Saturday, December 26, 2009

Making the Offshore Recruitment Process Work

The Million Dollar Question “What make offshore Recruitment Process Outsourcing (oRPO) work?” has a relatively simple answer: Communication!!

Its 5:00 AM in the morning and my colleague, Yusuf wakes up to the tune of his mobile ringing. Bob, the recruiter on the other side has an urgent assignment that he needs assistance with sourcing. Yusuf still in his sleep asks for 15 minutes to call back. On the call, he takes the requirement, makes notes, and puts the sourcing strategy together. He sends a call summary to Bob copying the sourcer in when he gets back to the office and briefs the sourcer about the requirement. Yusuf manages the search and by the time Bob is back in his office, he has good quality resumes in his Inbox/ATS/Database

Alternatively, Bob drops in an email for the sourcer to have a look at when he comes into work. The sourcer will then get back to Bob with any questions and obtain any clarifications when he is available. The sourcer will in the meanwhile continue working on the assignment.

Once the email reaches Bob, he responds with answers to the questions, confirm the search criterion, and/or change it as per his requirement. The sourcer will then work on the changed criterion and send across matching results.

An inconvenient, but appropriate phone call saved a lot of time and frustration for the sourcer, the manager and the client.

Offshore recruitment process outsourcing has its own challenges, none that can’t be overcome.

For a successful oRPO, it is important that they acquire and disseminate the sourcing skills and knowledge within the organisation, hire the right personality types, keep them motivated, have appropriate infrastructure and a host of other things. All elements are equally important and can’t be done away with. Communication stands out as the most vital, due to the offshore nature of the model. In most cases communication will make or break an oRPO engagement.

There are various factors that contribute to keeping the communication clear of distortions

1. Medium of communication (audible, readable; no disturbances/distortions in the channel)
2. Clarity of thought (Know what you want to communicate)
3. Clarity of Communication (Converting thoughts into meaningful speech/text for the audience)
4. Regularity of Communication (Frequency of communication)
5. Proximity (Physical distance)

The oRPO communication Grid illustrates the situations that may arise due to these factors.

Depending on the regularity of communication and physical distance between each other your oRPO engagement will fall in either of 4 situations.


1) Black hole
These are oRPO engagements which are most likely to fail. The offshore providers don’t have any sort of onsite presence and do not utilise available communication mediums to interact. They may not have prior agreement on any communication system or may fail to follow it. They are not aware as to what’s happening on the other side. Feedback and reporting are completely ignored. Good grounds to breed suspicion and mistrust. The other side of the coin is that the client team does not consider the outsourcing engagement positively or favourably and tend to neglect providing the necessary feedback, which is absolutely essential. This happens when everyone on the team has not bought into the concept.

2) Strangers
These are unlikely oRPO engagements. It is quite rare that inspite of proximity, there will be low regularity. This situation may arise if needs are not properly understood and the parties have not been able to get a rapport going. Clarity of thought and communication or rather the lack of it will be another set of contributors to such a situation

3) Professional
These are efficient oRPO engagements. They will be process and SLA driven and will work towards doing their bit as efficiently as possible. The parties will mostly restrict to long distance but efficient means of communication. It is amazing how your work can speak for your self. Needs will be communicated in clear terms and Feedback will be quick. They may or may not have onsite presence. Most of these engagements will graduate towards a handshake. Frequent visits are conducted by both parties to bridge the offshore gap.

4) Handshake
These will be the most successful oRPO engagements. They will have a substantial onsite presence and tend to develop a friendly relationship. Frequent onsite and offsite visits will be conducted. A dedicated oRPO point of contact will be present onsite and liaison with the operations. This physical presence leads to a better understanding and empathy between the parties. There is more awareness of what actually happens at the other side of the wall, how your assignment or results for the same is being treated. Scheduling, prioritising and managing the execution of the project becomes more seamless. Reaction time and relationships in these engagements sets them apart from others and makes them more successful.

Handshakes are the ideal recipe for an oRPO. Some may argue that this takes away the offshore element; the more complex the service gets the more there will be a need for a handshake

In his presentation at ERA’s 4th Annual Convention on 23rd March 2007 - Mumbai Regan George (CEO OS2i) talks about an oRPO model. He calls it GDRPO (Globally distributed recruitment process outsourcing). It looks to move an oRPO towards the handshake stage.

oRPO’s will have different gradients and mix of the above situation. It would be rare to have complete strangers, black holes, professionals or Handshakes all the time. The same oRPO may have different situations with different clients. Depending on the service and need of the client, the people involved, transition time different situations will arise.

Emails, Chats, Phone calls, Skype conversations, Applicant tracking systems are preferred means of communication. A detailed sourcing form, flexibility of calling time, prompt response, clear feedback, periodic reviews, work schedule, prioritising assignments, and others system can be used to ensure a smooth and precise flow of communication.

Laying down communication processes, systems and enforcing them helps but doesn’t solve the purpose. Empathy between the offshore sourcing team and the recruiters on the strengths and challenges faced on both sides is critical to creating a successful partnership!


Coresourcing

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