Going global: the case for international RPO

international recruitment process outsourcing

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) works well in larger companies that recruit in high volume, so surely making it span many countries will multiply the potential cost savings and process efficiencies?

Not always. It may be unrealistic to expect that a process that works well in the UK will work well across every region. Technology may have broken down many communication barriers but different cultures will have different expectations of recruitment, not to mention different legal frameworks around employment.

There are examples of organisations that have opted to expand their RPO agreements across continents: manufacturing company Unilever signed a seven-year business process outsourcing deal with Accenture in 2006 and the US conglomerate GE has a multi-country deal with KellyOGC. The average length of multi-country RPO deals tends to be longer than with single-country contracts.

The advantages of global RPO can be:

  • Standardisation of processes.
  • Improved access to global talent.
  • Improved management control and insight.
  • Huge economies of scale.
  • Greater internal mobility – some regions may have a slow employment market while others are in need of skills, so why not draw on your global market of staff?

While the challenges can be:

  • Loss of control.
  • Cultural diversity issues, such as differences in communication styles and resistance to change.
  • One model will not fit all.

Success in global RPO deals hinge on the following:

  • Standardising processes but tailoring the model to the specific region. You could choose to bring back-office functions together but localise sourcing of candidates, for example.
  • Setting realistic expectations.
  • Using templates to quicken implementation, but with enough flexibility to incorporate regional changes.
  • Ensuring there is a pro-active change programme, effective communication at local level and buy-in from senior executives.


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