Program Essentials: Supplier Management

partnership (2)It ain’t sexy. It ain’t rocket science. And it ain’t new to the industry.

But it’s absolutely foundational to any well-run contingent workforce program.

PREMIUM RESEARCH: Evolution of Supplier Management Strategies

A program can have the fanciest vendor management system (VMS), an impressive program team, the best training and most streamlined of processes, but if they don’t have a strategic supply base, then all else is almost for naught. That company will have a well tracked, efficient, risk adverse, service-with-a-smile failing program because at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to bring in talented resources. Thoughtful supplier management is a basic essential to a successful contingent workforce program.

Staffing suppliers, VMSs and MSPs can sell the tactical and strategic mechanisms behind supplier base strategy, but before program owners buy, approve or create their own roadmap, they need to understand and articulate their company’s talent acquisition strategy and priorities. How does a company want to attract contingent resources so that they can quickly meet their company’s needs and project goals?

There are many questions for program owners to consider, a few examples are below:

  • What is their FTE talent acquisition strategy?
    • Does their contingent workforce talent strategy mirror, augment or differ from their FTE strategy?
    • In what ways?
  • Does their program include U.S. and non-U.S. regions?
    • If a global program, is the talent acquisition strategy for the U.S. the same for all countries?
  • Do you want to facilitate one supplier strategy or many per region? Per U.S. region or international regions?
    • Do you have the resources and support structure to support multiple strategies? i.e. onsite premise, master vendor, competitive bidding, tiering, etc
  • How many suppliers does the program currently have?
    • How much rogue spend do you estimate to go around the program?
    • What regions may need supply base augmentation vs optimization?
    • Does your team want national firms, niche firms, a blend of both?
  • What skill sets does your current supply base cover?
    • Easily? With difficulty? Not currently covering?
    • Are their skill sets with too much, or unnecessary, competition and others with none?
    • Are the current suppliers performing? Where?
      • Are they currently being measured or tracked for fill rate, quality or time?
    • Does your team prefer to spread volume across many vendors or prefer to contain volume to leverage discounts?
  • Are you setting your staffing suppliers up for success?
    • Are you allowing access to managers or does the MSP facilitate communication?
    • Does your MSP or program team facilitate communication in a timely manner?
    • Do your suppliers know what “success” means at your company?
    • Is there too much or not enough competition among requisitions?
    • Does the supplier feel like a partner or a commodity to your company?
    • Do your staffing suppliers understand and trust your program strategy?
    • Are suppliers able to provide feedback to your team? Does your program listen?

The last category of questions is one that has often been overlooked, with the assumption that suppliers will do what needs to be done to keep the business. However, as contingent workforce programs have grown and matured, so have staffing suppliers. Suppliers now look to work with companies that treat them as a partner, give clear and consistent communication, play fair, have a face (a partnership cannot just be from behind a desk!), and where they believe they can work successfully. Suppliers and recruiters want to work with contingent workforce programs where they have a chance to succeed, shine and be heard. Programs where suppliers are treated as commodities and are interchangeable run the risk of having top quality candidates being submitted to other programs because of a better relationship. Markups go a long way but partnership and clarity of program can go further.

Staffing suppliers provide the support to success and the formula of failure to a contingent workforce program. If your supplier team can fill your requisitions and manager needs, all the other infrastructure that comes with CW management makes sense. If they don’t, all else falls away. Well thought-out and derived supplier management sets the tone of your program for your managers. Opening a requisition quickly means less to a manager if once it’s opened, it stays open.

 MORE: Hiring Manager? Not at This Tech Giant

Erika Novak

Erika Novak
Erika Novak (Halverson) is senior manager of global contingent workforce solutions and strategies at LinkedIn.

Erika Novak

Share This Post


Related Articles

Powered by ·