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angle-left Not sure where to begin when it comes to running a global contingent workforce programme? 


11th February 2019

As a Global Programme Director on one of our biggest Managed Service Programmes, just when I think I’ve seen it all, something else comes along and I find myself realising it's just another school day of working on a global MSP. Just last Wednesday I spent a total of six hours on the phone to five different countries on numerous contracts, new initiatives and improvements to our programmes that weren't even on my radar the day before. The difficulties that can arise when you expand your MSP globally are numerous, but it makes the reward that much sweeter when you work with some of the best in the business and you're continually driving change to help your customers achieve their strategic goals.

Best practice in global contingent workforce management programmes

Whether you’re about to dip your toe into the water of how to expand your contingent workforce programme or simply looking for peer to peer advice, here’s some of my top tips for best practice in running a global MSP. 

Plan your activities in advance

First off, I would suggest that planning all your activities well in advance and staying on top of all organisational needs is essential for the smooth running of any programme. It sounds obvious but do not underestimate the power of being organised. 

You'll need to adopt a flexible working day, as this will be critical for ensuring global coverage. Whilst you’ll have your local teams in region, there will inevitably be occasions where you and only you as lead will do. To cover the different time zones in the United States, European Union and UK, and APAC regions, some days will require an early start and a late finish, but for me this means I can take a break in the middle to see my daughter, picking her up from school and taking her to the park before diving back in for that call once she's in bed.

That said, it does not mean be there, always on, at all times. You have a team for a reason, trust them, train them and learn to delegate.

Ensure regular communications

Continual communication and relationship building is essential for global contingent workforce management, especially as for many of your stakeholders you simply won’t get the face time you’d like so you must work that little bit harder. 

You will probably need to utilise both video and voice communications to the fullest extent to ensure messages are relayed accurately. If you haven’t already listened to Matthew Dickason’s Podcast on leading international teams, he shares a great tip on how he ensures his global leadership team stay engaged on their virtual monthly meetings.

Learn all about business cultures as well as the market in the countries where you will be operating

It's a given that you’ll need to get to grips with all regional recruitment trends (you can read our latest global predictions for contingent workers in 2019 here) and be up to speed with relevant legislation in all countries you plan to operate. However, learning as much as possible about cultural differences is where the true value is. 

This can only be achieved by building a network for each country and making sure these nuances are communicated to any offshore or new outside of region recruiters. Of course, you need to have a good understanding of all legal and financial implications for the business: both internally and externally, but without understanding the culture you’ll not only miss the context, but you’ll set up processes that simply don’t work or aren’t followed.

It’s simple things like understanding in what countries it’s rude to disagree or say no, that make all the difference. We’ve seen some recruiters transition from one market to another left completely perplexed, when that great pipeline of candidates they talked to who all seemed interested in the job disappeared never to be seen again. All because they hadn’t picked up on the subtle clues that they wouldn’t actually be willing to relocate or be happy with that salary, it’s just they are from a country where saying no just isn’t the done thing.

Even if your usual company approach is a top down, centre out business, you can’t dictate change

You will be working within unfamiliar marketplaces, so it's important to listen to feedback and identify the improvements that can be made over the longer timeframe. Your stakeholders will not engage if you continually take an autocratic leadership role and are unprepared to involve them in the decision-making process. 

Using your key local stakeholders, or if you have them your VMS and MSP provider, as a local partner when you need to make effective changes within the overseas organisations, will ensure greater effectiveness.

As my colleague Ruth outlined in her how to get the most from your VMS blog, we try to take the 80 / 20 rule- if it works for 80% then go with it, but also be open to tweak up to 20% for local markets. Any more change and you’re in danger of comprising the global programme.

Use management reports and data from your MSP to make changes

And, finally, you should make good use of the global management information. Data will help you identify issues before they happen, and support you to make the right, informed decisions and actions that are needed to increase efficiency and improve communications. 

When it's done right, a global MSP can offer a variety of data insights, from where cost efficiencies can be achieved to how to improve hiring manager or candidate satisfaction.

All senior procurement professionals understand the vital importance of managing their indirect spend across the entire enterprise, and setting up a global workforce programme is just the first step.

It's far easier to align your procurement processes with the expansion plans of your business and introduce innovations and improvements using data and wins from another part of your business if you have a global view. So whilst it may mean some late nights and a few grey hairs, the experience and expertise you gain from a global contingent workforce programme cannot be beat. It’s just running one isn’t for the faint hearted.

Partner with Hays Talent Solutions

Setting up and operating a global contingent workforce management programme is much easier with a partner. If you’d like to discuss any of this in more detail don't hesitate to get in touch for more information. 

You might also enjoy my colleague Tina Millis’ blog on how to tell if it’s time you took your MSP global.


Patrick Mannall
Global Programme Director, Hays Talent Solutions

With over a decade of experience in the recruitment space Patrick is the Global Programme Director for one of our largest accounts. As part of the senior leadership team for the account Patrick supports the development of the global on-demand strategy. With particular expertise in the contract IT sector, Patrick is no stranger to the complexities of non-permanent staffing in candidate driven markets and can provide a wealth of practical advice on how to deal with the realities of ensuring a flexible pipeline of top talent, with particular expertise in on-boarding.