Corporate Culture Impact on RPO and Recruitment Services Vendor Management

Over the last month I have been conducting recruitment process assessments and benchmarking my findings with others. There seems to be a theme coming from the voice of the hiring manager (customer) exercises: “We expect good process, now please understand our business.  When you don’t understand our business, the candidates you present just don’t fit.”

The theme from the HR / Recruiting organization is: We are rebuilding our processes, transitioning new organizations due to M&A, doing more with less and are in need of a short term plan to stop the chaos and simultaneously build a longer term strategy.

The business wants alignment now; the HR organization is building and responding.  There is a natural gap between wants and what can be delivered, possibly resulting in frustration, work around behavior and greater escalation management. We have entered the perfect storm.  As part of the perfect storm the increase in need for Managed Services Programs and Recruitment Process Outsourcing solutions are seen as a mechanism to solve part of the need.  Yet if your organization is in the midst of this storm below are some good recommended vendor management practices when putting short and long term solutions in place.


1.  Prior to engaging a vendor identify: Culture, policies and conduct a voice of the customer.  Key outcomes are answers that address:  What will the provider need to know in order to be successful? What will I need to closely manage, so both parties are successful?

Leveraging these findings, create a vendor management strategy to include:

1.  Mission and Vision of Recruiting

2. How do vendors fit into this overall strategy? Short term and Long term?

3.  What changes exist within the organization around stakeholders, expectations, business
needs that an outsourced provider and a vendor management group will need to know?

4.  How can this break and with whom?  What is the impact if it breaks and what will you need
to do to mitigate major issues?

5.  What are the business triggers that can change the needs or services requested of the RPO
and MSP?  What role does the vendor management or HR leadership team need to monitor
to effectively collaborate with all stakeholders on the right solutions and expectations?

Vendor Management Framework

Based upon your answers the framework components will include:

1. Vendor  Utilization Policy,  Contracts T&C’s,  Approval Policy and SOP,  Search Firm Contracts, On boarding / Management / Off-boarding Vendors, Contract Negotiations, Candidate experience model,  Adding a vendor, vendor payment authorizations, vendor dispute resolution, tools, training, communications and preferred vendor registry.

2. Management reporting and presentation to stakeholder community with an associated RASIC chart.

MSP and RPO Providers:

As part of the solutioning effort, seek to understand culture, expectations and review policies.

Understand the business and educate your service delivery team. Transactional processing may not be enough.

If you have recruiters responsible for higher complexity roles, make sure they understand how those positions fit into the business or objectives being addressed. They need to manage the hiring managers not be subservient.

Dig deep on stakeholder management and a “one size” fits all report may not be enough.

Additional Observations

I thought it was worth mentioning other observations that would impact how vendors are managed when delivering people driven solutions.

When the culture is such that there is a huge disconnect between the business and the HR group, the permanent hiring team needs to work harder to fill positions. Time to fill or the cycles to fill requisitions tend to be longer.  There is a greater utilization of temporaries and search firms.  These sets of disparate activities create additional frustrations around candidate quality, retention and succession planning.

The perceived focus for many HR organizations and service providers is to follow the process versus understanding how the business runs and delivering services with the process as the skeleton and the services customized to meet the needs.

If full-time compensation is not competitive in core business areas, there may be an increase in  temporary labor and / or  time to fill or quality of hire is impacted.

If the corporate brand is in flux, and information found on is questionable people may see a job with the company as a stepping stone versus a destination.  The impact is turnover, commitment and whether a strong candidate is willing to work full time versus temporary.


Vendor management of outsourcing providers is more than just giving them work to deliver and managing Service Level Agreements.  It involves understanding the environment, how a vendor can be successful and a vendor management framework that supports the business needs.  Like everything else, good process is expected; it is the stakeholder and program management of this function that makes this a success.


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