Posts Tagged ‘SHL’

Psychometric Juggernaut: SHL & Previsor Merge

Tuesday, January 18th, 2011


In the last few days, it’s been announced that two of the world’s well-known psychometric publishers, SHL and Previsor, have merged. Many people in the psych test world have been asking what this merger will mean for the market.

Previsor is a USA based psych assessment publisher and SHL is UK based. In Australia, SHL has a high profile, and provides assessments for a substantial part of the Australian market, particularly the mass testing kind that is used by department stores and fast-food chains. Previsor, on the other hand, seems to have a much smaller market share in Australia, which is possibly related to Australia’s general reluctance to accept many things American.*

I am by no means a business or financial analyst, but I imagine that the effect of this merger on the Australian scene will be very minimal, since Previsor will take on the SHL name, and I suppose that there will be very little change in the way SHL assessment is presented and provided. World-wide, it will mean that SHL will now have a much greater exposure in America, but I don’t imagine that SHL will change it’s presentation or tests significantly or at all, under the influence of a Previsor relationship.

While both SHL & Previsor should benefit from an increased profile, they will also be subject to the increasing bureaucratic challenges that arise from large, juggernaut-like companies the world over.

It’s my understanding that both these testing systems, like nearly all others in the world, are offered primarily online. Their attraction to clients seems to have been that they have been seen to be quick and easy, and that, because they appear to offer to take care of the whole process, there is little for adminstrators of the tests to have to do. This style of testing suits some organisations very well, and though it can lack flexibility and control of the process, and  the data, it is a price they seem happy to pay for perceived simplicity. However, it can also result in a mass testing situation in which very little discernment is involved.

Announcing the SHL/PreVisor merger and the effect it will have on the American market on his blog–New-Global-Leader-in-the-Assessment-Market.aspx, Josh Bersin from Bersin & Associates wrote as part of his assessment of the current psychometric situation, ” …only 25% of companies have any well defined job competencies for each particular role. This means they are buying ‘off the shelf’ assessments for many positions where they have not necessarily tailored the assessment for the competencies they need.”

It seems to me that any proliferation of huge psychometric companies, with a “one-size-fits-all” range of tests and assessments, combined with a possible tendency for large organisations to mass test large numbers with “off the shelf” assessments, will add to the concern that Mr Bersin expresses.

It is well-known in Australia that in our own organisation our preference using GeneSys is for a more boutique or bespoke-style psych assessment approach, where the range of tests chosen are carefully tailored, with expert advise from Organisational Psychologists, to the particular needs of the organisation and the roles they need to fill or develop. GeneSys’ UK-based publisher, Psytech International has a locally based philosophy (Global Leaders in Local Assessment Solutions) that sees psychometric assessment delivered around the world by carefully chosen distributors who are local, and who have an intimate knowledge of, and a strong relationship with, their local business and organisational environments. Its a model we are proud of, and believe is probably fairly unique, but more importantly it ensures a very sound, reliable and objective assessment process.

We wish SHL & Previsor very well with the merger. Apart from a flurry of interest by other psychometric publishers and providers however, I see very little change for the world of psychometric testing in the short term, and am hopeful that in the long-term it won’t lead to a reduction of flexibility, control and individual relevance for psychometric users across the world.

* The Simpsons, Coca-Cola and some areas of youth culture are obvious exceptions

Lynette Jensen

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* This is a personal view and does not necessarily represent the opinion, belief or policy of the company. More posts below.