A Look in the Mirror

I’ve been in the VMS industry for more than 10 years and just about every client with whom I’ve dealt has articulated the virtues of garnering data from a VMS in order to better manage their supply base. As a result, we VMS providers have developed a robust and granular view into the suppliers’ activities. Some clients go deep while others focus only at topline metrics such as “time to fill”, “percent hired vs. interviewed,” “percent within the rate card,” “early terminations,” etc. Analyzing supplier performance is important and valuable to both the client and the staffing firms. However, I believe there is a great opportunity to conduct more introspection and take a hard and objective look at internal “performance” as well.

Vendor Management Software illuminates both internal and external behaviors. Few, however, exploit the opportunity to look internally. I have yet to sit in a Quarterly Business Review and hear a client tell a supplier, “The data tells us that hiring managers A, B, and C continuously fail to send out complete and informative requisitions. As a result, your time to fill is challenged. We want to get your feedback and assure you that we’re aware of our internal shortcomings and we intend to address them.”

Equally refreshing would be the conversation that went something like this, “You know your early termination numbers are high but upon further analysis we found that a majority of early terminations across all suppliers occur with Managers X, Y, and Z. In the spirit of searching for the truth, we’d like to know if these managers are difficult to work with. I’d appreciate your views so we can address whatever we own in this problem.”

It is easy to ascribe blame to others. We all do it. I know I’m guilty of it from time to time. We also know that an issue can rarely be blamed solely on one person or event. Normally, problems trace to several people or factors. Resolution and improvement comes from considering all the contributing factors, not just the overt. A fulcrum of success has always been a relentless commitment to introspection and course correction. Vendor Management Systems offer the “mirrors” with which to look inside. I strongly encourage companies implementing a VMS to enable functionality that will provide better internal insight. For example, require contractors to rate their experience with your company and personnel. Simply rating the contractor only provides half the picture.

I remember attending the first Staffing Industry Analysts conference that addressed VMS usage. It was about 10 years ago and I distinctly remember VMS being likened to a devil (feedback from staffing companies given to SIA). That still gives me a good laugh. VMS is a tool that can be used to shine a light on behavior. The user determines the light’s focal point. Instead of casting the beam outward, I suggest hanging the light from above and taking a good look around.

Doug Leeby
Doug Leeby is president of Beeline. He can be reached at Doug.Leeby (at) Beeline (dot) com

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