By Kamal Pathania, Head of Implementation, APAC

Transition. It’s a word that should be seen as a way by which people or organizations adapt to a new way of doing things. When it comes to transitions from one partner to another, it’s easy to become fixated on processes, not people. That’s why understanding the psychology of transition is as important as going through the act of change.

If you’re considering changing your recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) partner, here are some key considerations that will need to be addressed. These will help to bring people with you through the journey and ensure buy in from all stakeholders. It will mean that the RPO will remain efficient and ultimately be successful and your talent acquisition partner can hit the ground running from day one.

What’s in it for me? The balance between incumbent, incoming and third-party partners.

People are far more motivated when they believe that the task they’re undertaking benefits them personally or can help achieve their goals. That’s why when your organization moves from one RPO provider to another, the objectives, perspectives, and needs of various interest groups need to play a key role. So how do you use this knowledge to ensure not just participation, but genuine collaboration from all the key parties?

The current provider naturally feels demotivated. Inspire their involvement in the transition process by considering their business structure:

  • What geographies do they operate in?
  • What other products and services do they provide?
  • Are their additional services used elsewhere at the client’s organization?

That last one comes with a big incentive: the risk of future loss of business with the client can also be a motivating factor. Both RPOs will be working in the same industry – so there are personal reputational risks to not delivering a smooth handover.

Incoming service providers are delighted to become your talent acquisition partner and eager to start. This group should not underestimate the importance of vital information and knowledge that the current provider is holding, such as:

  • Existing relationships within the business
  • Cultural nuances
  • Team values
  • Working styles

These are all part of an informal working landscape that add value. It’s in the interest of the new RPO to start the transition by wearing a learning hat and walking a path of discovery. At this stage, they need to avoid jumping instantly into problem solving mode. Instead, they should concentrate on listening, information gathering and relationship building.

Often the change is driven by strategic decisions made by the management or a select group of stakeholders at the client’s organization, driven by performance, cost or alignment of organizational goals.

To get a broader understanding, conduct a deep dive into the perspective of the wider business. Well-defined, unbiased, open ‘Voice of the Customer’ research sessions with the client’s teams help in understanding the pain points of the business – but it is vital to appreciate what is already working well. A philosophy of “fix the problems while preserving the strengths” will help avoid change for change’s sake, as well as boosting engagement and buy-in from client teams.

The third-party partner is often overlooked during the transition process, but they play an important role in the value chain of the services an RPO provides. These suppliers often hold great relationships with both the business and the incumbent. Although they are often contractually neutral, they are also human – and may have close relationships within the exiting RPO. Take the time and consideration to get to know them for a smoother transition.

Communication. How to devise plans, processes and mindsets to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Transition is a three-way agreement between the client’s business, the incumbent, and the incoming provider. Create a transition plan agreed by all the parties at the start of the process. Ensure that you include a code of conduct, communication channels and agreed points of contact as well as information sharing and privacy policies while transferring data.

Remember, key messages can easily be lost in translation, not least because of organizational and cultural differences between the incumbent and the incoming provider. Keep language simple and set up a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle to make sure all the parties are following the transition plan.

The key is to establish trust and exercise influence by creating a culture of inclusiveness and collaboration – not just to rely on the contracts you’ve set up to guarantee a smooth process. Arrange ‘get-to-know you’ sessions with the incumbent so you understand their roles, capabilities, and how they can contribute to the transition program.

To increase willingness to collaborate with the incumbent, admit that you may not have the contextual information to serve the business needs. Show you value their input and advice

Finally, there is no better way of managing the transfer of information than donning a supervisor hat. List the ‘must have’ and ‘good to have’ features to cover as part of the transition and share it with the incumbent in advance. That means maintaining checklists, auditing information, adhering closely to the plan. Draw a clear RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consult, and Informed) matrix to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder involved.

In conclusion

For a smoother transition that minimizes the risk that key information is lost, consider the motivations of all parties involved. Develop a plan. Start with a process of stakeholder mapping and design a framework of knowledge transfer for each stakeholder group. This will enable you to build relationships with those that will be utilizing the solution and ensure buy-in early on. With a supervisor mindset, then add sufficient audits, checks & balances during the entire transition and knowledge transfer process.

Above all, it’s important to remember that giving the incumbent a positive exit experience will deliver the best results for the client’s business.