Change Management for RPO Engagements

by Carrie Kolar

Change Management for RPO EngagementsRecruitment process outsourcing (RPO) engagements by definition involve change for the client organization or company. In this article, based on Recruitment Process Outsourcing Association’s webinar RPO Implementation: Laying the Ground Work For Success given by Ryan Baca, the vice president of About Talent and Heather McGotty, director of Human Resources at Welch’s, we investigate how to handle change management for RPO engagements.

RPO implementation plans spend a great deal of time and energy on tangible decisions, like what technology to use and which resources should be allocated where. However, as Ryan Baca of About Talent says, “over the course of a hundred RPO implementations, we’ve determined that the soft stuff really is the hard stuff.” There is usually little to no methodology for the human interaction in RPO implementation, but it is the human piece that makes or breaks the success of an RPO solution. Introducing an RPO solution into a company upends the usual way of doing things, and unless the change is carefully managed, it can end up alienating people who need to support the RPO implementation, jeopardizing its success.
Related Reading: How Do You Get Leadership Support for an RPO Engagement

About Talent has a change management system that they use during RPO implementation to ensure that the interpersonal aspect of the process goes smoothly. This system involves five steps that go from pre-RPO vendor selection through the execution of the RPO solution. These steps are 1) defining the sponsorship model, 2) conducting a stakeholder analysis, 3) planning communication, 4) delivering training, and 5) Activation, which in turn depends on commitment, understanding, and awareness on the part of every party involved to make the partnership a success.

The sponsorship model definition and stakeholder analysis can be considered part of an overall involvement plan for the RPO implementation, which is an essential tool for change management on the client’s part. Determining who needs to be involved with the project and at what level allows the client to determine who has the authority and resources to drive and support the projects, and determining who needs to be involved and at what level broadens the ownership of the RPO implementation and ensures that every person affected by the RPO solution will have a role to play in its success. Once these players and their roles have been determined, constant effort needs to be put forth to effectively communicate the goals, needs, and processes for implementation. This communication needs to happen internally within the client company and between the client and the RPO vendor. A part of this communication plan also needs to involve training the players within the client company about their roles and the upcoming changes that come with an RPO partnership. If a company expects their employees to act and interact in a certain way, they need to train those employees to respond in that manner.

When discussing her company’s experience with RPO implementation, Heather McGotty of Welch’s pointed out that the size of her organization had a role in the ease of change management. She said that “we’re lucky we’re a fairly small organization,” and that “I had a pretty easy go of it to ask people to trust and go along the journey with us.” The relative ease of managing change during an RPO solution implementation can depend on a number of factors, including organization size, cultural resistance or responsiveness to change, and vendor-client responsiveness. However, there are some steps that vendors and clients can take to assist the change management process. Emphasizing cultural alignment with the service provider and building in a problem resolution system can make adjustment easier, as does including questions about how well the client manages change during the RFP process and discovery sessions. If expectations are set at the beginning and a process is put in place to manage issues as they arise, companies and vendors have a greater chance of finding success in their RPO partnerships.

Learn how to lay the ground work for a successful RPO implementation.



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