At the heart of any high-performance MSP program is a network of staffing suppliers who as a dedicated supply-chain to the client can collectively outperform any other resources in finding talent. As competing entities these staffing suppliers may not work in-concert with one another, but the job of the MSP is to orchestrate the right players and to give them access to the most relevant requisitions while providing meaningful information and feedback so they can be successful in finding and presenting their best candidates to the client. In its truest form an MSP should act as a facilitator, providing information and resources that maximizes efficiencies for the client’s hiring managers as well as the staffing suppliers, rather than acting as a middle-man or gatekeeper. The “spirit” of the MSP program should be to expedite and clarify, rather than restrict or control.
Aligning Strategic Priorities
Some of the reasons that MSP programs have struggled particularly in the Energy Sector, is that at the foundation there is an inherent lack of “trust” and/or “credibility” with the service provider. This can often times be attributed to the fact that business priorities between the MSP, its staffing suppliers, and the end client are not aligned. If for example, the MSP provider has any stake in recruiting or staffing, then there is an inherent misalignment of business priorities due to the staffing suppliers competing either directly or indirectly with the MSP. This may be a lesser concern in other industries, but when the talent gap or labor shortage is as extreme as they are in oil & gas, vendor-neutrality becomes increasingly more important. The other example of misalignment materializes itself in the lack of credibility. If the MSP provider and more specifically its service delivery teams don’t have a deep knowledge or understanding of the client’s industry and operations, then the service offers limited value to the staffing suppliers who are relying on the MSP for insightful information – stuff they can’t easily get on their own. The MSP must be positioned as more than a simple administrator but as an integral business partner who sits at the helm of helping orchestrate information between candidates, staffing suppliers, and hiring managers. The MSP business must be strategically aligned to understand the clients’ operational challenges and therefore cannot be a just staffing generalist but more of an industry expert.
The Art of Partnering
Building an effective supply-chain of staffing partners is more art than science. In yesterday’s economy it may have made sense to simply increase the number of suppliers in order to fulfill the job requirements, but in the new economy this model fails unless you have true engagement from the suppliers. In today’s market, speed and transparency can trump price. For example, a staffing supplier who has negotiated a very “attractive” Bill Rate with a Client has little to no value if they are not able to get meaningful information or feedback from the end client to ultimately make a successful placement. Yet the same supplier who has an “average” Bill Rate with a different client may see significant value in this relationship if they receive the information and feedback that allows them to make multiple successful placements. This situation becomes exponentially more complex in larger organizations where the client has multiple needs from multiple hiring managers, requiring multiple staffing suppliers. The one to one communications are no longer possible which is why the MSP model is becoming so important today.
Creating an effective MSP program requires a true spirit of partnership for all parties involved. The “art” is in the ability to create the right balance between the needs/desires of the client and the needs/desires of the suppliers. Create too big of a supply chain and you lose engagement from suppliers. If the supply chain isn’t large enough, then the client’s needs go unmet. Every program is uniquely different and so should each supply-chain of suppliers. The MSP provider must create the right ecosystem of top-performing “go to” suppliers sometimes called Preferred or Tier 1 Suppliers. But additionally the supply chain often times requires a select number of specialty providers to address the dynamic needs of the client. Often times the supply-chain of suppliers is constantly changing and evolving as top performers may drop off or new sub-specialties maybe necessary. One major advantage of MSP programs is that measuring supplier performance is quantifiable and easy to track. The best suppliers always rise to the top. The key is to have all the best suppliers onboard and reward them with successful placements.
Getting the right level of engagement and buy-in from the client’s stakeholders and staffing suppliers takes trust, transparency and above all consistent performance. This is the MSP program manager’s ongoing challenge – to consistently deliver value to all the parties involved. Are we helping our client’s hiring managers save time and make better hires so they can improve their operations? Are we helping our supplier partners by getting the information that they need, when they need it, so they can make more successful placements?
There are some great resources out there on Simon Sinek’s concept of “Triangle of Trust through Transparency”. Also, to see another interesting post on MSP best practices check this out from IT solutions company VTech.