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null How to get the most from your VMS


It's no secret that your Vendor Management System (VMS) is crucial to the effective management of your contingent workforce. It enables you to make informed decisions thanks to increased visibility. You can also automate processes, and enforce best practices and policies for efficiency. But how do you get the most from your VMS?

We chaired a series of roundtable discussions on that topic, at Staffing Industry Analyst’s EU Contingent Workforce Summit. Attendees ranged from people who were investigating the business case for VMS to those who had successfully- or not so successfully- implemented a VMS across many countries. They shared some great learns with us, which we have distilled down to three top tips on how you can get the most from your VMS:

1. Focus on user adoption-does it make lives easier?

Whether you are implementing your Vendor Management System for the first time or are looking to improve your current processes, the key is meeting your users’ needs. There will always be some resistance to the adoption of a new system and a new process. But if the benefits to users (speed of response, transparency of rates, simplification of timesheet approval and billing) are outweighed by a complicated process and a clunky user experience, chances are your people will find ways not to use it. It needs to be a system that is easy for people to learn (and relearn), and that makes sense for how your business is structured. It also needs to make sense to them - if they can't see the benefits of it easily, they'll lack the motivation to use it.

When you are selecting which VMS to use or considering changes it’s essential to involve all key stakeholders. This could include your IT department, finance team, senior management teams, HR teams and hiring managers. They will need to explore core functionality. They’ll assess whether this fits with their existing systems, processes and requirements, and if they can understand it. If you operate across many countries you’ll need to consider the extent to which your VMS can handle local complexities and legislative requirements. In the event that your business has many global representatives, it will be important to get a view from all these locations involved.

Whilst involving all your stakeholders is important, you need to be wary of the ‘too many cooks’ issue holding up or seriously compromising decision making. This is where you need to be able to maintain a clear line of sight to your end goal. Have a small number of key objectives for your VMS that are locked down, regardless of business unit or geographical specifics. Disagreements at every stage are guaranteed- you know departments who developed their own ‘unique’ timesheet approvals process? You’ll discover hundreds of them! But this is the purpose of VMS, it’s not simply a software installation. It’s an enterprise wide change management programme to simplify and unify procurement processes. It's here that the 80/20 principle comes into play. If it’s working for the 80% then you are doing well.

2. Road-map your workforce strategy

What is the long term vision for your contingent workforce? Do you have a roadmap? Have you consulted your VMS provider to understand their roadmap to ensure you’re heading in the same direction? Factors to consider include:

  • Geographical expansion of your programme: can your VMS truly handle the local legislation specifics of the new countries? What is the solution for capturing spend in clusters of countries with low volumes?
  • New service lines: FMS, SoW; what are the true capabilities? Can you track negotiations, materials and hours on milestones based projects? Can you measure planned and earned value at each stage of the project?
  • New integrations: how does it link into news systems you might be exploring? Such as talent pooling tools, mobile time tracking software, finance or document management systems.

In all cases challenge the best practice of your VMS. Invest in time exploring the possibilities, processes and limitations in detail. Building your workforce strategy with the possibilities of your technology in mind will save time and effort in the long term. Your VMS can also inspire you to new possibilities and ways of working.

3. Keep it simple

Often a VMS ‘failure to launch’ can arise because companies try to do too much too soon. End to end full integration of a new system is more complicated than you might think. This can lead to delays, over complications and system faults. Which will drive down user adoption (see point 1). Especially for first-time implementations, it's key to focus on the essentials. Keep the number and the complexity of system integrations simple and build on them later. Speaking to my colleagues and contacts post event, Joseph Marsh SVP of Hays’ proprietary VMS provider 3Story Software said: ‘Engaging with your VMS provider is crucial – “speed of implementation” is important to them as well, so they should be able to identify the quick-win opportunities for you. Their experience can be invaluable to overcome the minor implementation obstacles.’

No matter where you're at with your Vendor Management System, it’s important to periodically take a step back and examine what your VMS is achieving. By knowing your long term goals, understand your VMS’s ability, revisiting your core objectives and avoid getting caught up in over complications, you can ensure you receive all the advantages of a VMS.

It's time to start getting the most out of your VMS.


Ruth Munday
Director Corporate Accounts - EMEA, Hays Talent Solutions

With an Honours degree in modern languages from the University of Liverpool in the UK, Ruth has built a career working with organisations across Europe to help find solutions to a range of workforce related challenges.

Starting out in a traditional staffing agency operational role she built up teams in the UK and France, where she supported Hays’ fledgling business, now its fourth largest globally. Ruth then moved into executive search for several years, working in the public and private sectors, UK, international and cross border.

The constant theme was supporting organisations through change, either through the introduction of talent to an executive or non-executive board from a different sector, or facilitating the opening of a new business stream or new country. Since 2011 Ruth’s role has focused on the development of our outsourcing business in Europe, Hays Talent Solutions, which has given her a deep understanding of MSP, RPO and technology solutions in Europe. She now works with clients and with internal teams across the region, establishing an understanding of client needs and positioning Hays Talent Solutions’ operations to be able to effectively deliver to those needs.