Using HR management skills to advance trust, communication, and training.
By Paul Petersen
In order for an organization to receive maximum benefit from a managed services program (MSP), HR needs to help drive broad adoption of the MSP program across departments.
One of the best ways to do this is to use HR management skills to cultivate a successful “three-way street” relationship among the practitioner, the provider, and the supplier
HR professionals typically gain the trust of both employees and management by perfecting the art of balancing their differing needs. With your MSP and supplier community, you should strive to do the same. As MSP programs have matured, they’ve gone beyond the general administrative and IT categories to expand their offerings to include niche suppliers within categories previously not included in the MSP program. However, it is still a work-in-progress when it comes to process issues.
While the MSP relationship is generally one of mutual respect, a few sensitive topics periodically cause tension. For instance, some staffing suppliers feel that MSPs prevent them from directly soliciting candidate feedback from you and your hiring managers. At the same time, MSPs feel that some suppliers aren’t completely committed to refraining from fulfilling orders outside their program—usually through a combination of hiring manger instruction and a recruiter’s desire to fulfill the request. Although some of these issues are sore spots within the program, they can be turned into a win-win-win for all involved if you engage the supply base as allies in the hiring process.
Additionally, as an advocate for the success of the MSP program in your organization, you can provide support by working with management to help develop processes that allow for the unique fulfillment requirements of these categories.
Helping to remove a “one-size-fits-all” mentality within the MSP will give hiring managers the comfort level they require and allow for broader adoption of the program within their respective categories.
While the ultimate goal of MSP and supplier are identical—to provide you with the right contingent employee in the right place, at the right time, and for the right value—it is important for you to communicate clearly with your suppliers. Doing so will help you engage them as allies to ensure that your specific goals are met.
Suppliers are very sensitive to the fact that, despite the many benefits of implementing a vendor management system (VMS) or MSP, hiring is still a human process. They’d like to avoid dehumanizing it as much as possible. End users should clearly articulate the job requirements (such as technical skills required) to suppliers; this will help ensure that the scope of services is correctly aligned in the MSP tool.
Taking another example from today’s digital creative world, many marketing and creative departments have mobile app developers, front end developers and user experience designers on their teams. However, these roles are often miscategorized in the vendor management tool into IT categories or other program categories that are not open to creative suppliers (thus limiting the most qualified suppliers’ ability to assist in fulfilling those requirements).
To address these crossover areas, consider creating a separate category within the system to allow for special visibility. Working with your suppliers to create new processes such as these will mean that open requirements will get filled quickly—a key for anyone using an MSP.
Train and Develop
HR professionals are experts at coaching and developing employees. Ultimately, for an MSP program to succeed in your organization, you must work with the hiring managers to educate them on the importance of working with the system rather than working around the system.
For many hiring managers, it’s difficult to determine the most effective use of in-house employees, independent contractors, freelancers, and staffing firm employees. Additionally, the use of a contingent workforce is still a new business approach in many departments. Many hiring managers tend to think in terms of adding internal staff or using their own network of independent contractors, rather than identifying ways to harness the power of a contingent workforce.
Ultimately, it is key to train hiring managers across your organization to ask the following questions:
• How much control do you want to have over the daily work?
• How much do you need to be able to scale up and down with changes
in your business?
Discovering the answers to these questions can help hiring managers better assess how to allocate the resources available to them. Specifically, as more hiring managers begin to understand that they can shift spend away from freelancers or independent contractors to a highly scalable, flexible, and expert workforce that can work on mission-critical projects, adoption of the program will most certainly increase.
Implementing a VMS/MSP in your organization has many benefits, but in the end, broad cross-department adoption of the program is the key to its success. If you cultivate trust between suppliers and MSPs, clearly communicate with your suppliers, and train and develop your internal teams, you can help build a successful MSP relationship.
Paul Petersen is vice president of MSP channel partnerships with Aquent.