The role of suppliers in the services supply chain ecosystem has evolved significantly since the advent of the MSP (Managed Service Provider). World-class MSPs recognize the critical importance of strong and mutually profitable supplier partnerships when it comes to delivering value and efficiency to their customers. What follows are some best practices to help any MSP ensure strong and lasting supplier partnerships.
Embrace Vendor Neutrality
Competition fosters the best results when the playing field is level. The same holds true within the supplier community. A vendor-neutral MSP (one which is not owned by a staffing company) provides a more competitive environment because it must rely on external suppliers to fill job openings. By using a vendor-neutral MSP, suppliers are offered the same requisitions, under the same terms and conditions, at the same time. As a result, suppliers view vendor-neutral MSPs as fair and non-competitive. This ensures better program adoption and long-term participation. Ultimately, suppliers will view the vendor-neutral MSP as a partner rather than competitor from the very beginning.
Facilitate Meetings with Hiring Managers
One of the primary concerns voiced by suppliers upon the implementation of an MSP is that their hard work in cultivating trusting relationships with hiring managers will be interrupted, and the insights gleaned from those relationships will be lost. A world-class MSP understands the value in suppliers retaining deep knowledge of customers’ lines of business and the individual needs of hiring managers. While the “walking of the halls” that suppliers may have engaged in previously may no longer be permissible with an MSP, the ability to speak directly to managers is still of great value.
To ensure that those lines of communication remain open and those relationships stay intact, an MSP should support facilitating a supplier and hiring manager call for every requisition released. These facilitated calls provide suppliers opportunities to ask hiring managers pertinent questions regarding the requisition and to gain deeper insights into the requirements of the role and responsibilities; the project goals and culture of the team. These calls may occur multiple times. Particularly for niche or difficult to fill positions and when changes are made in the requirements following its release.
Encourage Clear and Consistent Communication
The most important factor required for a strong MSP/supplier partnership is a culture of clear and consistent communication. To ensure suppliers succeed, the MSP must maintain frequent and open dialogue to help set program goals and expectations. The MSP and suppliers need to be collaborating and sharing information on position fulfillment, resume review, candidate feedback, and pertinent updates. Without this transparency into the sourcing process, there cannot be success for the customer, the suppliers or the MSP.
Optimize Your Supplier Base
Upon going-live with a new customer, some MSPs often set about drastically cutting the existing supplier list, believing that smaller is necessarily better. A world-class MSP has a fundamentally different view, one of supplier optimization. There is no magic number for the amount of suppliers a program requires in order to be successful. Rather than worrying about how many suppliers are enrolled in the program, an MSP must focus on ensuring the program retains the right suppliers, skills alignment and geography requirements. The goal of an MSP is not to minimize supplier participation. Instead, it should maximize the effectiveness of those participating through proper alignment and performance measurements. This ensures the customer engages the appropriate mix of suppliers to serve their labor requirements.
Provide Ongoing Assessment and Feedback
All relationships need periods of reflection and assessment; the MSP and supplier partnership is no different. World-class MSPs provide routine opportunities for discussion of supplier performance and feedback. Supplier forums are recommended, providing a vehicle for the MSP, suppliers, and customers to gather and discuss the current program state, areas of improvement and opportunity, and plans. Supplier participation allows them to give voice to their experiences and provides constructive feedback for continuous program improvement.
In addition to the forums, scorecards and business reviews are needed to show how suppliers within the program are performing relative to service level agreements and facilitating discussion for areas of opportunity and improvement moving forward.
A world-class MSP recognizes the mutually beneficial relationship with supplier partners is critical to a successful MSP program. Communication, transparency, efficiency, and mutual trust are keys to ensuring such successful partnerships.