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Is multi-local the new global in the 21st century?
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Outsource magazine: thought-leadership and outsourcing strategy | March 4, 2015

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Is multi-local the new global in the 21st century?

Is multi-local the new global in the 21st century?
Outsource Magazine

It has been fascinating to work in the rapidly growing resourcing outsourcing industry over the last few years. Along with many other BPO and professional services organisations supporting large global corporations we have been closely following the trend for such businesses to move from local and multi-national to globally integrated enterprises (you can’t help but love IBM).

From a resourcing perspective I agree on the movement to this integrated enterprise. After all there’s no denying that a global perspective on resourcing helps organisations create efficiencies and added value such as:

  • Common values and hiring philosophy
  • Best practice being shared across countries and regions
  • Consistent platform and tools
  • Compliance, control and management information
  • Maximising access to global talent pools

However, what I don’t agree with is that some organisations seem to be trying to create resourcing models and partner with RPO firms in the same way as they look at IT and ITO. That is, on a global level with a one-size-fits-all approach, and where it is all about scale, cost and efficiencies supported by an operating model with large nearshore or offshore recruitment centres. In my view this simply won’t work in resourcing the products we are talking about are knowledge workers and they certainly don’t behave in the same, consistent way across the world.

You will be kidding yourself if you think you can have the same approach to talent attraction or engagement in the US as in, for example, Germany or Japan, because of the impact of local cultural influences. Also, there are many complexities around local legislation and regulations such as workers’ councils and data protection laws and  I would consequently wish any company the very best of luck from a compliance perspective should they attempt to adopt a “one-size-fits-all” global resourcing approach.

I have met with a number of leading organisations over the last few months and whereas 18-24 months ago the talk was all about providers having a global footprint, the more enlightened are beginning to realise that deep local knowledge and expertise are essential to any resourcing model you build. However, too many think they will have to sacrifice the global approach and its benefits, as there is no one global RPO provider that can offer that. But, our experience is that you can get the best of both worlds with local expertise combined with global governance. Ochre House can point to several global customer success stories working with Pinstripe, our local strategic partner in the US, and other local partners in APAC but at the same time providing global consistency.

The key is to combine adaptation to individual geographical markets with a common, consistent approach to those things that should be regarded as ‘universal’ – the criteria that are non-negotiable wherever hiring is undertaken. Into this category will fall such things as buy-in to the company’s business and social philosophy, its basic standards and its commitment to diversity and work/life balance. And we tend to believe this combination of local and international is not a stop-gap or a compromise while we wait for some completely global hiring platform to be devised. Perhaps the most effective solution to the international talent sourcing model is not in the pipeline – it may have already arrived. What do you think?

About the Author

Helena Parry is the Director of Market Development at Ochre House.