Do recruitment supplier panels add value or destroy it?

Strategic sourcing outfits love to set up recruitment supplier panels to minimise the number of vendors, and get the best terms, conditions and prices. This is an exercise in purchasing efficiency. But what you want is operational effectiveness.

NB This applies to consultants, contractors and vendors as well as employees.

The true measures of success (i.e. operational effectiveness) of recruitment are:

  • fit to need – can the person do the job?
  • speed of getting going – how long does it take them to contribute effectively
  • retention – that they stay and you don’t lose their knowledge and have to start again
  • their ability to grow as necessary.

These are not ‘panel’ delivered dimensions.

There appears to be a hierarchy of recruitment approaches –

  • ad hoc,
  • panel,
  • specialist,
  • search,
  • and reputation.

You’ll notice that on this model ‘panel’ is a low-grade option.

To get and retain the best people, you want people who have the right attributes and attitudes as well as the right skills and experience. Panels are fine for commodities perhaps, but for specialist roles, you want specialist organisations – and generalist firms are not specialists (even if they have ‘specialist’ departments).

In Conclusion

Your best approach is for your organisation to have a reputation as ‘the place to work’. You can then attract the best staff often directly with no recruitment costs.

But how do you generate a reputation as ‘the place to work’? That’s another whole story in itself.


Topics: Value Delivery, Value Equation, Project Governance

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Mar 2010) as "Do Recruitment Supplier Panels Add Value Or Destroy It?"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections