RPO Providers Forming Strategic Partnerships to Give Buyers Global Services with Local Expertise | Article
The universal complaint about human resources outsourcing in general and RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) in particular has been that few if any service providers have both a local and global reach. It has been difficult to provide best-of-breed services in every location on the globe an outsourcing buyer may need. “RPO buyers have searched for the mythical one-stop global solution for years,” says Elliot Clark, CEO of Shared Xpertise.
Now that is changing on the RPO front. Many of the service providers are forming strategic alliances with RPO service providers on other continents. The goal: to provide buyers with better candidates faster because of their deep contacts in and vast knowledge of specific local markets.
“For years outsourcing buyers wanted a global solution, but it was only a catch phrase for RPO service providers,” says Randy Gulian, CEO of allegistalent². “Today buyers can actually get a global solution.”
Sue Marks, CEO of Pinstripe, says successful recruiting is by definition local. Local may mean city to suburban, state to state, country to country or region to region. Partnerships such as her firm has with OchreHouse “give buyers the benefit of an integrated process, cultural fit, technology, and metrics coupled with local expertise and talent channels. Today there is a competitive race for top talent. Companies can’t hire the best talent if their service provider has a generic solution with no local ties and doesn’t know the local customs.”
“Global outsourcing buyers want a consistent candidate experience and uniform reporting from one global brand,” adds Bruce Morton, Executive Director of allegistalent². He says these buyers want consistency, “which is hard to get from a multiple of partners.”
U.S. RPO service providers that are leading this trend include allegistalent², Pinstripe and OchreHouse, and SourceRight Solutions and Hays plc, among others. Here is the story of how these alliances developed and what they can do for outsourcing buyers.
“Two years ago you could cobble together a solution with different providers in different regions,” says Gulian. “Buyers won’t accept that today. They want one provider, one message, and a standardized candidate experience.”
Talent² started in 2004 in Asia as a search firm and eventually it extended its services to RPO, becoming the first RPO in Asia Pac, according to Morton. “We noticed we were missing out on some local deals because the decision makers were elsewhere,” says Morton. He estimates 70 percent were in either the United States or the UK. “That got us thinking. We wanted to both protect our business and grow our market in Asia. We had to either grow our own or find a partner,” he recalls. “Allegis Group Services was the natural choice.” Allegis Group Services is the RPO and MSP division of the Allegis Group, one of the largest privately held recruitment firms in the world.
Allegis Group Services and Talent² had some global clients in common. And because Allegis Group Services had already built a relationship with Andrew Grant, the Managing Director on the Talent² side, they formed a partnership in 2010 to cover the globe.
In their first outing together, they bid for and won together possibly the largest multi-continent RPO deal bid out last year. It was an all- encompassing engagement for one of the largest financial services companies in the world. They formed the global implementation team with members from both Allegis Group Services and Talent² and deployed over 150 recruiters across the globe to manage the engagement.
“Our RPO business was pretty global already,” recalls Gulian, “but the obvious hole for us was APAC, so deciding to work with Talent² was easy. They are the 800-pound gorilla there. And we both wanted to further expand into Europe” he says.
Morton says allegistalent²’s “U.S. learnings” from their original deal helped the firm develop more global offerings. allegistalent² now has a central global project management office. Once it gets an assignment, it adds the requisite local nuances.
Pinstripe and OchreHouse
Marks says Pinstripe’s exclusive strategic partnership with OchreHouse allows them to “meet the global needs of companies that have varying numbers of openings in many different countries.” A typical engagement, she says, would be for a U.S midmarket company that has a large number of U.S. jobs to fill and then lower volumes in 15 different countries.
The executives of Pinstripe, which is based in Wisconsin, and OchreHouse, which is based in London, met at the HRO conference in New York in 2009. Marks says there was a cultural match; even better, their operating model was the same. The two decided to go to market together to meet buyers’ global needs. “We won our first deal shortly after we formalized the partnership. We continue to add clients who need a global recruiting footprint,” she says.
Pinstripe and OchreHouse have just added a third member to their partnership: Career International to cover China.
“Our clients (and we have several now) get the depth and breadth of our global and local knowledge,” says Marks. “We know the Americas, they know Europe, and our APAC partners know their regions. We know the talent challenges and, most importantly, where the talent pools are.”
She says mature outsourcing buyers already have centralized HR processes and technology. “They’ve already done the work on the core and know what’s important.” Now they want “worldwide reach with in-country expertise.”
SourceRight Solutions and Hays
Florida-based SourceRight Solutions formed its partnership with UK-based Hays plc last March. “It is increasingly important for companies to more narrowly define who they are trying to attract,” says Rebecca Callahan, SourceRight President. Alistair Cox, CEO of Hays, adds, “As markets around the world recover, multinational companies are increasingly looking for recruiting experts to help them find the quality people they need to build their business in every country in which they operate. Our decision to partner with SourceRight Solutions allows us to meet those needs.”
How the partnerships work
Gulian says the key to success in these strategic alliances is to be sure they don’t become “a marriage of convenience.” allegistalent² found embedding executives in each other’s companies helped both standardize processes and encourage business development. Morton, for example, has moved from Sydney, Australia, to Stamford, Connecticut, to work in the former Allegis Group Services office.
In addition, the RPO holds various client and functional group meeting every other week in a different part of the globe. Executives from both organizations attend.
Gulian says it also helps to know your partner well. “Andrew Grant and I tend to be aligned in our thinking and approach. Both of us were willing to mute our egos in talking about what was the better approach or outcome for the client. There have been no disagreements on our goals, and we have both learned from each other’s approaches to a particular issue. With us, a disagreement on approach lasts for five minutes. It’s resolved and the resulting solution is better than either of us could have fashioned by ourselves.”