VMS – Must the Staffing Suppliers Suffer?

Having been on both sides of the table when it comes to vendor management systems, I really have to shake my head at the mindset of some of the players in this industry. In my prior life as a client, when we were selecting our VMS technology, we included our vendors as part of our due diligence team. They were our business partners and it was important for me to keep them happy; they had a tougher job than we did — they had to keep my hiring managers happy.

When we selected our technology, we selected a company that not only met my organization’s needs but also one that pledged the importance of the vendor base. I wanted to make sure that I did not violate my suppliers. With this process I made sure that the vendors were happy, my hiring managers were happy, my boss was happy and in turn I was happy.

Fast forward a few years and now I am on the VMS side of the table. I have pledged to make our tool vendor-friendly while still meeting the client’s needs and am happy to see that some of the other players are doing the same. Our number one commitment is to our clients. However, we are also trying to make our tools vendor-friendly. We have made sure a recruiter doesn’t have to spend 15 minutes submitting a candidate. We allow a repository to store client-specific documents. We are providing vendor partners with FREE integrations with our tool; I still don’t understand how some VMS companies could charge for this. Isn’t it just another way for these companies to generate an additional  revenue stream at the cost to valued suppliers?

Our company is not the only one that is moving toward this vendor-friendly model. Again, the client is our number one priority, but it is important to take care of the folks that are paying you. We are not saying that we are better than other VMS companies, but if you are a decision maker, what is your company doing? As you are running your programs (VMS or Client) take a minute to make sure that you are looking out for your vendors. Ultimately, they drive the success of your program, your clients’ program and are the secret to your success.



Sanjay Shah

Sanjay Shah
Sanjay Shah is president of StaffingLogic, which specializes in VMS/MSP services. He can be reached at sshah (at) staffinglogic (dot) com or 610-617-1536.

Sanjay Shah
Sanjay Shah is president of StaffingLogic, which specializes in VMS/MSP services. He can be reached at sshah (at) staffinglogic (dot) com or 610-617-1536.

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Recieved this via email:


From: Mehta, Rochak (CORP)

Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2012 8:28 AM

To: Sanjay M. Shah 

Subject: RE: Our latest blog on VMS and the relationship with Staffing Suppliers


Nice article Sanjay. Comes across as rather passionately written – one can almost “Feel the pain”.  Agree with most of the points put forth in your piece, here are a few thoughts :


I completely agree with you, whether a company is employing an internally managed VMS or an MSP, the end user – the hiring manager is the most important person. Not only for the vendor but also for the program management. They alone have the ability ( which they sometimes know and sometimes don’t) to make or break a program. Keeping in alignment with your comment of vendor “partners” in a program – I think, the VMS program for a program manager (Internal or MSP)is not only a partnership between the Program office and the vendors, but if you will, think of it as a triangle, with the hiring managers as the third point. In fact, think of PMO and Vendors as the BASE Of the triangle and the HM as the apex. In my opinion, feedback / suggestions / needs / reports etc. MUST flow from the “apex” to the relative points on the base. Agreed the vendors have the unenviable task of keeping in line with the program guidelines and keeping the HM’s happy – but,  they also have to make sure that they build enough trust with the PMO ( by committing to adhere to – and actually adhering to-  compliance & legal guidelines  / feedback / surveys etc.) and the HM ( purely by providing the BEST quality of the talent available at the best possible rates in the most timely manner). Easier said than done right ?!




More often than not, the “Bottom line” for the vendor is what causes the upset in this “triangle”. In a perfect program – vendors would be able to have a decent margin, adhere to the PMO guidelines and have  direct access to the HM’s needs – both via the VMS and by having established a relationship with them.  Things go awry when that balance is upset. Many a times I have noticed a vendor will submit a candidate at a rate that will have an almost ridiculous margin! Frankly .. it makes me wonder if the vendor realizes that the candidate WILL find out what the other guy is getting and WILL go and complain to the manager and WILL go find another vendor. Guess what ? our perfect triangle just lost one side of it flowing from the apex to the vendor !! in some instances – the HM might contact the PMO about such an instance .. but chances are the PMO can’t really “Do” anything about it .. now we’re seeing the second side from the apex weakening. .. I think you get the idea. Also, from the vendors perspective, if they are so sure of their screening criteria and take pride in the matching of a req to a person – there would not be a need to hedge their bets. Vendors need to get over the “make hay while the sun shines” mentality and get ON with the program. You and I both know of some vendors who do the former and some the latter – of course from your prior life as a client.


I’m not saying all vendors do this, but I’m also not convinced most Don’t. Varying degrees of the above scenario are common place .. question is .. should this be acceptable .. and shouldn’t the vendors AND the pmo develop a “conscience” of sorts  and realize the most important person in the mix – the apex of our triangle – the END USER is getting a raw deal from this?


It’s the small things that matter – Commitment, collaboration, customer service and compliance come to mind …. The 4C’s !!!!! remember that one ?? (...THIS WAS THE TAG LINE ON OUR BUSINESS CARDS...)


More some other time .. but all in all … vendors and the PMO HAVE TO BE PARTNERS … willing to sacrifice a little on BOTH SIDES to make sure the relationship stays solid and withstands the small hiccups. Perhaps a little too easily written than actually done .. after all .. not everyone thinks from the heart. Some think from the wallet, some from the head .. and some .. not at all ! “fees” and “freebies” are, in my mind, something that comes into a little later – complaints from the vendors are acceptable if they are doing everything they can and aren’t being treated fairly. But, when you yourself as a vendor are not willing to fortify your relationships and fulfill the commitments .. why in the world would I want to look at you as a point that supports the base of my triangle – you’re then reduced to ONLY a point on my line – Huge mathematical difference!




Sanjay, I couldn't agree more with your sentiments in this post.


What I explain to customers is that there are 5, count them FIVE, key stakeholders in every staffing transaction.


1. The End Client - This is the entity spending the money for a service (most companies spend the most money each year on labor) so we are talking about tens of millions of dollars, thus the end client should be everyone's primary focus. But just because they are our primary focus, this doesn't mean they are our only focus.


2. The Candidate - Given the fact that there is very low unemployment in the professionals labor segment, it is my feeling that many VMS partners, MSP companies and end customers completely neglect this aspect of the transaction. These are people after all...not products. By neglecting the candidate experience, you can completely turn off great candidates from wanting to work for your end client. And no one wants that!


3. The Staffing Firms - The best staffing firms have access to the talent (the second most important ascpect of this transaction), so to your points made above, it is important for VMS companies, MSP partners and end customers to know their staffing suppliers so they can provide value and not be viewed as a commodity.


4. The VMS company - Very critical that the VMS technology partner understands the goals & objectives of the end client. So they can then customize their solution to the best of their ability. This is afterall how progress is made in any software transaction. Architect, build, test, deploy, support, refine, repeat...


5. The MSP supplier (if one is involved) - If a customer chooses to outsource their contigent labor decisions to an MSP suplier, it is critical that the MSP partner has full visibility into the end customers project plans and understand the capabilities of their staffing suppliers. They shouldn't just "sit in the middle", rather...they need to provide value.


In my humble opinion (and after 16 years in the business) what I've outlined above is an optimal way to create win-win-win-win-win transactions.

 @chrismader30 @randstadtechus 


 @chrismader30  @randstadtechus



You are point on with your 5 partners (I always bundle VMS / MSP together since we act as both). In this blog I didn't address the Candidate experience but have actually written different blogs on that topic as a whole. Without the Candidate all of us Suppliers and Clients would be out of a job.


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