In this first part of a three-part series, we examine some common MSP program challenges, potential solutions and ways to increase the overall value of a contingent workforce program to an organization.

Recently, I worked with two separate clients that were in different stages of program maturity but were both looking to transform their contingent workforce practices by implementing new managed service provider (MSP) programs:

  • Client A had never established a centralized MSP program and was seeking new ways to mitigate contingent workforce risks, enforce policy and improve processes.
  • Client B’s program was in its fifth year. It had MSP programs with two separate providers and had decided to implement a new version of its program under a new, single provider.

In both cases, the clients posed the same question, one asked by so many others throughout the years: How do we continue to realize value from the managed service program (MSP)? While the answer is somewhat unique to each client, there are four points that must be addressed prior to determining program value proposition. This article addresses the first two.

1. What is your current state? Very few clients assess current state in a structured enough way and in a frequent enough cadence to allow them to actually measure program maturity. A program maturity assessment can help you understand if the program is sustainable, comprehensive, governed, strategic and measurable. Once you understand where your program ranks in these key areas, you can decide what the most valuable next step is in your program evolution.

Program tenure has little to do with program maturity if the company, along with its program partners, have not executed to a maturity roadmap. Many of the earliest adopters are surprised to find that they are low on the maturity curve. Whatever a program’s age, those who perform regular, current state assessments inclusive of maturity measures will be able to set attainable goals and realize continued value.

2. What is our ideal state? Many companies fail to invest the resources to understand the must-have requirements from a wide range of end-users and stakeholders, which ultimately impacts their ability to secure and maintain executive buy-in from a structured cross-functional governance team. As a result, there is limited organizational visibility into program current state, long-term goals, vision or mission. You should understand that governance teams do not need to be complicated or require a lot of time and are critical to maintaining the momentum needed to keep focus on program goals. Program maturity models are less meaningful if they do not fit into a company’s overarching strategy and are not well understood by key business stakeholders.

Until you have answered the above two questions by measuring current state inclusive of assessing maturity, and implemented both a program maturity roadmap and a cross-functional governance team, it is easy for any third-party MSP to lose visibility into client expectations and fail to evolve to achieve the ideal future state. It is also impossible to answer the frequently asked and very important question regarding maintaining MSP program value: “How do we continue to realize value from the managed service program (MSP)?”

The second part of this series will explore the next two questions that need to be addressed — how to get from your current to ideal state and why you should invest in program maturity — as well as discuss new trends in program maturation, such as total talent management and workforce mix modeling.