Becoming Successful Program Partners

After spending eight years as a business development director with an agency, I transitioned into a program management role within the last year in order to obtain MSP/VMS experience. My agency experience gave me visibility into the different strategies staffing agencies utilized when working with MSP/VMS programs. Many agencies viewed MSPs with resistance and skepticism, and our agency focused on preserving relationships with the MSPs and embracing the corporate goals of the programs we supported. Viewing programs from both sides of the table has provided me a unique perspective of how well-managed programs worked with agencies and how supportive agencies can develop into strategic program partners. My goal is to share insights with staffing firms on how to become a successful partners within MSP/VMS programs. Here are some of my thoughts.

Program Rules. Ensure your team has a long-term perspective when working within a managed contingent labor program. Contingent talent programs sponsors are senior executives within organizations and collaborate with program management to determine the strategies set forth within the program. By operating outside of the program rules set forth by the sponsor, you’re not embracing the strategy of the organization’s executives. In the short run, you may receive a spike in revenue due to obtaining a requisition directly from a contact, in the long run you’re not positioning your organization as a strategic partner. Internal sponsors frequently work with internal financial teams to analyze spend and data is shared with program management. Program management team has a centralized viewpoint and is continually focused on improving the supply chain with contingent workforce agencies that adhere to the rules put in place. It’s also a small world, program managers share insight on important strategic partners with other program managers and supplier relationship leaders.

Patience. Staffing is highly competitive, and everyone is seeking to grow. Be precise with your value proposition, let us know where you can truly assist. Share appropriate metrics with us. That doesn’t mean there will be an immediate door open. Firms that were professional and maintained a respectful follow-up cadence, did gain opportunities if a need arose. If the agencies filled the need, additional opportunities presented themselves.

PREMIUM CONTENT: What can management do to help staff develop professionally?

Prepare for Attrition. Attrition occurs in staffing. It’s never easy to replace existing relationships. It’s easy to have attrition plans in place with team members cross trained and strategic operating plans documented to ensure program knowledge is maintained. It’s been surprising to see how much momentum are lost because agencies are not effectively planning for attrition. An immense amount of agencies wanting to work with us and program management doesn’t have time to chase new contacts or refamiliarize your account with the program.

Metrics. By working within programs, staffing firm metrics will be captured and tracked in reports. Metrics are important indicators on agency performance and reporting is shared with executive leadership. Successful metrics can lead to an agency being championed and having an improved strategic alignment within the program. Program leadership continually evaluates potential vendors to improve the supply chain if needed. Performance within the program ensures your partnership. Additionally, when needing additional support with difficult-to-fill orders or challenging geographies, program teams will examine reporting for potential solutions. Successful metrics can lead to more opportunities.

Credentialing. Within the Healthcare industry, credentialing is key to onboarding and reducing risk. The best suppliers become familiar with contracts, and professionally manage credentialing to ensure contractual adherence for each program. It becomes very obvious to a hospital HR leader or credentialing team member if your firm doesn’t understand the basics of obtaining, verifying and assessing the qualifications of a practitioner. Joint Commission audits hospitals to ensure credentials are in place and the fines and potential lawsuits are excessive. As an agency, you’ll want to be in 100% compliance when an audit occurs. If a litigious event occurs involving a contractor, one of the first actions the hospital will do is pull the contractor’s credentialing information. Be the agency that has everything in place.

Make Life Easier for the Program Manager. The challenges of managing a program are immense. We appreciate agencies that strategically consider how to best partner with MSP/VMS programs. Agency practices that I appreciated were, Single Points of Contacts within agencies, Agencies that seamlessly blend National Recruiting Centers in with Regional teams, teams that can internally cascade communication, and centralized governance over best practices sought within respective programs.

On a day to day basis, I viewed all suppliers as equal, everyone was given an equal opportunity. When challenging needs arise, the agencies that worked within the guidelines of the program, professionally managed credentialing, and actively supported the program were called upon for help. We are vendor neutral, but performance leads itself to additional opportunities.

Christopher Mills

Christopher Mills
Christopher Mills is an enterprise workforce consultant for ShiftWise. He can be reached at Christopher.Mills (at) shiftwise (dot) com.

Christopher Mills

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