Programme management and the decision to outsource
The workflows, speed, flexibility and quality assurance mechanisms of global mobility depend on the delivery mechanisms. Organisations obviously exercise their own choices with substantial variations in terms of whether they do the GM work entirely within their organisation or outsource some or all of it.
The data indicates that most multinationals have chosen to deliver all of the GM work in-house. Amongst those, the majority are highly centralised in their expatriate work in that it is managed globally and executed in one global HR service centre (53%). A further 24% have organised the GM work regionally and only a small minority (10%) are currently reviewing or planning to outsource some or all of their work in the future.
Where organisations have chosen to partially outsource activities, they indicated that the range and frequency of outsourcing of particular services is varied. Often, specialised knowledge in the areas of immigration, tax services, destination services and language instruction is hard to come by in-house which is one of the predominant reasons to use an external service provider. In turn, companies normally have good expertise to draw up compensation packages, create the overall assignment packages, draw up offer letters and do the contracting so these activities are rarely outsourced. Again, organisations seem to be reasonably content with their overall programme management structure in so far as 65% would not even consider moving to a fully outsourced model in the future.
A tenth of organisations had opted for a fully outsourced GM approach. The providers would frequently interact on a global level with internal HR professionals (60%) with only 10% having local level interactions. Only half of these organisations were happy with the fully outsourced model. Last year, the RES Forum asked its members to rate the outsourcing providers and there is no indication in this year’s comments that these ratings have changed.
Of those companies that had either partially or fully outsourced their GM services, the large majority used multiple vendors (71%) and only 17% focussed on one vendor. Multiple vendors were used because organisations wanted to retain control of the overall mobility programme (61%), because the expertise in-house was strong enough so that only some specialised vendor services were needed (61%), to improve assignee support (43%) and/or to ensure that maximal perceived cost savings were achieved (41%).
The issues of quality assurance and service delivery as well as good prices are obviously at the heart of the relationship with outside vendors. One of the in-house GM team’s responsibilities is therefore the management of the key performance indicators and overall quality of outsourcing providers.
In contrast to last year’s survey, this year’s survey suggests that it is more likely that mobility experts manage the organisation's service provider relationship. A third of local/regional mobility HR teams and a quarter of in-house global relocation vendor management teams are charged with this task. Managers outside the GM function, e.g. the in-house procurement team (17%), are much less likely to interact with mobility service vendors. In depth mobility understanding seems likely to enhance the HR staff’s ability to successfully negotiate and quality-assure outsourcing relationships.