Three Steps to Maximize Your Workforce Supplier Network


Your workforce management program is only as strong as its weakest link. While you can control the actions, practices and processes of your internal efforts, it is much more difficult to ensure your workforce supplier network is up to the standards you’ve established. If they’re not up to snuff, your program suffers. So what can be done to ensure you get the very best performance and service from your workforce supplier network? Here are three key steps to take to ensure you get the results you need.

1. Drive competition within your existing supplier network

Competition among suppliers serving an MSP is a natural and smart way to encourage suppliers to continuously perform at their best and contribute affirmatively to a best-in-class MSP. Begin fostering competition by focusing on rates and quality. Showing suppliers that their competitors are providing better-qualified candidates at lower rates is one of the easiest/best ways to keep bill rates down. Pay special attention to suppliers submitting over-qualified candidates at higher rates than requested. Proper qualification of the position with the Hiring Manager, aimed at discovering whether they are willing to pay more for a higher qualified candidate and communicating that in the job order to suppliers, can save money spent on sourcing, submitting, and reviewing over-qualified candidates.

Next, focus on speed. Using performance analytics, share with suppliers the direct relationship between first/fastest submitted quality candidates and placements, which is the ultimate goal for your MSP. Having actual performance data from your performance scorecards to share with your supplier network is an invaluable tool. It demonstrates in an easy-to-understand fashion, how the suppliers’ performance compares to their competition, and affords visibility into how each supplier is performing against MSP expectations. Additionally, this practice provides suppliers with improvement opportunities, proves the metrics and parameters of the MSP are attainable, and increases the value of a quality MSP to the customer.

2. Engage in some supplier segmentation

Segmentation is useful in identifying which suppliers should be offered jobs in any given scenario. Getting to the right supplier for any given requirement plays a large role in the success of an MSP. Start by gathering the support capabilities of your workforce supplier network. Distinguish between what the supplier is capable of delivering and what they are currently delivering in terms of actual headcount.

Understand the importance of qualification factors such as diversity certification to your customer. Consider relevant key performance indicators when creating a supplier hierarchy.  Weigh factors according to metrics most important to your customer. For example, what is more important to the customer: diversity spend or volume of submittals filled within three days? The answer could mean the difference between having diversity suppliers as your Tier 1 supplier group versus the most active suppliers with submittals. Create tiers or groups of suppliers to which job openings are released. Clearly convey rules for length of days the jobs should remain open or the number of candidates to be received before job is released to next tier/group of suppliers.

Lastly, review on a regular basis to ensure sufficient coverage and performance is obtained while continuing to meet contractual SLAs and fill rates.

3. Open Communication

As your organization grows and increases business opportunities, it is crucial to keep suppliers educated regarding your company’s services and abilities. Carefully review feedback from your suppliers and their follow-ups with contractors on site. It cannot be overstated how much one may learn by simply asking about emerging business needs and opportunities.

Learn all you can about each of the suppliers in your network and each supplier’s capabilities to enrich your mutual partnership across the enterprise. Frequently, unique needs among new and existing customers arise. Emerging needs and challenges can be more quickly addressed by current and potential suppliers, only if the MSP knows which suppliers can support those needs, preventing missed opportunities.

Create and/or improve the processes driving your MSP by soliciting feedback from your workforce supplier network regarding what works on other programs. Incorporate the applicable best practices into your MSP and you will yield increased performance and placements. Don’t forget to focus your assessments inwards as well, asking such introspective questions as, “Is my VMS tool or process hindering the successful placement of candidates for suppliers?” Convene focus groups of suppliers and their recruiters to include on-job qualification calls for the gathering of critical information from the customer manager. This helps to pinpoint qualifications and requirements needed to find the best candidates.

Supplier partners are a valuable source of measuring the performance of your MSP. Take every opportunity to listen to their input. Whether it be through regularly administered surveys or during quarterly business reviews. Like any good, lasting relationship, communication is essential.

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