How to Get the Most Out of Your Strategic Sourcing Partners

Each year, at the Contingent Staffing Conference hosted by ProcureCon, procurement professionals gather to share knowledge and insights on best practices in managing the contingent workforce.

The conference aims to help companies build and power a winning people strategy—through effective management of contingent labor, top-notch staffing suppliers, and the best technologies and processes for growth, talent engagement, and business analytics.

At the 2019 ProcureCon in Minneapolis, Taylor Ramchandani, product manager of the VectorVMS vendor management technology, participated in a panel discussion that flipped the script.

Taylor Ramchandani of VectorVMS joins a panel of contingent labor experts at ProcureCon 2019

She joined four experts who span the contingent labor ecosystem: buyers, staffing suppliers, and vendor management technology providers. The panel focused on how companies can become a client of choice among their staffing suppliers and vendor management technology providers.

Here are the top takeaways from the panel experts on how companies can get the most out of their strategic sourcing providers.

What Does It Mean to be a Client of Choice?

A client of choice is one for whom vendor management providers can do their best work. At its best, the relationship between client and supplier transcends transactional business and evolves into a strategic partnership.

Most of the time, clients focus on their expectations: What they need from a VMS provider, what they need from staffing providers, what they need from an MSP or contingent management services provider.

After all, they’re the buyer, right?

By flipping the question, companies can gain an understanding of what their providers need in order to most effectively source and manage contingent labor on their behalf. They can also benefit from a deeper understanding of how the supporting VMS technologies work.

The more your suppliers know, the better they can meet your program’s and company’s objectives. The end result: faster sourcing, higher quality talent and better cultural fit, lower risk, and more efficient operations.

That’s a win win, and then some.

How Can Clients Attract Top-Tier Vendors to Support Their Contingent Workforce Program?

Everyone knows how competitive the talent market is today. It only makes sense that companies who want the best talent—fast and at a competitive rate—need the best suppliers.

To get the best suppliers and get the most out of them, less is more.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the panelists all agreed that companies get better candidates when they carefully curate their vendor population rather than adding more and more staffing suppliers. This gives each vendor a greater chance of placing candidates, creating an incentive for them to bring their best talent to your open requisitions.

Remember, your staffing suppliers aren’t working only with your procurement, HR, or contingent workforce program team. They’re working directly with hiring managers across your organization. To find contingent workers who will succeed in your organization, they need to understand the skills needed, work requirements and culture, hiring manager preferences, and more.

If you have too many suppliers, hiring managers will struggle to develop and maintain that level of knowledge and partnership across all your vendors. And when hiring managers aren’t engaged and responsive to suppliers, suppliers will take their best candidates elsewhere.

The panelists also recommended soliciting feedback from vendors on your VMS technology and your program. Not only does this support your goal of cultivating a strategic partnership, it also creates an opportunity for the company to benefit from the advice of experts.

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What Do Strategic Sourcing Vendors Need to Align and Partner with Clients?

Above all else, transparency.

All five panelists agreed that transparency is paramount when working with vendors.

How can clients make that happen? Here are a few specific tactics:

  • Schedule regular meetings and check-ins to ensure suppliers remain aligned on your needs.
  • Track and share program analytics so each vendor knows how their performance stacks up.
  • Be clear about your budget so staffing suppliers can focus efforts on candidates whose rates are a match.
  • Be clear about your priorities in terms of cost, quality, and time-to-fill.

By maintaining regular and open communication, your strategic sourcing vendors will be able to respond faster and better to requisitions and program changes.

How Can Clients Deploy Technology and Manage Contingent Labor with a Human Touch?

According to recent industry research from Spend Matters, 70% of contingent workforce programs are looking to migrate their program management in-house.

But companies making this shift can still seize the advantages of VMS technology to automate compliance and streamline processes. The best approach is to find a VMS provider who also offers tailored services to augment your in-house contingent labor management team.

With a hybrid or shared managed services (SMS) approach to contingent workforce management, the company can control the strategy and directly manage any aspects of the contingent labor lifecycle that are crucial to their operating model or company culture. And they can outsource day-to day-tasks such as billing and invoicing, giving their in-house program team more time for strategic planning.

The SMS model is ideal for developing a strategic partnership with your technology provider. The services team will coordinate and lead regular meetings, advise on system optimizations, and ensure that you—the client—gain full value from technology innovations as your program evolves.

Want more best practices for optimizing your contingent workforce program? Check out our insights for procurement, HR, and contingent labor professionals.