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Implementing a Managed Service Programme: Common MSP challenges and solutions

A Managed Service Programme (MSP) offers a lot of benefits. But, there can also be plenty of challenges to navigate. Read on to find out what we’ve learned over the years as a global MSP provider.

Key insights into successful MSP implementation

An MSP offers companies and hiring managers effective central management tools to simplify their recruitment process. In a single system, users can find the right talent, standardise processes and introduce best practices.

However, there are numerous common pitfalls when implementing an MSP solution. To gain the benefits of a managed service provider programme, you’ll need to consider:

  • The best way to transfer or import data to your new programme.
  • Who will need to use the MSP system and what your communication strategy will look like.
  • Which stakeholders you should involve and bring into the programme to ensure success.
  • A clear distinction between what’s in scope and out of scope for your new manager service provider.


How to overcome Managed Service Programme challenges

At Hays, we're leaders in the global MSP market, working with clients across many industries and regions. Based on experience of countless projects, we know what it takes to implement your MSP successfully.
Once you choose the right solutions provider for your business, the implementation process begins. However, working to ensure that all vendors, suppliers, clients, and workers are on the same page can be a challenge.
Here are some of our key learnings that will help to ensure your MSP implementation is successful.
Common challenges and pitfalls in MSP implementation
Not taking time to reflect on your MSP strategy
When you have spent 6-12 months running a competitive tender process, it can be tempting to dive straight in. However, finding the right provider to meet your business provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on what comes next.
Whatever you do, don’t start running before you can walk. The reason implementations go wrong is often due to a lack of planning and governance. Or, there are simply not enough allocated heads to help manage such a complex and ever-changing process.
Not considering how you will transfer recruitment data into your MSP
The first question, when it comes to transferring data into your MSP programme, is if there is a program already in place. Working with a current programme involves transferring an existing population of workers and vendors. The transfer can be time consuming, but it's usually a cleaner process than building an entirely new system. Transferring from one MSP to another will require no change in technology.
On the contrary, building a new MSP requires a lot of thought. Finding a contact in data analytics or IT can help with producing outputs of the various systems. These contacts are critical to arranging the supplier information and the general stakeholders of the programme.
Not having a clear communication plan
A well-defined contingent worker procurement process is crucial to your change management structure. A clear workflow will underpin the overall success of your MSP. A lot of time and expense goes into customising an implementation programme for each client.
There are many stakeholders to consider when mapping out a communication strategy. Each of these stakeholder groups will have different needs within the programme.
Before you implement an MSP, you’ll need to consider the needs of:
  • Internal communications (for the MSP team).
  • Users of the programme (hiring managers).
  • Staffing suppliers.
  • The actual workers themselves.
Hiring managers need to understand how to engage a contingent worker – to explain where to go and what to do. The staffing providers need to understand how they can get access to requisitions and how rate cards work. Details like these rely on the MSP. Meanwhile, workers themselves need unambiguous communication on how to enter time and expenses and where to go for problems.
In some instances, clients won’t allow a proactive communication flow between staffing suppliers and hiring managers. This closed-off approach regularly causes problems. Implementing frequent and relevant communication “gates” with all constituents will foster more consistent dialogue.

Not understanding the importance of allocating a Programme Champion

A lack of governance or engaged stakeholders can cause many contingent workforce programmes to fail. Your team must have the authority and the will to enforce the use of the new programme. Stakeholder buy-in across the organisation is essential when establishing your MSP processes. The best programmes have sponsors who actively evangelise the benefits of the programme for hiring managers, workers, and suppliers. If people start to circumvent the programme, it will become very difficult to manage. The best time to mitigate so-called ‘rogue spend’ (or the process of circumventing the MSP) is before a programme goes live.
Not identifying the 'Stage Gates' and how they help combat 'Rogue Spend' 
Implementing ‘stage gates’ will help ensure people can’t procure contingent workers without going through the programme. These gates become security measures, ensuring that no one can engage workers outside of the programme.
You can use ‘accounts payable’ to monitor any misuse of the system. You can’t set up a new vendor unless it has approval through the programme. Plus, you can’t pay a vendor that’s not going through the programme as an approved supplier.
You can also implement ‘stage gates’ through IT lockdowns. Most larger companies require a worker record that grants system access and physical access to the building.
Another ‘stage gate’ is when only the MSP team can enter the non-employer in the contingent labour category. No one else shares this level of access. Introducing these limits prevent the individual from being able to attain physical access, IT security access and application access. Even if the employer is trying to force the worker on site, they have no practical way of being able to work.
Not managing expectations for the MSP programme
It is vital to establish the elements that are in scope and out of scope for your MSP. This is especially important when it comes to the exceptions and rules of a programme. By creating a defined escalation process, you can be clear on how and when to make exceptions.
Make it clear what type of workers go through the programme. The rules should state who to exclude, based on how the company wants to structure their MSP.
A governance board and a robust change control process are good control factors. With these processes in place, the initial bid will require final sign off on what the project scope is on the front end.
If a stakeholder asks for a different solution, you can go back through the formal process for a change control sign off.

Building an MSP solution: Next steps for your organisation

Implementing a new MSP solution is a big undertaking for everyone involved. It's essential that you maintain a clear line of communication from the beginning all the way through to launch – and beyond.
Following our advice will help guide you through the implementation process and ensure your company finds the best talent.
If you’re interested in building or managing an MSP programme, explore our MSP service offerings. Or speak to a member of the Enterprises Solutions at Hays team near you.

Learn more about MSP implementation:



Patrick Mannall
Senior Service Delivery Director
Patrick is one of our most experience Service Delivery Directors, with 18 years' experience in designing, implementing multi-country talent and contingent workforce strategies for enterprise clients. With a proven track record of managing outsourced services for global clinets across multiple geographies and industries, he partners with some of our largest multi-country customers, supporting a portfolio of clients across 24 countries.