Is Your MSP Innovative or a Relic?

Flowchart on a chalk board with world globe showing AmericaMSP programs are both widespread and mature. Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) reports that 69 percent of respondents in its latest buyer survey use an MSP to manage their contingent workforce programs.  More than 50 percent of those programs have been in place for more than three years. If yours is a mature program, does it continue to uncover ways to generate new value or has momentum slowed to a crawl?

Signs of MSP Program Maturity
What can you expect from an MSP partner once all the low-hanging fruit of an unruly contingent workforce program is picked? At the beginning of an engagement, the focus is on implementation. Once MSP programs have firmly established procurement and HR protocols, policies and process standardization to mitigate risk and manage costs in contingent workforce management, what’s next in terms of value generation? Many programs tend to get mired in a continuous cycle of improving operational performance. Not a bad place to be, but it represents a plateau that can stall forward momentum.

Great Starters Sometimes Run Out of Steam
Just as some people are great at getting new projects off the ground, some MSPs are implementation impresarios but are challenged to take mature programs to the next level. The initial job of every MSP is to ensure the solution delivers expected benefits. The original RFP for a centralized contingent workforce program lays out clear objectives. The MSP begins implementation with those goals in mind. It pursues compliance with KPIs and SLAs, savings targets, legislative mandates and company policies. Achieving program goals, however, requires a good deal of down-in-the-trenches execution. Implementation, which should be the initial focus only, gets stretched to mop up lots of out-of-scope activities that only became apparent as the new policies and practices become institutionalized. Quarterly updates tend to get mired in a review of operational efficiencies, a restatement of issues, challenges and risks, and a report card on supplier optimization.

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Avoiding the Innovation Plateau
After a year or two, every MSP program should reach a steady state. Your MSP partner should be doing more than reporting progress at quarterly business reviews. While an MSP should always work to improve the current state, sometimes too much focus on operational oversight rather than strategic progression can lead to programs that grow stagnant because the MSP is too heads-down handling today’s tactical challenges to stay on top of industry advances. It may be rare for an MSP to proactively uncover blemishes that suggest the need for a phase 2 program, but your MSP should always maintain a big picture view in order to leap beyond this stage to uncover new avenues to optimize value in your contingent workforce program.

Restating MSP Program Objectives
At a minimum, there should certainly be a restatement of goals. Beyond that, your MSP should be tracking what the industry is doing. Can your MSP help you gain a new competitive advantage in the marketplace through contingent workforce analytics and innovative solutions for direct hire, SOW, IC?

Moving from Maturity to Innovation
Phase 2 MSP programs evolve the solution to meet new and changing organizational needs, from talent strategy alignment to supply base globalization. They assess and recommend program efficiencies and consider VMS technology maturity. They introduce innovative services through a focus on strategy, planning and long-term optimization. When your MSP is a true consultant and strategic partner rather than a tactical solutions provider, you open up opportunities for greater value generation.

As a consumer of MSP program benefits, what do you want program maturity to deliver to your organization? Share your thoughts.

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Andrew Erlichman
Andrew Erlichman is a senior solutions consultant for Bartech.

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