“The best thing you can do for your vendor is to treat them as a strategic partner.” That’s the advice from VectorVMS Senior SMS Program Manager, Cindy Chunn in her webinar, ‘Putting the Vendor Back in Vendor Management: Strategies for Success’.
Vendors are vital for any contingent labor program to be successful. Why? It’s simple! They supply one of the main components of the program: the talent. Imagine a situation where you can’t perform your job well due to no-shows or underperforming workers. A simple solution would be to rely on your vendors to bring you the talent you need—when you need it.
Because vendor performance is so important, it’s easy to see why a strong relationship with your vendors is imperative. To build that relationship, you need to foster a feeling of trust between yourself and your top vendors. But with all the noise that inherently comes with the staffing industry, you may be asking yourself what’s the best way to do that. In this article, we highlight the three key steps you need to take to evolve your relationship with your vendors from tactical to strategic, helping you forge a true partnership.
Step 1) Identify Your Vendor Population
While this may seem simple, many organizations find that trying to nail down all their vendors is like herding sheep. Without a formal process or Vendor Management System (VMS), it’s very difficult to ensure that only vetted vendors are supplying your program.
This is why we find that defining your vendor population typically comes right after you’ve procured a VMS or after you have implemented a VMS and are ready to whittle down your vendor list to your top performers. To identify your vendor population, we recommend one of the choices below:
- Funnel Approach: This is most commonly used for those new to vendor management or just implementing a VMS. You start with all of your vendors and funnel out those not willing to sign your MSA Managed Service Agreement.
- Experience Approach: This is used for programs that know their vendor spend and performance, and they only include their top vendors in the program.
- Request For Information (RFI): You can also send out an RFI to your vendors and make your selections based on their responses.
Regardless of which approach you take, you’re kickstarting your partnerships by identifying which vendors you want to build relationships with.
You might also like: ‘What Is a Vendor Management System and Do I Need One?’
2. Define the Relationship
No, you don’t need to make it ‘Facebook official’. But you do need to put set policies and procedures in front of your vendors to ensure they understand the terms of your relationships. A clearly defined set of roles and responsibilities will keep yourself and the vendors accountable for holding up their sides of the partnership.
To do this, we recommend that you have both a well-defined Managed Service Agreement (MSA) and Service Level Agreement (SLA). Your MSA will define the terms of your agreement and your SLA will outline the service you expect.
When writing your SLA, you want to make sure it has the expectations of the level of service your require, These items might include things like:
- Time to fill
- Candidate quality
- Compliance adherence
- Maximum candidate submittals
Use this documentation to ensure you and your vendor have the same expectations of your relationship.
More from the blog: ‘Implementing a VMS: 13 Things to Accelerate ROI’
3. Execute Your Agreed-Upon Business Plan
Now that you’ve clearly defined the mutual expectations between yourself and your vendor, it’s time to execute on your agreed-upon plan. This goes beyond just putting out the requisitions and your vendors providing you the talent. To have a true partnership, you need to have regular correspondence with your staffing suppliers. This will ensure you’re both working together to make your programs successful.
Some ways our clients work with their vendors include:
- Vendor Scorecard Reviews
- Compliance Audits
- Regular Vendor Summits
These events allow time for you to provide feedback to your vendors about how they’re adhering to your standards as well as allowing vendors to provide feedback about what’s going well and where they feel your program can improve to drive efficiencies.
Final Word on Partnering With Your Staffing Suppliers
Vendors are pivotal in your program’s success. To make the most out of your relationship with your vendors you need to look beyond the transactional nature of your relationship and build a mutually beneficial partnership.
To do this you need to outline who your top vendors are, ensure all vendors understand what is expected in the relationship, and maintain open lines of communication to provide and receive feedback on how the program is evolving. By investing in your vendors you’re further investing in the success of your contingent labor program.