Getting the “Why?” right in an MSP RFP

Staffing Industry Analysts has provided some great information and tools for thinking about and conducting an RFP process for a managed service provider (MSP). A template for an MSP RFP is available along with many other articles and information.

But there’s one other thing to consider that also relates to the RFP process and it’s one of the most important parts of preparing for it.

You need to know why you are looking for help in the form of an MSP; the “Why?” in “Why are we doing this?” question. It could be to improve the quality of your contingent workforce, save on your spend in this area or to gain visibility or increased compliance.

These are all good goals. The question will be, can your organization agree on why they want to have an MSP program?

What are executives looking for? Savings, risk mitigation, visibility?

What are hiring managers looking for? Better quality candidates, faster delivery, lower rates?

What is HR or procurement looking for? Supplier management, consolidated invoicing, a better deal?

How do you put these all together into one MSP program? If you thought I was going to say, “you can’t,” then you are only partially right. I would say it’s difficult, but only in the beginning.

I think the key here is to understand that many MSP programs have phases, some intended, some not intended. For example, you may choose to immediately reduce the number of suppliers and only keep top performers. Or, in the first year you might try to standardize or reduce rates across the board to save money. These may be first steps, after which you tackle other issues like quality, compliance or process improvements.

The point is, it’s difficult (but not impossible) to tackle all of these issues at once. In fact, you may not be able to address certain issues until others are resolved.

This takes me back to the “Why?” of your MSP program. Knowing why you want to invest in an MSP program and what your intended results are, can help you greatly with the prioritization of your MSP program goals, and thus your RFP. This is key for an MSP provider to be able to communicate to you during the RFP process how they will be able to meet your goals and provide the service you desire.

Lastly, I would suggest you think to year two and three of your program, even as you are setting up your initial program. I say this because in my experience, the first year typically has some very easy to identify goals and there are obvious pain points which are usually a bit easier for everyone to agree on. Years two and three are not always so easy.

After the initial year or years, the issues tend to be more around value issues, quality issues, or soft cost savings. Having a good idea of where you want to go, even a few years out, may help you steer the program in the early years, and will give the MSP a good idea of what success will look like long term. The hard part is deciding which is most important immediately and in the future.

Regardless of why you want to implement an MSP, in most cases for any company using a significant amount of contingent labor, an MSP makes sense. Preparing for it and setting it up can be a challenge, but most companies see significant benefits and results.

Matt Rivera
Matt Rivera is the Director of Customer Solutions for Yoh, a leading provider of recruitment process outsourcing and staffing solutions. He writes for their blog The Seamless Workforce.

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