Real MSP Independence Is a Choice

business choiceWhy do managed service providers and consultants with no staffing subsidiaries or affiliation, and thus, no ability to fill positions in a managed staffing program, insist that they are in some way more objective than a staffing company working as the MSP?

Harold Mills recently wrote an interesting article in the staffing stream to this effect. The gist of the article was that because a staffing company is in the business of staffing, they have a “built in” conflict of interest and thus will not run an MSP in the best interest of the client or provide innovative solutions.

The sample quotes from Deloitte and McKinsey are great, but putting it in a value statement doesn’t make it true for them or any other company. While there are good MSPs and bad MSPs in the market, the companies who will continue to thrive will always need to be innovative and service the customer to their satisfaction or they will fail, even with a heartfelt value statement.

But more to the point, the article indicated that a staffing company running an MSP would never want to make less money going through an MSP rather than filling jobs themselves. That’s true and consistent with their business model. But that does not mean that they are not working in the best interest of the customer or providing any less value as an MSP.  I would argue that with the complexities of finding the right people in many areas of the job market today, why wouldn’t you hire an MSP with direct staffing experience rather than a consultant? Wouldn’t you be getting more value from that kind of partnership?

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Regardless, here are a few questions for all of the “un-conflicted” MSP providers who do not fill any jobs in their MSP programs: Do you make more money off of low pay rates or high pay rates in your programs? Do you make more money by pushing more volume through your programs? Do you make more money with fewer onsite employees or less experienced on-sites?

Your built in conflict of interest is really no different. It’s called capitalism (or just plain business).

My point is that no business, consultant or staffing company is completely objective. The client and the MSP should agree to terms that are mutually beneficial. An MSP program has to work on many levels – such as quality, efficiency, innovation, cost and service. To say that one-size-fits-all, or that no MSP with a staffing arm is working in the best interest of the customer is incorrect and subjective at best.

We are all in business to make money. Companies providing MSP services, whether or not their staffing subsidiaries participate in the program, have to service the customer to stay in business. If not, they will not continue in business. By the way, that’s probably why the staffing industry is graded so low in surveys. There’s obviously room for improvement (and for those who do provide great service).

Lastly, I thought it was ironic that the original post by Mr. Mills ran around Independence Day. I think  what clients really want is choice; not to be told that there is only one way or one model that will work. That’s one of the great things about America. For every story about a failed program that was run by a staffing company, there is one about a failed program that was run by a supposedly vendor-neutral MSP or consultant. Independence really equals choice.

MORE: What to consider when bringing the MSP back in-house

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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