One Program, Different Countries

Men looking at globeThe world of solutions design fluctuates between the aspiration of “I want one program,” and the old adage, “We can’t do it this way because we are different.”  In a recent presentation at an HR technology conference, panels discussed the deployment of both a global technology and workforce outsourcing solution. Instead of dipping into the intricacies of incorporating country-based differences in the real world, discussions focused on the aspirational aspects. The audience took notes and one brave soul asked the million dollar question,“How did you work through X… in country X?” Another asked,“How long did it take to deploy X solution?” The panel stuttered, pontificated and provided a “glossy” answer to quickly move to the next topic.

Audience members who had implemented a multi-country solution were disappointed that the focus of the panel discussions were on the spirit of having one program but not on the work it took to actually get there. Meanwhile, those who were new to multi-country deployments probably walked out of that seminar thinking, naively, that it would be easy to deploy their U.S. solution all over the world.

The reality is things are different as you move across the globe. Yet the aspiration of one program, whether it is recruitment outsourcing, HR technology or managed services programs, remains the objective no matter where you go. The real answer to the questions posed by that earnest audience of conference attendees is this: your objective can be achieved, but how it gets accomplished will vary country by country.

As someone who is responsible for designing global workforce solutions, it is difficult to know everything about every country, yet our clients expect us (and need us) to be the experts. They expect us to understand that “their country is different.” For that reason, our team approaches every challenge with a sense of inquisitiveness and the willingness to conduct research. I have compiled a few areas that in each country need to be researched, documented and mitigation plans identified or addressed. By understanding the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, differences countries use to employ workers within their borders, you can begin to drive towards your ultimate goal of delivering ONE workforce solution.

  1. Word definitions
  2. Employment law
    1. Drug & background screening
    2. Working time regulations
    3. Employment contracts, terms and conditions
  3. Works councils
  4. Collective labor agreements (CBA)
  5. Benefits
  6. Tenure
  7. Pension
  8. Data privacy
  9. Subcontracting legality
  10. Auditing of suppliers
  11. Candidate sourcing practices
  12. Recruitment policies and practices
  13. Legal assignment lengths
  14. Cultural implications

My focus is driving our client’s toward the power of one solution — the right solution for their specific needs. The path to accomplishing this goal is one that goes beyond aspirational abstractions and requires careful consideration and includes involving stakeholders from each country. Successful design and deployment of a multi-country RPO or MSP/VMS solution is driven by willingness to learn from others, partnered with courage and conviction to clearly manage expectations to accomplish the program desired.

Tracey Friend
As vice president of solutions architecture at Agile-1, Tracey Friend has more than 20 years of experience in the recruitment industry covering MSP and RPO Solutions. She can be reached at tfriend (at) agile1 (dot) com.

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