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Hybrid MSPs: The way of the future

In my last article, “The Global Myth [1],” I questioned whether any MSP had truly “multinational” capabilities, raising the possibility of a hybrid approach instead. Hybrid solutions, those using multiple MSPs and other staffing services, offer many possibilities, permutations and potential benefits to buying organizations. They are fast becoming more practical as the technologies that facilitate their operation become more advanced, less cumbersome to implement and easier to use, leading to greater adoption.

Here, I provide a high-level overview of the numerous hybrid possibilities available today and visualize the most significant multinational hybrid program possible.

Although hybrid solutions are likely the future and could be significantly rewarding to all parties, they are by definition complex to conclude and deploy. They will be challenging in terms of consultation with stakeholders, program design, pricing, contracts, implementation, steady-state delivery, reporting and optimization, so be prepared to invest to realize the rewards. (An earlier article of mine, “You get what you pay for: When ‘cheap’ labor becomes too costly [2],” holds true in this regard.)


First, consider how you might structure such a program. Apart from the numerous delivery model permutations that your MSP may engage on your behalf, there is the added variant of whether you apply different models:

Here are some of the many delivery channels and services that this hybrid MSP could provide:

Master vendors: These services could be provided by the MSP sister company, in which case more of the revenue would be retained by the parent organization, resulting in more competitive fees. Alternatively, the MSP could oversee a master vendor provided by an associated third-party provider.

Preferred supplier lists: The MSP could oversee any number of preferred supplier lists aligned to the needs of the business and the choice automated at the point of requisition by rules built within the VMS. Preferred supplier lists can be margin/markup-based or they could be competitively bid where the suppliers are focusing on the end bill rate and have the ability to make more or less margin individual placements. Competitively bid preferred supplier lists can be highly beneficial where the required skills are in reasonable supply and where pay rates are not governed by pay parity legislation.

Sub-MSPs: In situations where organizations prefer to have multiple MSPs, it is possible to appoint your master MSP in the role of oversight and reporting of activity of sub MSP providers, giving this hypothetical organization the opportunity of “one throat to choke.”

Worker tracking: The activity of ensuring all contingent workers are visible and engaged in a compliant manner. Worker tracking is particularly valuable where there are low volumes and where it is not cost-effective to provide a full end-to-end MSP service.

Payroll: Providing the option to payroll contingent workers that are sourced through nonpreferred suppliers. Although this is not an ideal situation, desirable individuals often are provided speculatively by unapproved channels. A mandated payroll service allows for the end client to benefit from engaging these individuals in a compliant manner and on competitive terms.

Directs: Similar to payroll, providing the option to engage contingent workers in a compliant manner and on competitive terms where they have been sourced directly by the business.

Statement of work: Undertaking the procurement process of bidding SOWs, appointing providers, monitoring milestones/deliverables and eventually optimizing the supply chain for future engagements.

Human cloud: Engaging workers using any number of technologies such as freelancer management systems, just-in-time and Crowdsourcing platforms to drive efficiencies and reach the growing number of candidates using these new methods of finding work in the gig economy.

Although not exhaustive, the above examples provide an idea as to how a single MSP could theoretically deploy multiple delivery models across multiple territories, business units and skill sets and deliver and entire multinational contingent workforce.

It is technology that will enable such complex hybrid solutions to become a reality. If you can think it, it will likely happen … one day!