It's not uncommon for HR and procurement departments to work more closely together these days as organisations attempt to become as cost-efficient as possible.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the public sector, where more and more procurement processes are moving online – including those for recruiting temporary and contract staff.
So does this mean HR will lose control over recruitment as staff become a commodity to be bought online?
Martin Scarfe, director of government body Local e-Gov, and chairman of the public sector National e-Procurement Project, believes that HR has no reason to be worried.
"Quite the opposite," he says. "We can help HR control their budgets but we don't know about things like employment law or statutory sick pay. These days, it is not unusual to have agency staff working for you for more than a year. We know there are HR implications to that, which is why it is important that HR and procurement work together."
Put simply, e-procurement means buying and paying for services or goods online, often from an electronic marketplace. In the case of recruitment, such marketplaces are typically made up of several preferred recruitment agencies who respond to requests for staff with potential candidates and a cost quotation. All transactions are handled online and it means the HR or recruitment manager doesn't have to spend time calling and faxing agencies for quotes.
Many of those working in recruitment and HR balk at the idea of buying people services using the same principles and methods as for stationery and office furniture.
Jeremy Tipper, managing director of recruitment outsourcer Capital Consulting, fears it will make recruitment too price-driven, especially as some markets work rather like a reverse auction with the lowest bid most likely to win the day. He echoes the thoughts of many HR professionals when he says that "people simply can't be treated as a commodity", especially with the premium now placed on knowledge.
"As we become even more service-based, knowledge and people become the biggest differentiators of capital advantage," says Tipper. "Recruitment must be a high-touch process and can't be done through automation."
But potential time and cost savings will make it harder for HR to ignore such practices in the future, and pressure to adopt them is likely to come from the finance and procurement departments.