HR Outsourcing Helps Kodak Get Hiring in Focus

Ann All

In the midst of what most folks describe as a talent shortage, it's not surprising that many companies are choosing to outsource their human resources functions to specialists to help locate the right hires and bring them on board.


One company that has done so is Eastman Kodak. Elizabeth Petro, its director of talent acquisition and strategy development, discussed the company's experience at the Outsourcing Institute RoadShow in Chicago, hosted by the Baker & McKenzie law firm, which I attended earlier this week.


Kodak employs 27,000 people, 53 percent of them in the U.S. It had already supplemented its internal HR function with outside providers, says Petro, largely because internal folks focused so closely on cost control during several years of downsizing that they "forgot how to hire." After conducting a detailed examination of its hiring process flow, Kodak realized it had too many service providers, with too many hand-offs between them. And it was failing to meet its time-to-fill and diversity metrics. Kodak decided to centralize hiring under its shared services organization and began looking for a single supplier that could handle its needs.


On its short list of criteria: It wanted a provider that could provide end-to-end HR capabilities, from sourcing to on-boarding, preferably one that could provide both permanent and contingent hires. The provider had to be global in scope, financially stable, possess compliance expertise, include an IT solution as part of its offering, and be able to help Kodak meet its diversity objectives.


Kodak made its decision in an impressively short time frame, launching an RFP early last July and selecting an HR outsourcing provider in less than two months. Why the aggressive time line? Contracts with its existing suppliers were expiring, says Petro. While you can let an RFP "go on and on and on," she says, it's better to streamline the process by spending plenty of time defining what you want before ever issuing the RFP.


Assisted by the Outsourcing Institute, Kodak started with a list of 50 potential candidates, which it whittled down to seven and then to four. The four contenders gave presentations to Kodak in late August. After selecting two finalists, Kodak conducted site visits, checked client references and performed other due diligence. It announced its choice, Pinstripe, in September. Implementation got under way in October, and Pinstripe took over Kodak's HR functions on Jan. 1.


Kodak's hiring process is now simpler and involves far less paper than in the past, says Petro. It is attracting more candidates with the right kind of experience. A key metric: It more than doubled its hiring volume during Q1 . Still on the company's to-do list: creating a new and more positive hiring brand, developing employee orientation and referral programs, and hiring in new areas, including Europe.


The brave Petro agreed to have much of Kodak's vendor selection process videotaped. Though I made a premature exit to catch a flight, and thus didn't see the entire video, I did view a 2-minute preview aired during Petro's presentation. The soundtrack and film editing are obviously designed to build maximum tension -- someone involved in the project has seen a few too many movie trailers -- but I suspect the actual process included its share of dramatic moments. Though companies have gotten pretty good at outsourcing, there will probably always be enough uncertainty involved to make it an inherently dramatic process.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 5, 2008 8:04 AM Chris Gebert Chris Gebert  says:
I'm not sure why you would write a pro-outsourcing article in this economic environment. There is no talent shortage. That is an idea that is being pushed by Bill Gates. This is only serving to lower the average developer wage and make jobs more scarce. Please be conciderate of those try to earn a living. Reply
May 6, 2008 9:25 AM Eric Boson Eric Boson  says:
I believe outsourcing some IT competencies can be very efficient. It enables the in-house IT organization to focus on the company's core business. HR is one of the domains that can easily be outsource. This being said, the in-house IT organization must keep the control over the project, but the roles should spread differently. The lower value tasks can be outsourced but the higher ones should remain in-house. This is the only way to stay on top of things. Reply
May 6, 2008 11:20 AM Dian Schaffhauser Dian Schaffhauser  says:
Thanks for the write-up, Ann. While I didn't attend the Chicago event, I'm certainly familiar with the Kodak initiative through the early "reality show" videos made of the process by The Outsourcing Institute. What I find interesting about the project is that frequently in a shared services story, outsourcing is something that the company wants to avoid. So this is an interesting application of service consolidation -- doing it so that the work with an external service provider can be made more efficient.-- Dian SchaffhauserThe Outsourcing Institutehttp://www.outsourcingintelligencenetwork.com Reply
May 6, 2008 7:51 PM Anne Nimke Anne Nimke  says:
Recruitment Process Outsourcing is a set of services that assist organizations in creating a high performing recruitment department that is both effective in mobilizing all the most creative recruitment marketing strategies, the strongest recruitment talent and state of the art technology and processes. It is a solution where the RPO provider becomes the "employment department" for a company while the employment strategy and hiring decisions are retained by the client. Its results often reduce costs, improve the quality of employees hired and increase both candidate and hiring manager satisfaction. It has nothing to do with driving compensation down and everything to do with helping organizations achieve their business goals through acquiring and retaining the best talent. With today's and tomorrow's demographic and economical environment - talent is critical and actually a company's only sustainable competitive advantage. Recruitment Process Outsourcing builds and drives that advantage for its clients and works to match individuals with talent to choice employers. Reply
Jan 7, 2009 2:56 PM B. Jones B. Jones  says:
In my experience, outsourcing can be an effective tool when trying to stay economically sound in today's world. I agree with the above comment that there is no shortage of quality people available at this time - however, there is a shortage of funds to pay for a team of quality people. I have used a PEO to help cut cost while it allowed me to stop focusing on internal HR hassles and instead focus on acquiring more business. Reply
Feb 23, 2009 10:55 AM SBL SBL  says:

Outsourcing will reduce cost and increase quality....




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