Procuring an RPO within Life Sciences

The global Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) market was valued at US$ 6098.9 million in 2021 and is expected to expand, reaching US$ 8959.65 million by 2027. Once confined mainly to large life science multinationals, there has been a recent explosion in demand for RPO solutions across small to midsized companies including entrepreneurial new start-ups in innovative areas from gene therapy to biotech.

Why? Because the economies of scale have changed, thanks in no small part to advances in RPO technology. Where once, you would need to be recruiting 200 new hires per annum for RPO to genuinely produce a good return on investment, that number has now shrunk to 10.

So what should procurement leaders be looking for in an RPO (or Direct Sourcing) supplier within the Life Sciences arena? And what steps should be taken in the selection process to ensure a successful relationship?

  1. Get involved early in the process, and ensure clear communication, agreed objectives and real buy-in from all stakeholders

Procurement teams have a vital role to play in selecting the correct RPO partner, from identifying key players, to managing the process efficiently and performing complex cost analysis. But working closely with internal stakeholders including IT, Operations, Talent Acquisition and Human Resources is vital, to ensure you build a shared vision for that selection process. Measuring and selecting suppliers on universally agreed objectives and criterion is key.

Although RPOs can and should bring direct cost-savings, there are also other key measures of success, including the ability to attract scarce talent, and deliver the personal that can drive key business objectives. A clear understanding of the process and its objectives on the part of all internal stakeholders, and your potential suppliers will meet with the best results. 

  1. Key things to look for in an RPO supplier

  • Industry expertise The field of Life Sciences is a highly technical and specialized one. Does your RPO supplier have the in-depth understanding of your specific sector area, and the credibility to communicate persuasively with candidates?
  • Flexibility and scalability Suppliers need to show they have the processes and talent in place to adapt swiftly to rapidly changing business imperatives,. Whether that be the need for a rapid expansion in manufacturing capability for a newly approved drug to R&D talent to push forward with gene or cell therapy breakthroughs, or the capacity to rapidly attract key talent after a demerger.
  • Access to Hiring technology  Do they have the technology to drive down costs and increase efficiency, and how will this technology interact with your existing systems? At Skills Alliance, our ongoing investment into new technology and systems means you can be sure you are always benefiting from the latest refinements.
  • Ability to deliver exceptional candidate experience including expertise in building a strong employer brand, with compelling and consistent messaging. Does the supplier have strong processes in place to ensure regular candidate communications throughout the recruitment process, from attraction to onboarding?
  • Enhanced reporting capabilities based on your specific hiring goals with the ability to measure and track what is important to you – not just generic ‘one size fits all’ metrics.
  • Access to industry data and analytics that can help inform and shape your strategic decision making.
  • Look for a strategic partner An RPO partner can play a vital role in developing future-focused sustainable talent acquisition strategies and practices. Look for a partner who can offer long-term strategic vision, as well as solve immediate, short-term problems.
  1. Ensure your RPO supplier has an understanding of the geographies you operate in

If you’re operating in more than one geographical area, it’s important to understand each RPO supplier’s geographical reach. Can they operate a hub and spoke model across all the relevant territories? Do they have access to recruiters who are fluent in the key languages needed, and are they knowledgeable about unique cultural considerations, and important legal differences in everything from recruitment law to key local Drug Board information? 

  1. Consider timings

The procurement process shouldn’t be rushed – as it’s a false economy not to fully explore the capabilities of your potential suppliers. Similarly the best suppliers will want to do their due diligence too, to ensure they are well matched for your needs, and can develop a successful partnership with you. When the procurement process allows for a clear understanding of capabilities and objectives on both sides, this will ensure that the RPO solution can hit the ground from day one.

Insights page
It has come to our attention that clients and candidates are being contacted by individuals fraudulently impersonating Skills Alliance representatives. If you receive a suspicious message, please DO NOT click on any links or attachments. We will never ask for bank/card details through phone calls. Our recruitment services are provided to candidates free of charge. If you are asked to make a payment, it is NOT a legitimate request from Skills Alliance. If you receive any communication claiming to be from Skills Alliance and are uncertain about its authenticity, please contact us directly.