Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) and Managed Service Providers (MSP) both aim to improve the efficiency of your company in relieving the complications of managing the company’s resourcing needs. But what do these two terms mean and what is the difference between RPO and MSP? 


What is Recruitment Process Outsourcing? 

RPO is when a company chooses to transfer all or part of its recruitment process to an external provider, such as Omni. That RPO provider can take control of areas such as candidate sourcing, candidate screening and candidate onboarding, or alternatively provide you with a full end-to-end solution. In order to achieve the best results possible, they will fully embed themselves within your HR or Talent teams, taking onboard the brand values and culture. The candidate themselves won’t see any difference. RPO can easily be scaled up and down or used for projects only, ensuring that a company doesn’t waste resources during slower points of the year. 


What is a Managed Services Provider? 

MSP offer a similar end-to-end recruitment proposition but focus entirely on contingent workers. This term includes temporaries, consultants, contractors, freelancers, Statement of Works (SoW) and other non-permanent staff who work for a company. An MSP will take over the management of this contingent workforce focusing on cost management, process efficiencies and ensuring that the company remains compliant in its treatment of such workers whilst staying true to the values of the brand. Workers may be supplied by a network of different agencies but all will go through the MSP who acts as the liaison and supply chain manager. 

Both RPO providers and MSPs can dramatically reduce the amount of time you waste managing a recruitment process, giving you more time to focus on other aspects of the business that rely on your input to succeed. 

Now that you’re up to speed, let’s take a look at the differences between RPO and MSP. 

What are the differences between RPO and MSP? 


Type Of Workforce 

The most obvious difference between a RPO and an MSP is the type of worker they supply to a company. RPO providers solely focus on finding the ideal long-term permanent employee who is going to make a real difference to your company, whereas an MSP will find you the perfect talent to fulfil a temporary need. 


Source of Workers 

An MSP sources temporary workers for a company by working conjunction with third parties. Using a Vendor Management System (VMS), they may both source directly for suitable candidates and reach out to an established network of staffing agencies with their criteria. From the options presented back you will select the individuals they wish to hire ultimately consolidating supply and invoicing. 

In contrast, an RPO provider will source a slate of candidates themselves. To do so, they will use a multitude of different methods including a search of their pre-existing database, social media and extensive industry contacts. As well as engaging active applicants, an RPO provider will also contact individuals who they have identified as having the necessary experience and skills to succeed in the role, even if they aren’t actively looking for a new job. They keep track of all their potential candidates using Applicant Tracking System (ATS), such as Omni’s Appellia recruitment technology.  



As many parts of our lives become digitised and automated, recruitment is no different. Providers draw from a tech stack that may cover Sourcing, D&I, Candidate Engagement, Vetting & Assessment and Market & Business intelligence. 

There are distinct differences in the tracking software that an MSP may use with a Vendor Management System (VMS), which automates all supplier activity, including compliance and costs, whereas an RPO tracks the recruitment process through an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), such as Omni’s Appellia recruitment technology. 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, supply chain issues and the cost-of-living crisis, pressures on the labour market that are unprecedented. With a severe lack of candidates, the need for an organisation to promote its brand and EVP attract both temporary and permanent workers has hugely increased.  


Find out more about Resource in Motion, resource management for an agile workforce, here.