Congratulations! You are taking the RPO plunge. You’ve done your due diligence and signed an agreement to use an RPO provider for talent acquisition. Now what? If you are like most Talent leaders who have gone this far on RPO, you are anxious to hand over all your open requisitions and let your new RPO provider get to it.
But hold on! When kicking off a new relationship with an RPO provider, the key to success is a robust implementation process. When done properly, the time and resources invested will pay back in spades. But if you fail to implement the new process thoughtfully, you’ll get off to a rough start and experience the ire of disappointed hiring managers, HR Business Partners, and candidates while leaving your new RPO provider in a tough position—behind the recruitment eight ball from the start.
But it all starts with defining the scope of the implementation, and the first question is always, “how long will implementation take?” Of course, it varies by client and depends on the complexity of the implementation, but it usually requires 6-12 weeks. Complexity is determined by items such as:
- Goals for the RPO implementation
- Whether or not your company already has an RPO in place
- Number of locations and the level of variation in processes across those locations
- Existing systems in use, especially the ATS (Applicant Tracking System)
- Current recruiting success levels
As a former Human Resources leader at large and mid-size companies responsible for talent acquisition, I’ve learned there are three keys to success for implementation and the on-going RPO projects: trust, partnership, and shared ownership of the implementation process.
Trust: You’ll be sharing sensitive recruitment metrics, and your partner will be sharing their recruiting “secret sauce” with your team. Trust on both sides is required when sharing sensitive information of this nature.
Partnership: Your new partner is responsible for delivering on the agreed recruitment KPIs, but don’t forget, you have a vested interest in their success. So anything you can do to help your new provider succeed will be helpful to both.
Shared ownership: Working with an RPO provider takes effort from both the client organization and the service provider. Even if you’ve fully outsourced recruitment responsibilities, you’ll still have some work to do. Your new RPO provider needs an internal advocate to help troubleshoot problems, facilitate on-going information exchanges, and mediate conflicts with an unbiased approach.
Trust, partnership, and ownership on both sides combined to yield a committed team required to help a budding RPO relationship successfully grow.
At Personify, we work hard to create and deliver these keys to success from the very beginning of every implementation process. We bring a team of experts from recruiting, client services (who handle interview and onboarding logistics), and recruitment marketing to every implementation to work closely and collaboratively with partners to define the processes and outcomes required for success.
Personify has honed a QuickStart methodology to map the recruiting and onboarding processes and identify key performance indicators and service level agreements. For clients who have decided to use recruitment marketing services, we conduct a kick-off to review your EVP (Employment Value Proposition) and the marketing assets available to get the word out into the relevant labor markets about your company.
We have found it helpful to include client marketing teams because they need to be confident your new RPO partner will accurately represent your brand. The marketing team often shares vital assets such as brand guidelines, social media content, videos, and other branded collateral for use in the recruitment process. Finally, we work with you to establish baseline metrics from historical data for comparison purposes and identify post-implementation problem areas to give us a head start on solutioning them.
We’ve also learned that change management is crucial to implementation, and we can help you with that. An internal Sponsor should be assigned from the client organization. This person is critical to the implementation’s success and needs to apply resources and consequences to ensure success. Key stakeholders need to be identified, including (but not limited to) HR, existing recruiters, the marketing team, and hiring managers. Their concerns need to be heard and addressed, and realistic expectations must be set. It also helps to have a communication plan to address concerns and closely manage all parties’ expectations.
In general, you can expect four phases of change. Different people or groups may be in each phase at different times, and progress is not always linear. However, as a whole, you can expect implementation to proceed according to this rough phasing:
- Introduction/Awareness—during this phase, it is essential to ensure people understand the reasons for the change and agree to proceed. Your organization’s Sponsor often plays a major role.
- Initial implementation—the key to this phase is learning quickly and optimizing processes and relationships based on those learnings. All issues, big and small, need to be brought forward to be addressed in this phase and beyond.
- Gaining Stability—this phase usually begins about 4-6 weeks after Initial Implementation. You can expect to see frustration with the progress being made, especially if expectations were not set appropriately. This phase will test the partnership, trust, and shared ownership developed in the previous phases. The Sponsor often plays a significant role in successfully navigating the issues that arise.
- Continuous Improvement—this phase is reached when the process is known and repeatable, and relationships have been built between key organization stakeholders and the RPO. The on-going target of this phase is its name—continuous improvement.
As with any transition, there will be bumps in the road, but a thoughtful and rigorous implementation process like Personify’s eliminates many of the bumps and smooths those that remain. Like any team sport, a successful RPO implementation takes trust, partnership, and shared ownership, but the rewards of winning are well-worth the hard work it takes to get there.
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