment in North America and India, its initial effort was unsuccessful. Sreekanth K, vice president of global HR operations, says CA's original vendor was misaligned with the company's requirements.

While the vendor was highly efficient at process management, it didn't understand CA's strategic talent needs. After CA switched to a new provider, it saw improvements in cycle times and quality of hires.

"You need to be very clear and focused on why you want RPO," says K. "Once you are clear about it, that will help you choose the right RPO provider." Stating the case around cost savings, quality of hires, process improvements and other criteria should be the first steps toward outsourcing, he adds.

Ensure you have headroom for growth. Scalability is a requirement buyers often cite when explaining their choice of vendors, so don't underestimate the importance of the provider's ability to grow with your organization. Ed Newman, president of Los Angeles-based service provider Futurestep, says he's often asked about his company's capability to deliver in overseas markets.

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"When I talk to U.S.-based companies, they might have challenges in these other regions," he says, adding that Futurestep has operations in 17 countries. "The fact that I can have some knowledge of overseas markets and be able to connect with people on the ground helps."

Check out the bricks-and-mortar. The RPO industry is still young and developing. As a result, numerous unproven vendors are trying to make you their first real client. To avoid becoming a guinea pig, conduct site visits, says Jamie Minier, president of Findlay, Ohio-based RPO provider The RightThing.

"Make sure you are seeing RPO facilities before you engage," she says. "One of our customers went to visit our Findlay, Philadelphia and Vermont facilities. Make sure [prospective vendors] are aligned with your values and vision. Make sure you get out to the service centers that are critical to you. And always check those references."

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