I participate in managed service programs (MSP). I like them. When run well, they act as the chassis for the transaction engine, so to speak. Every part of the fulfillment cycle is connected, recorded, tracked, compliant and transparent. At my company, we relish the opportunity to be measured: It will show how good we are at giving the customer the support and service they need.
That said, an MSP is a program. It’s a process. It is not a person, a relationship. And people who are purchasing the services rendered by people, who in turn are represented by people who are selected by people and will work for people need, well, people. MSPs drive efficiencies. And the good MSPs love people. The bad MSPs don’t.
In the best possible world, everyone is motivated by rightness and honesty and doing the just thing. Motivations are secondary. We all know the world isn’t perfect, however. Even for the best, the myriad of pressures from all directions can undermine the best of intentions. I submit to you: when you know someone, you do better. THAT’s the chassis for human nature. Real world: Is it easier to hang up on a telemarketer or your best friend?
The good MSPs want their “customer” customers to know their “supplier” customers, and vice versa. Getting a solid feel for the positions, personality, culture – that’s all incredibly important, but when there’s a great candidate, the good MSP wants you to pick their customer, not your other customer, to submit to. And they know that if you looked that manager in the eye and said you’d get them some talent, you’re far more likely to actually deliver.
The good MSPs know that they aren’t perfect. They also know that when suppliers and customers know, like and respect each other, a multitude of sins can be redeemed, mistakes resolved and misunderstandings mitigated. It’s just the reality of relationships. The REALLY good MSPs also try to join in the fun by getting to know their suppliers and customers really well themselves! Good will is a bank that needs to be constantly resupplied, and the good programs fill it to overflowing.
OK, let’s address the elephant in the room. There are cheaters who take advantage of relationships. You know what? The honest suppliers hate them. They undermine all we do. Seriously, do us all a favor and get rid of them. Don’t shut down your program and throw locks on the doors because some idiot supplier didn’t value the opportunity you’ve given them! We do, and we earn it every day. Manage the poor suppliers and embrace the good suppliers as partners: They will end up feeling as responsible for the program’s success as the MSP. And if you have suppliers that don’t, ditch ‘em. There are plenty who would give their firstborn to have a chance with you.
Are there hiring managers who will try to work around the system? Sure. They have managers, too. Your good suppliers will educate them on the program, and since a good MSP has relationships as well, they, too can educate these customers. In extreme cases, a more senior manager needs to become involved, but again, relationships (here, between the MSP and the hiring manager) go a long way toward eliminating work around. They usually just want to be heard, for goodness sakes.
A good suppler team, with clear rules of the road, embraced by the MSP as supplier PARTNERS will work together toward the program’s success and the customer’s satisfaction. And when the customers know these suppliers and their MSP, guess what? They try harder, too!
I think Indira Gandhi got it right.