When the VMS/MSP trend became popular, program managers pushed hard to keep suppliers from having direct contact with the hiring managers in efforts to avoid rogue spend. At that point, some good suppliers were edged out of programs because their model didn’t support this kind of blind sourcing of candidates. Suppliers that didn’t always have much business with the company benefited greatly as they adapted to delivering a commoditized service. As programs evolved, and program adoption within the companies increased, even departments that were originally exempt from the rules began to find ways to bring their old favorite suppliers into the fold.

When faced with an existing client moving to a VMS/MSP model, many suppliers feel they have only two options: to accept the terms of the agreement or walk away from the business. The demons that most high-touch suppliers are haunted by include perceptions of no-contact with the hiring managers, needing to respond to all requisitions regardless of whether or not they are their specialty, and agreeing to payment terms that negatively affect the rest of the business. MSPs have pressures to deliver top talent as do the suppliers they are depending on for delivery. More and more, the standard business practices driving a program are evolving with practices that are less egregious yet still manage to support timeliness, efficiency, cost-effectiveness and risk mitigation.

And one of those evolutions is the “no contact” engagements to engagements with tools that facilitate more consistent feedback and question answer forums. There may not be any more roaming the halls to shop for more requirements and build relationships, but there are many communication options the MSP is encouraged to facilitate. The suppliers that maximize the communication vehicles afforded them through the program, and help the MSP to deliver the best candidates (especially in those niche categories) will be surprised that the MSP doesn’t have to be the enemy. The MSP needs loyal suppliers to give their best candidates to every requisition in their category.

The MSP uses supplier score cards to evaluate supplier performance. The criteria that suppliers are scored should mirror much of the MSP’s own score card criteria. They depend on suppliers to deliver quality candidates within the agreed cost structure, while mitigating any engagement risk. The quality of the supply chain should weigh heavy on their score card.

As you implement a VMS/MSP model to manage your contingent labor, be prepared to evolve and set expectations with your provider and internal hiring managers about how things may change, but vary the change based on the value achieved. Where you need more “touch” make room in the program for exceptions that allow the hiring manager to get the best and expect your MSP to manage the differences across your program.