MSP, Globalized

Insights about the worldwide workforce from a recruitment thought leader.

By Lisa Maxwell


I recently spoke with Teresa Creech, President MSP and CW Solutions at Randstad Sourceright U.S. about current trends in the globalization of managed service providers (MSP). Creech shared her views about this expanding sector of talent management and recruitment with cogent insights about developing strategies for emerging markets, the skills gap that must be overcome to implement an efficient solution for MSP, and the best practices for global MSP success.

What trends do you see in global MSP solution development?

It is a very now topic. Every company seems to be talking about it. In the last two years probably 80 percent of the RFPs that have hit the street for an outsource program have had some sort of global capability or component attached to them. Even if a company isn’t ready to do so yet, it is always a consideration in their selection process. Companies have realized that whether they are ready or not the world is moving that way and talent is moving that way.

Why are companies turning to global MSP solutions?

I find two things drive this. First, the company’s business is globalizing in some way, shape or form. Usually, they are looking at this as part of a centralization effort. Either this is part of a procurement function that is moving towards shared services/procurement to pay process that is global in scope. Or alternately, they are globalizing their human resources or talent strategy to take better advantage of regional talent. Sometimes, the project is a component of a bigger company initiative or cultural shift to try to centralize processes relevant to their core talent and business.

What ingredients are required to implement a global MSP?

When you start to think about globalizing a program with a topic as personal and emotionally charged as talent, it requires a few things: it requires someone with the authority to make it happen, a broad understanding of the business, the objectives of the business, the ability to look at regional nuances, and the ability to maneuver through a fairly complex adoption road. Adoption is very complex and requires a level of expertise that is not inherent in most companies and even in a lot of MSPs. This is new territory. There are fewer than 100 global MSPs. This includes both internal and external total global MSPs. I characterize global as hitting all three major regions of the world- Americas/EMEA/APAC.

What are some of the gaps in skills that you are seeing?

There are two primary ones. The first is an industry gap that has existed for a number of years now and that’s having core experience in procurement. As we start to see MSP programs expand into services procurement, project procurement, SOW, contracts- a different kind of expertise will be needed. In my organization, I will need to continue to bring in people with this kind of experience. Until recently, most MSP professionals have come out of staffing or human resources, but we will need to round that out with increased procurement expertise.

The second gap in skills that I have my eye on most closely is the concept of a talent strategist who provides workforce planning. If we step forward a few years, the notion of a unified strategy for both variable and fixed talent will become more closely tied together. Eventually, this alignment will become a single strategy. The notion of a talent strategist that could choose between finding full time talent or establishing a finite start and end to work would help businesses focus on deliverables by giving them the proper tools in the first place. The individual that can help a company decide which work product/work stream is very rare will require some development. Most of this does not exist inside of our customer’s companies and this is definitely an evolving trend.

What regions do you see as being more active right now? What countries are emerging?

North America, the United Kingdom and certain pockets of Asia-Pacific, such as Australia, are mature. There are quite a few programs now in Australia and because business is conducted similarly to both Western Europe and the U.S.

The emerging areas are China, Japan, India, Brazil, and Mexico. These are the regions that we are continually requested to address. These up and comers are really stretching themselves, stretching their providers, and most importantly stretching the supply chain in these particular countries.

What do you see as some of the challenges in countries where the staffing industry isn’t mature?

If you go into Mexico or Brazil and want to launch an extension of an MSP program or launch one from scratch, the biggest challenge you will find in that emerging market -beyond the fact that labor regulations are ambiguous or there has not been legislation to address programs like MSP -is supply chain adoption. Being able to go in and architect a solution that 1) you can get the supply chain to buy into and 2) that sets that supply chain up for success are definitely the biggest challenges MSP programs presently face.

How do you differentiate your strategy for those markets?

The key to being able to build an effective global program that has some emerging market component to it is to have a strong governance structure in place. The governance structure needs to do things like set the vision for the program, build the strategy, and build the appropriate objectives and compliance gate. All of those things come together to form this working methodology called “governance.” The structure needs to take into account a diverse set of specialists: talent, legal, tax, and risk and compliance roles -a mix of subject matter experts. Once this structure is in place, the key is not to go into a market with the mindset that one size fits all. You shouldn’t walk into Mexico and say, “This is how we do it in Canada, and this will work perfectly for you in Mexico.” You have to address local nuance. You can have global governance, but you will always need local expertise. To differentiate ourselves in addressing global solutions, we use this style of thinking as a framework when we are designing solutions for our clients.

What do you see as best practices in implementing a global MSP?

Let’s narrow them down to a few things: governance, utilization of local expertise, clear and well-defined objectives with all stakeholders buying in, objective benchmarks for measuring success, and optimization for evolving business needs. A lot of times folks take a lot of time to make these decisions, and then they want to run to implementation. My take is that we need to step back and literally spell out the vision, metrics, and risks so that the time to positive results is optimized.


Lisa Maxwell is the founder and managing partner for Gerard Stewart, an executive search firm specializing in HRO. She can be reached at 404-949-0391 or

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