Seven key questions to ask before choosing an RPO provider

The first thing any organisation should do before embarking on discussions with suppliers about recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is to look at its current processes. What works well? What could work better if you had more resources? Are there any areas in which the organisation lacks expertise?

Since most organisations going into RPO deals tend to be recruiting several thousand staff members per year, their main focus should be that the service is first, scalable, and second, measurable. Ask suppliers for examples of how they have met peaks in recruitment activity for other organisations.

But while references from other organisations may assuage any concerns about whether or not the supplier can cope with the workload, these organisations will have very different requirements to your own. You might get a better feel for which providers can best meet your needs by meeting with as many as possible, getting them to know your processes and potential areas for efficiency, and then comparing solutions.

Long-term RPO contracts that encompass a large number of recruitment functions (and other HR or business processes) often go out to competitive tender, but this is not always the case.

Peter Collis, managing director of  RPO provider Elemense, advises HR professionals to narrow down their shortlist to as few suppliers as possible: “Have a really detailed discussion with one or two of them, perhaps under a non-disclosure agreement, to figure out what it is they can deliver for your business. Try to look beyond the transaction costs to what value they can add. It’s a strategic, service relationship, so you need to find someone you can work with.”

To help decide if a particular RPO provider is right for  your business, ask yourself these seven key questions:

  • Can they manage recruitment processes end-to-end (if this is what you are looking for)?
  • Do they have experience in your industry sector? Or do they have relationships with niche agencies for specialist roles?
  • What technology platforms have they worked with and will they work with for your organisation?
  • Are they able to cope with any specialist compliance requirements (certain sectors have specific referencing requirements, for example)
  • Do you want them on-site? Some organisations opt to have an outsourced resourcing team on site in the early stages of the relationship so they can retain control, but move it offsite or to a shared services arrangement as it matures.
  • Do they understand your employee value proposition, or can they help you to articulate it?
  • What additional services do they provide, for example outplacement, psychometric testing or assessment centres? Do you need any of these? What will these cost? 













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