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Ready. Set. Deploy. The MSP Comes of Age

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Posted by Matt Rivera

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November 3, 2014

Kissing_Couple“If you think you can manage your contingent workforce on your own, you’re wrong. There’s a reason there are experts in the world, which explains why contingent workforce management now must be outsourced.” 

The room of 75 staffing professionals fell silent when a Procurement Leader for a major Fortune 500 company made that statement at the recent CWS Summit and Solution Forum in Las Vegas, one of the leading Contingent Staffing Solutions conferences

It wasn’t so much that the comment was unexpected; rather, it was the boldness with which it was delivered. In the recent past, the need for Managed Service Providers (Managed Staffing Providers) had been met with some debate on the part of corporate staffing departments, which worried that turning over their contingent staffing management to outside partners could limit their own command and control in the workplace. 

But with that one statement, the Procurement Leader had realigned expectations: Managed Staffing Services are no longer a “nice to have” but a “got to have” in a world where compliance and transparency increasingly apply pressure.

So the question is no longer when, but how. How do smart organizations select, develop, and deploy contingent staffing solutions in a way that assures corporations get the right talent at the right time at the right competitive rate? But it’s also more than that. It’s how organizations can deploy MSP to gain better visibility into their contingent workforce while driving down cost, limiting risk and liability, and making the overall process more efficient. 

If quality talent is the end game, MSP is the game plan. And understanding how to play it is now the driving interest of many corporate staffing departments. 

THE PRESSURE TO EVOLVE

Change is never organic, never the given nor the status quo. Rather, change needs to be spurred, incited, and pushed forward. Talk to internal staffing managers at some of the biggest corporations in the world and they quickly identify the forces at play that made change a route for MSP implementation. 

“Never has the need for control been more urgent than it is today. An uncertain economy means organizations must rely on contingent workforces to meet the inevitable ebbs and flows of business,” said Robin Johnson, SVP Enterprise Solutions at Yoh. Such disruption might start at the CEO or CFO level, as leaders struggle to better manage uncontrolled and uncategorized spend. 

“We see a lot of clients that simply don’t have a category for temporary spend, and their CEO is left in the dark with no dashboard or direction as to where and when temporary spend will hit the balance sheet,” continued Johnson.

Such uncertainty breeds anxiety that streams down to many levels of the organization—a cascade that includes the CHRO and VP of Human Resources and trickles all the way down to recruiting and administrative staff. 

But it’s more than just the uncertainty of the spend. “Contingent workforce management comes with its own degree of risk, in screening, onboarding, training, and safety management,” said Jim Hein, VP Enterprise Solutions at Yoh. “More and more we’re seeing legal take a firm hand in pushing HR to set up the processes and procedures of compliance.”

Nothing is likely to be less compliant than the human factor: the people and the talent that power business forward. And this pressure is likely to increase. New OSHA initiatives are pushing hard to extend safety training and standards to the temporary workforce. In California, new regulations mandate stricter safety training and documentation that places even more pressure on already overworked HR departments. 

“Compliance now guides the entire supplier network, guaranteeing consistency and quality by ensuring that temporary workers meet standards and hold the necessary certifications,” said Hein.

A CHECKLIST FOR DEPLOYMENT

With such an evolving regulatory environment and an increased need for control and transparency, staffing professionals are now left with the inevitable question of how to gain organizational support to deploy.

The path to MSP is lined with detours and roadblocks, but these best practices can show you the way:

# 1.  Gaining executive buy-in.

Earning executive buy-in to engage an MSP is becoming easier as the top-down pressure increases and the C-suite comes on board. Still, it’s up to staffing professionals to argue their case, and no case is stronger than the dual benefits of cost control and transparency.

“Executive management is more open than ever to the argument for MSP, and working with a seasoned partner can often win the debate—it’s hard to discount the processes, procedures, and presumed cost savings that MSP can provide both strategically and tactically,” said Johnson.

On the strategic level, a carefully vetted, seamlessly embedded supply chain can reduce your time to hire by as much as 20 to 30% or more. But then there are the ancillary benefits of a partner who understands the precise qualifications of a candidate and can surface the top three resumes from a pile of 50 submissions.

Those kind of efficiencies play well within the prism of corporate decision-making.

#2.  Measuring your organization’s tolerance for change.

Take the temperature at your company: How willing is your organization to accept change, and how much change can it accept at once? A highly effective MSP program will come with a complete review of your company’s sourcing, onboarding, reporting, training, and monitoring of its contingent workforce. If that’s too much to swallow at once, work with a partner that can break it down into smaller doses.

For instance, the organization might begin by evaluating and qualifying its supplier network. Having fewer but higher-quality suppliers is often an acceptable first step in supporting an entire MSP program. This process allows you to feather in additional MSP responsibilities that take into account onboarding, offboarding, training, and compliance.

#3. Measuring and benchmarking performance. 

Of all MSP’s benefits, the ability to set objectives and meet goals is perhaps its most compelling. Here, sophisticated partners can use technologies available to cull data important to grading, monitoring, and overseeing multiple suppliers, as well as review the efficient coming and going of contingent employees.

“Technology often represents the framework of an effective MSP program,” said Johnson. “The ability to deploy the right technology is critical to optimizing the program and solidifying corporate support for the program over time.” 

In one brief comment uttered at a trade convention, managed staffing services were brought of age. As more C-level executives reach de-facto acceptance of MSP, it’s up to HR and staffing professionals to get ready, set, and deploy a contingent staffing solution that simultaneously drives down costs while providing the organization better transparency into a compliant temporary workforce.

Matt Rivera serves as Vice President, Marketing and Communications and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of Yoh’s marketing and brand communications. Matt holds a degree in Journalism/Public Relations and has been working in the staffing industry for more than 25 years. Prior to this role, Matt held many different roles from branch recruiting and proposal writing to technology management and online marketing.

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Topics: Leadership & Management, Contingent Workforce Management

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