Three Key Pillars for a Bespoke Recruitment Strategy for FSP Partnerships
How skilled recruiters and a phased talent delivery approach are customizing and accelerating FSP projects.
Resourcing is one of the most critical services that a contract research organization (CRO) provides to its clients. For each trial, the partner team must rapidly recruit workers in sufficient numbers and with the correct skills to complete each segment of the project with agility and ease. If recruitment moves slowly or individuals with the wrong skills are selected, the clinical research process stalls, costing sponsors valuable time, money and resources.
So how can sponsors look ahead to understand which CRO has the capacity to deliver on their talent needs? It starts with selecting the right partnership model.
Selecting the Right Partnership Model
Clinical research outsourcing models have changed over time to accommodate the industry’s evolving needs. While there are many nuances to these approaches, CROs typically offer two broad models: functional service provider (FSP) partnerships and full-service outsourcing (FSO) engagements. Our 2023 industry trends report found that an increasing number of sponsors have begun to gravitate toward the FSP model, with respondents now saying FSP engagements represent 26% of their clinical work on average. Hybrid models that combine elements of FSP and FSO engagements are also growing in popularity, representing 23% of respondents’ outsourcing.
FSP and FSO models offer different advantages. FSOs offer the complete outsourcing of most — if not all — tasks for a clinical development project, reducing the client’s management burden. By comparison, FSP partnerships outsource individual functions, providing resource flexibility and access to specific expertise not readily available in-house.
FSP models enable clients to tune talent levels up and down based on research needs and market conditions. They also offer the possibility of leveraging FSP partners to scale projects or facilitate entry into global markets. Moreover, FSP models allow drug developers to outsource individual functional services to gain efficiency and flexibility. This frees up sponsors’ time to develop core competencies in-house and to rely on their partner CRO for specialized technical and scientific services.
In addition to these traditional models, the PPD clinical research business of Thermo Fisher Scientific has developed a bespoke talent delivery model for FSP engagements that combines the agility of the traditional FSP provider with the deep internal talent pool that is the hallmark of the FSO arrangement. The talent delivery strategy is built on a close partnership with sponsors to identify the specific employee phenotypes they need, yielding a highly targeted group of potential staff for sponsors to choose from.
Pillars for Success
While no two bespoke recruitment strategies are the same for clients of PPD® FSP solutions, the programs we create typically maximize three facets:
- Skilled and experienced industry recruiters
- A two-pronged approach to approach to talent delivery
- Customization and support for each client
1. Experienced and Empowered Recruiters
While it can feel overwhelming at first, identifying the best possible talent for specific types of positions in regions across the globe is more manageable and effective with the right team of empowered recruiters. A skilled talent acquisition team is essential for any bespoke recruitment strategy, allowing sponsors to assemble a new workforce with speed and confidence.
PPD FSP solutions recruiters undergo extensive training to identify the skills and characteristics needed by clients, operationalizing recruitment for cost and time efficiency. While recruiters can specialize in particular functions, each should also be capable of recruiting beyond this function to support on-demand surge staffing. PPD FSP solutions recruiters are armed with the latest tools and resources to maximize performance across all services. These technological resources keep our recruiters ahead of the market, while identifying and engaging talent within specific regional and local networks.
2. A Phased Talent Delivery Approach
Depending on the clinical research project that clients undertake, they will have different goals and staffing requirements. Every candidate for every position should have the skillset that makes them an ideal fit for the job.
PPD FSP solutions employ a bespoke talent delivery strategy for FSP partnerships that takes a two-pronged approach to staffing to efficiently hire the right people the first time around:
- Internal resourcing: Drawing on a wealth of internal staff with various skills, enabling the immediate deployment of well-vetted staff.
- External recruitment: Meeting the client’s additional needs, particularly for roles that require experience and competencies not currently provided by internal employees.
The way staff from these two pools are prioritized matters. On one hand, an internal team can be mobilized rapidly to fill gaps and ensure that a new project stays on schedule. On the other hand, new hires bring differentiated skills to the table, further optimizing the staff.
An ideal FSP provider should take an internal-first approach to staffing a new clinical research project, drawing on existing staff before hiring externally. Hiring from an internal pool provides fast access to a well-vetted workforce, especially in countries where clients do not currently have a footprint or geographies that entail long waiting periods before individuals can start work.
Even in the face of the ultracompetitive talent market, this approach makes it possible to provide highly sought-after talent, such as clinical research associates, in large numbers based on client needs. A large talent pool and an existing breadth of relevant experience enable an FSP provider to efficiently deploy a large swath of employees and train and onboard them to a new project in as little as a few weeks. Once in the system, internal candidates also bolster recruiting efforts by referring new hires that meet specific project needs.
PPD FSP solutions has access to more than 30,000 research professionals with proven skillsets ready for deployment to new clinical research trials worldwide. Staffing from this pool of internal personnel enables us to more quickly fill resource needs to deliver projects on time. At project kick-off, we provide up to 100% of internal staff to ensure fast ramping up of resources, while phasing in external hires to deliver sustained success.
External, Ahead-of-the-Curve Recruiting
Sometimes clients must acquire niche talent for specific positions, necessitating external recruitment. PPD FSP solutions’ proactive external recruiting methods bring in the best talent for each role. Although it may take more time and resources upfront, making meaningful connections with high-quality candidates builds trust and streamlines the process of filling positions down the line.
External candidates can be identified through various tools, including:
- A searchable candidate database: Pooling all known candidates together and allowing users to filter by certain attributes to identify personnel with specific skills and attributes.
- Combing through recruiting tools: Platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed can be instrumental in finding new candidates with the right skills and experience.
- Leveraging programmatic recruiting solutions: These tools offer services that actively identify talent channels to support recruiting needs and attract additional candidates.
- Examining historical data from job boards: These data can enable providers to identify individuals who entered their profession years ago and are now experienced leaders in the field.
- Referrals: Ideally, the best employees refer high-caliber individuals to join the company, even those who aren’t actively searching for a position. PPD FSP solutions tap into existing employees with great success. In 2022, referral networks sourced 38 percent of all external hires.
3. Optimization and Support from the FSP Provider
FSP strategies are truly partnerships between clients and CROs. A partner that fine-tunes its talent delivery approach to each client’s requirements enables staffing to move smoothly, and sponsors can be more confident in the workforce powering their clinical trials. CROs that employ a bespoke talent delivery strategy for FSP partnerships are better equipped to cater to the nuances of sponsor-specific needs for global talent, deliver strategy-optimized talent acquisition, and, as a result, accelerate sponsors’ research success.
A quality FSP partner will:
- Follow a step-by-step process to determine what internal staff it can rapidly deploy and what staff it must hire.
- Have well-equipped recruiters who take a personalized approach to outreach when attracting potential candidates.
- Only send through highly targeted candidates after a thorough vetting process, to conserve sponsors’ time.
- Implement an efficient process after an employee has been hired to ensure that new employees are fully onboarded and have a broad set of skills applicable to multiple project areas.