How to Choose RPO Software

March 1st, 2010 by jpassen Leave a reply »

Managing an RPO isn’t easy. On the hook to monitor the activity of multiple recruiters, thousands of jobs, hundreds of hiring managers and hundreds of thousands of candidates, RPO’s operate in a complex environment facing huge challenges both internally and externally. Using applications like spreadsheets and email or worse, selecting just any recruiting software will severely limit an RPO’s performance, scalability and ability to retain customers. To ensure that your RPO is successful and continues to attract new customers while keeping your existing customers happy, you must leverage technology that is designed specifically for recruitment outsourcing.

Until very recently, finding a technology platform that’s specifically designed for outsourcing engagements has been difficult if not impossible. There are still few applications available today that are specifically designed for RPO’s. But there is good news. As the recruitment outsourcing market continues to become more sophisticated, demand for specialized RPO platofrms is increasing, and a handful of vendors are responding with modern technology to address the challenges faced by RPO’s.

A little advice to start

So, what should you be looking for? Here is a list of things that you need to consider and questions to ask when evaluating software for recruitment outsourcing.

My first piece of advice is to really focus on your “must have” features, the knockouts. Focus on what you really need right now, because as you expand and optimize your RPO business, your “nice to have’s” are going to change. For example, 5 years from now you almost certainly are not going to need fax integration (I hope you don’t need it right now)-this type of feature shouldn’t be a deal killer in your buying decision. It is always better to learn to walk before you try to run. And, remember, choosing any kind of business software is all about managing trade-offs.

My second piece of advice is that you take the time to see your “must have” features in action. This starts with a demo, but you should also move at least some of your recruiters on to this platform. Take full advantage of the free trial (most vendors should offer this, it’s 2010). Don’t use fake data and don’t just test the system for an hour here and there. Use it to manage a customer, or 2, or 10. If it fails at managing a small portion of your business, it will certainly fail at managing a large one. Remember, this will be the lynch pin of your business, your platform; don’t just take the salesperson’s word for it.

What Questions do you ask of your RPO software vendor?

Does this RPO software enhance our brand?

Selling an outsourced recruiting solutions is a hard. You’re truly selling the invisible. Before software, the buyers of recruitment outsourcing solutions had little more to go on than a sales pitch, an SLA and some promises. Today, with the right RPO software you can gain an incredible advantage during the sales process: proving that your solution is more complete, more modern and more efficient than competing solutions. Your software should enhance, not detract, from this message. Choose software that your stakeholder is going to be proud to roll out to their team, something that will make them look good. Make presenting your technology solution the buyer’s first win.

If I were an RPO customer, would I use this software?

No software platform is magic. Some users will love it. Some users won’t. But, choosing RPO software that increases your chances of getting more users will result in higher margins, and reduced customer turnover.

Obviously, every hour you spend training and every week you spend implementing RPO software is money from your bottom line. The harder your recruitment outsourcing software is to use, the less likely your clients will be to use it, and the more work you’ll have to do manually. Simply put, the easier your recruiting technology is to use, the less work your recruiters have to do, and the better your margins will be.

There are other benefits as well. The more users you get, the better off you’ll be as you’ll capture critical information that you’ll use to diagnose and solve problems. Solving minor problems before they become major headaches keeps customers happy. Pick the right technology and it will become the hardest working part of your solution. When you customer periodically evaluates other solutions, they’ll realize that you provide not only a valuable service but, a valuable technology.

Will this allow us to be more valuable than just the last resume we sent?

Unless you choose technology that allows you to show all of your work, your client will continue to judge you on one thing – the last resume your team sent. How else are customers going to feel any ownership of the service you’re providing them? Without the right technology, all the work that your team is doing, except for the last resume sent is invisible to them. If your customer just wanted resumes, they would have hired a contingent agency or signed up with another job board. When companies hire an RPO, they want hires and they want problems fixed. They want visibility and they demand accountability. Provide technology that you can build around, a platform that will enable all those best practices that you talked about in the sales meeting. Choose technology that will tackle the tactical and create the opportunity for your firm to be strategic.

Will your technology vendor continue to be innovative?

Ok, you’ve narrowed down your options, done the demos, set up some users and wrestled pricing information from the vendors. Now, you need to ask what the vendor has in store in the coming 6-12 months. What’s on their roadmap? Are they adding features just to add features, small things to win a customer here and there? Or, are they designing critical enhancements that will help you overcome your biggest challenges? Select a vendor that is constantly innovating and looking for ways to make your team more efficient. Select a vendor that has been on your side of the table, a firm that has employees that have actually worked in an RPO or at least a recruiting environment. They’ll provide the most innovative platforms, ones that work the way you work.

Finally, you’d probably expect that RPO software, the technology that’s going to power your business is going to cost a pretty penny and is going to be a major headache to implement. Not the case, it’s 2010. Thanks to new delivery methods and even newer business models, there’s technology available that you can set up in a matter of days and will be affordable and will scale as your business scales. So, get educated, ask the tough questions, kick some tires, do the demos and choose modern recruiting software that will accelerate the growth of your recruitment outsourcing practice and make your clients happy.

Note: I originally wrote this post for the Newton Software Blog at


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