Before and After: How VMS Has Changed the Game for Corporate Placement


VMS continues to be an instrumental tool in the planning and execution of the modern corporate workforce.  To a large degree, VMS has been a driving force in propelling the human capital management function from the tactical role it played before the 1990s into the strategic value center it has become.  Here’s a synopsis on how VMS came to inhabit a mission-critical role in workforce management and how this powerful technology grew to inhabit its place at the center of corporate placement activities.

At the dawn of the VMS era, workforce management activities were predominately focused on what was then called simply, “Human Resources”. Practitioners of a certain vintage (like this blogger sadly) will remember when HR departments were focused mostly on managing the acquisition and administration of full-time employees. The term “contingent workforce” was yet to be coined because the only non-employee labor to speak of at the time was the “temp laborer”.  Temps in those days did not comprise a significant portion of the overall workforce and were utilized mainly as extra capacity during peak seasons in retail and in clerical/admin roles.

In this piece examining the origins of the modern VMS, Chris Dwyer of CPO Rising explains, “VMS solutions were initially designed as ‘eProcurement for temporary labor,’ swinging more to the procurement side of the enterprise and providing a supplier management edge to staffing suppliers, vendors, and agencies.” Dwyer notes that early VMS tools were not equipped to handle, “the complex and IC components of contingent workforce management certainly in play but not completely considered part of this category from a management perspective.”  It was ultimately the visibility and strategic decision support unleashed by these early solutions that fired the imagination of HR professionals to consider how the tools might grow and evolve into new areas. 

According to Staffing Industry Analysts, Inc., the Internet’s transformation of business, globalization and the rise of eBusiness, B2B, E-Procurement etc. catalyzed the growth in popularity of the VMS.  Further, the changing nature of labor types in the new Internet Age was also driving increased relevancy of new modes of employment. The rise of the project/contract worker, the SOW and the now ubiquitous independent contractor were driven by the effects of internet technology.  So it makes sense that the same internet technology would be turned to for answers to the labor challenges it had spawned in the first place.

Today as we all know, the VMS has grown into an indispensable piece of corporate infrastructure, delivering control and visibility to the services segment of the overall supply chain; a segment which has grown in size and complexity since the earliest days of process automation.  The contemporary workforce now relies heavily on ICs, project workers/SOW workers and a growing array of worker classification types. The control VMS provides corporations over the myriad compliance and administrative concerns ranging from IC classification to supplier insurance coverage to SOW contract management and a host of other complex business processes cannot be overstated.  It has truly enabled the modern workforce to flourish into what it has become today.

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