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angle-left Supplier Partner Enablement: Empowering staffing suppliers to deliver value in your MSP program


12th February 2019

In an earlier article we presented an overview of the innovative Talent Forward methodology, which is the Hays Talent Solutions approach to managing MSP programs which deliver the best talent, at the right time and place, for a fair cost – regardless of source or worker classification. This unique strategy recognizes that the world of work has fundamentally changed – and that most traditional contingent workforce MSP programs are ineffective and failing to deliver on their original promise.

Today we’ll expand on the first building block of a Talent Forward program: Supplier Partner Enablement. It is the mechanism for companies to work effectively with their talent suppliers, and build a client-of-choice reputation in the marketplace.

The Problem - MSP v1.0 is Broken and Inefficient

Talent Forward was born from the observation that many legacy MSP programs have atrophied to point where there is almost an adversarial relationship between the staffing suppliers and the program team – with the unfortunate outcome that the client is no longer getting the talent they need.

In these programs, the MSP exhibits a classic command and control mentality, acting as the gatekeeper between the client and its staffing supply chain, hiding behind a figurative brick wall. While some client stakeholders appreciate the “one throat to choke” aspect of an MSP buffering the business from the suppliers, this outdated approach often leaves much to be desired in terms of program performance, and talent attraction/retention.

With increasing frequency Hays Talent Solutions is being asked by new clients to re-envision a stagnant workforce management program. In these situations it is not uncommon for our program teams to hear staffing supplier complaints about what is not working in the program we’ve inherited. Here are some real-life examples:

  • We have no access to hiring managers. Even though they are the ones creating the job requisitions, we can’t ask them questions.
  • Instead of coaching for improved performance, we receive negative scorecard marks and punitive repercussions in terms of tiering or access to new worker requisitions.
  • Rate cards are unrealistic and not benchmarked to the local talent market
  • We get no feedback on submittals – it often feels like we are aiming in the dark.
  • We have to follow a cumbersome process, inflexible program policy results in lost talent
  • Suppliers are not rewarded for going the extra mile
  • We have no transparency or insight to the business, or its upcoming needs. Without visibility it is impossible for us to source proactively or build a talent pool.
  • QBR’s have been reduced to “scorecard” sessions, where the suppliers are beat-down for not following process or meeting arbitrary performance metrics.

Many old school MSPs look at staffing agencies through a narrow lens, viewing them as tactical body shops with the sole purpose of filling job requisitions as quickly and cheaply as possible. In a dynamic marketplace where talent has many choices, this approach is outdated, inefficient, and often fails to deliver the best talent to the client.

The Vision - There Must Be a Better Way

In reality, the talent supply chain plays a very important role in the success of the client organization by quickly finding, screening, and engaging much-needed workers. Recognizing that staffing suppliers should be treated like a strategic and trusted partner in the success of every client program, we call them Supplier Partners.

When implementing a Talent Forward program our objective as the MSP is to enable client organizations to engage the best talent from the best supplier partners – always seeking to deliver the right talent at the right time for a fair price, regardless of worker classification or source.

While most traditional programs focus exclusively on controlling the supply chain, we focus on enabling our client managers and supplier partners to connect effectively and efficiently.

How Does it Happen? A Framework for Supplier Partner Engagement

With the experience of running over 120 MSP programs across the globe, Hays Talent Solutions has developed a comprehensive 6-stage supplier partner engagement framework:

This proven framework enables us to tailor and optimize the talent supply chain for each unique client situation, building partnerships with staffing supplier partners who are motivated to deliver the best talent, at the right time and place. The Talent Forward MSP should actively work with those supplier partners who are doing a good job, to coach them into even better performance and the opportunity to earn more business.

Key Learnings on Supplier Partner Engagement

Operating a successful enterprise MSP program in today’s talent environment is a complex undertaking, with many elements that need to come together at once. Here are a few key learnings on Supplier Partner Engagement we’ve gained from our client programs:

  • Our role as MSP is to protect the client and ensure program objectives are met. A key element of this is to remove roadblocks that prevent the talent supply chain from being effective.
  • An important function of the MSP is to educate – Teaching managers and Supplier Partners how the program works, their roles in the procurement cycle, offering talent market insights to the client, etc.
  • It is vital to foster open, honest, and transparent communication between company hiring managers and Supplier Partners providing them with talent
  • Supplier partners don’t operate well in a vacuum – they need regular program updates to understand both their own performance but also the client’s evolving requirements
  • The MSP is the advocate for Supplier Partners. The best suppliers should be actively coached on how to grow their business.
  • To do their jobs Supplier Partners need detailed and descriptive job descriptions, and must receive prompt and actionable feedback from hiring managers on the candidates they submit to open requisitions.
  • Performance is best managed with a carrot (the opportunity for Supplier Partner growth) not a stick (scorecard reviews with punitive repercussions)

Conclusion – The Benefits of Supplier Partner Engagement

Because we think about the world of work differently, we are also strategically positioned to deliver a unique, and extremely powerful, MSP solution to our clients. We call this our Talent Forward methodology, and Supplier Partner Engagement is an important component. It creates:

  • Supplier partners who are informed, excited, engaged and committed to the success of our clients.
  • Open communication and transparent processes, both of which are essential ingredients for a successful program.
  • High performing supplier partners, who are encouraged and supported to gain more business.

The key to the success of any MSP/RPO is the ability to find the right talent. In our experience the most effective MSP is enabling, not controlling – creating an environment where supplier partners are measured and rewarded on delivering the best talent to the client.

Contingent workers come in many stripes, but in today’s era of talent scarcity they have many options and most often choose to work for clients (and in MSP programs) where they are treated fairly, paid market rates, and can engage with a low-hassle factor. The best suppliers, and the talent they recruit, will go to programs that are managed in a more enlightened and talent-friendly way.

Is your company a client-of-choice for the best talent suppliers?

NOTE: This article is part of a series which will explore key elements of the Talent Forward MSP strategy, along with key insights and best practices from the workforce management experts at Hays Talent Solutions.

Kimball Norup

SVP, Head of growth at Hays Talent Solutions- Americas

With nearly two decades of experience in the human capital management industry. Kimball has experience in structural engineering, publishing entrepreneur, and running a successful strategy consulting firm. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and an MBA with honours from the University of California, Davis.

Now his expertise is used working cross-functionally with the Hays Talent Solutions global leadership team to build the strategic plan for the expansion of Hays Talent Solutions in the Americas region. Focusing on business growth and client acquisition, activation, retention, and upsell across the region.