The war for talent continues to grow daily. In a global economy facing the threat of recession, acquiring and managing talent are two of the biggest HR challenges faced by organizations today. The key question many companies are considering is - is finding the right talent, quickly, best put in the hands of outside specialists, or should recruitment be managed in-house?

Firms need to assess how effectively they handle recruitment, then decide whether it might be worth outsourcing all or part of these activities – typically for a more competitive rate for recruitment without any service degradation.

Companies need to understand their own requirements before deciding whether to turn to RPO. If recruitment is a big part of their intellectual property, then they might not want to outsource it, and if they have a distinct set of values and behavior, then they either need to find a similar outsourcing company or keep recruitment in-house.

Compared with such commonly outsourced HR functions as payroll administration, RPO is relatively new. The market for it is growing quickly, however, and is already thought to be worth about £280m in the UK. But RPO, as a developing concept, can mean different things to different companies.

Many large organizations already use RPO, and research shows that the benefits in terms of cost and time savings can be high. Client companies, according to outsourcing specialists, can expect to save 20%-30% on the cost of hiring and 35%-50% on the time taken to recruit.
Leaps in service quality have also been made, thanks to rapid advances in IT.

Current recruitment technology falls roughly into three categories:

1) Recruitment manager systems, which manage the hiring process.
2) Service management systems, which track agreements and monitor performance indicators.
3) Web-enabled systems, which allow companies to sift through candidates more efficiently and build their brands at the same time.

Many of the initial stages of the recruitment process can be performed online via automated systems, from screening CVs to arranging interviews and carrying out psychometric tests. The advantage of the web is that it’s 24/7 – people can log on whenever it is suitable for them. They can then work in a calm environment to do psychometric testing - and via the web you can have selection criteria input, set specific questions, filter who gets through to the next stage and eliminate ones who can’t progress if they don’t have the right qualifications.

Advances in IT offer other benefits, too. Technology is increasingly being used to deal with compliance issues, such as proof of a person’s work permit. Now you can do it all online by creating a data warehouse, with criminal record checks, for example. Candidates can check their information and there is a much better audit trail, so it is easier for all parties to identify gaps and problems. Technology has its limits - It can reduce the the admin burden and speed up the time to hire recruits, but it is not going to work unless you have got the right people in place to operate it. There has to be a good relationship, which is then underpinned by technology.