The journey toward a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) partnership can take many routes, but it often starts here: a talent acquisition leader recognizes challenges within the organization that fall beyond the scope of the internal team. Perhaps they’re dealing with a decentralized recruiting process that doesn’t allow for consistent measurement of important metrics like time to fill and quality of hire. Or the administrative tasks involved with recruiting – assessing resumes, scheduling interviews, etc. – take time away from finding the best candidates.

Peter Greco headshot

Once they’ve decided that RPO is the solution, the talent leader then needs to get the rest of the organization on board. To walk us through that journey, we recently asked one of our clients – Peter Greco, Senior Director of Global Recruiting Services and Operations at Sanofi – to share his story. Sanofi, a global life sciences company, entered into a North America Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) partnership with Cielo in 2018.


Cielo: What were the main factors that prompted your organization to consider outsourcing recruitment?

PG: Before I was even hired and while learning about my role, it became clear that Sanofi wanted to transform its talent acquisition function. The company had identified several business reasons to go with RPO. One of them was that Sanofi was using contractors for recruiting, supported by an in-house leadership team. This made it difficult for the function to set goals, measure KPIs and hold the recruiters accountable to their performance. These individuals also were responsible for many steps in the recruiting process, ranging from interview scheduling to background check remediation, which impacted efficiency. We decided to implement a hybrid RPO model where we split the requisition volume between the Sanofi and Cielo recruiting teams. In addition, the Cielo team handles all the administrative tasks like interview coordination and onboarding, which allows our recruiters to focus on attracting and securing the best talent in the market.

Cielo: How did you go about building trust/buy-in from stakeholders to get them on board with RPO?

PG: Our mission was simple: Adapt a consultative, scalable model that provides value to the business in terms of better service and is backed by strong operational metrics and KPIs. The business already was paying for TA services via a chargeback model, however it was a flat rate billing model. Our ambition was to create a new model that made billing more equitable, so fees are reflective of the level of role. This made the change management easier and the messaging was simply: If you fill a lower-level role, you shouldn’t get charged the same as when you fill a higher-level role. Some roles have different levels of complexity and require a different caliber of recruiter, so we’d assign harder-to-fill roles to more-experienced recruiters who knew the space very well. The issue of cost from a change management perspective was easily mitigated with this approach and billing structure. That made for a pretty convincing argument, saying to our stakeholders, “We’re charging you x right now, and we’re revamping the entire model to make it scalable, to make it consultative, adaptable, and to provide you best-in-class metrics, service and support.”

Cielo: How has the reality of outsourcing compared with your expectations?

PG: With something new, we know it’s not going to be 100% perfect on day one, but the expectation is that it’s getting us in the right direction. We know it’ll be a work in progress, and we’re seeing really good signs. Hiring manager satisfaction is improving and is in line with our internal benchmark and expectations. We had a great success story early on with the ramp-up for our launch of Dupixent. In just a couple months, we were able to fill 103 roles and get the whole team up and running. That’s a key growth area for our company, so the fact that we showed speed and scale for such a high-profile project was a case of the results speaking for themselves. We even received a personal note of congratulations from one of our executive vice presidents, which was really gratifying. It’s these cases that amplify our business case for success.

Cielo: What are three highlights of your partnership so far?

PG: Standardization has been a big one, making it so that everyone operates in a similar manner. We’ve eliminated so much of the, “Well, we do things this way in this business” or “We do things that way in that business.” If there’s a spike in one business vertical, we can strategically take one person from one vertical and move them into the next, and we don’t have to worry about how the work is done. They know how to do it because it’s standardized and streamlined.

Another highlight is that our metrics have earned us a seat at the table with our stakeholders. We currently meet with them quarterly or as needed to provide an update. We show them numbers and metrics and tell a story about how we impact our partners. Knowing our metrics lets us be more nimble and make data-driven decisions. It also lets us identify root causes of issues and address them. We couldn’t do that efficiently two years ago.

Lastly, the ability to specialize and segment our functions makes a very big difference. Recruiters recruit, sourcers source and our support team takes care of the administrative items. That just speaks volumes to how the model is set up where you have a team of 60-plus individuals performing various tasks that allow Sanofi to fill more than 2,000 roles in North America. Yes, recruiting is about attracting and selecting the best talent, but there’s a million and one other things that go into it. We’ve been able to segment that out and assign those tasks to the right people so that this “machine” can run a lot more smoothly with the right people doing the right jobs.

Cielo: What would you say to other organizations who are considering outsourcing?

PG: I think you begin with the structure. Centralized or decentralized? Do you want to align by business, or do you want to align by vertical? There are pros and cons to each, but I think that’s a key question that needs to be answered.

Also, do you want to outsource a single function, or do you want to outsource everything? Do you want to maintain an in-house team or employ a “hybrid model”? If you want to keep an in-house team, define those roles and what you want them to do. Make sure that you adequately scope out the solution with the partner you ultimately choose.

Other things that you probably want to consider are, from a digital perspective, what technologies do you currently leverage, and whether you want to go after partners who offer best-in-class technology, or would you rather have the partner leverage the technology you currently have, like your interview scheduling system or ATS.


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