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Evaluating Staffing Partners for Competence and Fit

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If you’re like most business decision makers, you have already taken advantage of the flexibility, skill, diversity, and other benefits a contingent workforce brings to your organization. But to truly accrue all the advantages agile talent can offer, it may be advantageous to partner with professional outside vendors to hire, train, onboard, and manage your part-time, freelance, and statement-of-work workers. Working with managed service providers (MSP), vendor management system (VMS), third-party payroll service firm can save companies time, effort, and money by providing the most qualified candidates, expediting the onboarding process, and overcoming logistical challenges.

But engaging an MSP and investing in a VMS platform is only advisable if the vendor meets your company’s needs, whether that means cutting costs, fostering diversity, increasing efficiency, or accomplishing some other strategic objective. When choosing partners to oversee your recruitment, employment, and management of contingent workers, it pays to do your homework to find a service provider that is not only competent, but also compatible with your organization’s culture, management style and business strategy.

MSP, VMS, and other agile workforce management partners must demonstrate competence, not only in procurement, onboarding, and cost management, but also within your industry. They should understand what makes your profession “tick.” This understanding and competence will manifest in a variety of ways:

  1. Cost – A primary reason companies turn to labor partners is to limit their recruiting and payroll costs. If you’re interested in engaging these partners, you should audit your current total labor costs – full-time and part-time employees, freelancers, seasonal, and all other categories. That way, you can easily compare the savings your MSP delivers.
  2. Talent Source Evaluation – You should insist on continuous improvement from your sourcing partner. MSPs should be held accountable for working to expand and perfect its labor sources, evaluating vendors’ performance, and integrating contingent into your workforce.
  3. Fulfillment – The efficacy of your contingent workforce policies will hinge on how quickly, how efficiently, and how often your MSP completes your order for specialized talent. Quickly filling open positions is key to responding to business opportunities and challenges. But speed is only one component. Evaluate partners on other traits such as assignment length, fit, and quality.
  4. Compliance – Labor laws can be tricky, and when you outsource your people-procurement activities, you should not have to worry that your partner is complying with jurisdictional and industry standards on wages, and privacy, and your own in-house and contractual standards, including diversity recruitment, risk management, etc. A competent MSP will regularly measure and meet compliance and performance metrics.

Once potential workforce partners have demonstrated competence and industry knowledge overall, it is time to determine which is the best fit for your organization. There are a number of services labor procurement agencies can provide that demonstrate their suitability for your firm:

  1. Strategic Input – Most contingent labor agencies can deliver the nuts and bolts, but true partners will add value to your workforce management tasks. One important way is by keeping you advised of innovations and best practices that can streamline your human resources functions, including onboarding, forecasting, cycle analysis, and more.
  2. Operational Support – Similarly, you want an MSP that will engender trust through documentation and reporting that can be used to establish workflows and streamline processes. At the same time, your partner should be able to demonstrate an overall plan for managing your agile labor force and a backup procedure for fast-track needs and remediation if something goes wrong.
  3. Appropriate Service Level – Your ideal partner will adapt to your needs, not try to force you into a “one size fits all” service plan. Depending on your situation and industry you may want your labor supplier to handle all aspects of your contingent worker needs, from vetting talent agencies and interviewing candidates through training, oversight, and offboarding at projects’ end. Or you may prefer more of a consultant/client relationship, where your dedicated MSP agent works closely with HR to create, approve, and implement various tactics.
  4. Scalability – You develop a contingent workforce strategy to deal with the seasonal demand, special projects and the vagaries of the business cycle. Your MSP should be sensitive to your ever-changing labor needs. It should be able to ramp up the supply of specialized workers or trim back the services you need without adding layers of bureaucracy or additional fixed costs.

Hiring a managed service provider, subscribing to a vendor management system, or engaging any outside provider to handle your labor recruitment, onboarding, or payroll tasks only makes sense if it fills a need within your company. Outsourcing is only worth the effort if it saves you money, allows you to focus resources on revenue-generating activities, or gives you the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities or overcome challenges. Taking stock of your specific needs builds a foundation for finding the staffing partner that offers the best fit and value.

MetaProcure offers comprehensive workforce management services. Click here for more information on how we can optimize your contingent labor implementation. For an overview of the benefits available for companies that embrace an agile workforce, see our previous post.


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