Event: NY HR Week
When: April 16-17, 2008
Where: Hilton New York
What: For its second year in a row, NY HR Week was split into three simultaneous conferences—although different ones this year. This year instead of an HR Management Solutions Track, there was an HR in Healthcare. The other two tracks were HRO World, for the outsourcing providers, consultants and buyers; and HR & EEO in the Federal Workplace Conference, for HR managers in the public sector.
Conference info: For information, go towww.nyhrweek.com.
Day 2—Thursday. April 17
RPO for Real? While there has been quite a lot of buzz around recruitment process outsourcing over the past several months, it seems that many buyers at the conference aren’t sure what all the fuss is about.
During the last eight years, recruitment has been the most popular HR process to have been brought back in-house, Mark Hodges, chairman of EquaTerra, a Houston-based sourcing advisor, told attendees Thursday morning. But the reason that this has happened isn’t because companies don’t want to outsource some aspects of their recruiting, Hodges said. What has happened is that many HR BPO buyers initially had RPO within the scope of their contracts, but have since realized that they would prefer an RPO specialist to do the job, he said.
A few years ago many of the HR BPO providers were touting their RPO offerings, but most of them aren’t anymore, said Stan Lepeak, managing director of research with EquaTerra, in an interview.
That’s because providers such as Hewitt Associates have realized that they are better off focusing on their core competencies. "We still offer recruitment administration in some cases, but RPO is a tough business," said Jay Rising, president of HRO at Hewitt.
The trend toward working with specialized RPO providers hasn’t deterred all employers, however.
Avon, which took RPO out of scope when it signed its HR BPO deal with IBM in 2006, may come back to the provider at some point about adding RPO to contract, said Kathy Kostrzewa, vice president of global HR service delivery.
"We simply don’t have enough supply management expertise to take on another relationship," she said.
Day 1—Wednesday, April 16
Set expectations: A lot of HRO buyers and vendors are realizing that executing HR business process outsourcing deals is a lot more difficult than they had anticipated, speakers and attendees said.
"This takes a lot of time and energy," said Nicolette Sayward, director of global HR operations at Whirlpool, which signed a global 12-year HR BPO contract with Convergys in 2005.
Sayward admitted that her team underestimated the amount of time it would take to have the HR processes up and running through Convergys. "We thought we could do a big-bang approach with the U.S. and four other countries," she said in an interview at the conference.
Her advice to companies entering HR BPO agreements: "Never give a date for implementation."
In her presentation Wednesday morning, consultant Naomi Bloom warned employers not to enter HR BPO agreements unless they have a staff of HR managers who can dedicate a significant amount of time to the deal. "Even if you have an advisor, you need to have someone in-house who is completely involved with this," she told attendees.
A number of companies, such as Starbucks and UBS, have backed away from HR BPO deals for this very reason, experts said.
"The word is out that this isn’t easy," said Linda Merritt, who retired last year as director of HR outsourcing at AT&T. "It can be viable, but it takes a lot of work."