In our Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey, managed services providers achieved a net promoter score of -3, indicating that buyer organizations and specifically engagement managers (managers who are employed by the buyer of contingent workforce talent, products and services) have not been particularly fond of MSPs. Yet these providers have been in the contingent workforce management marketplace for more than 30 years. And MSP use among large buyers, according to our annual buyer survey, has hovered between 62% and 66% over the last few years.

Net Promoter Score

A net promoter score, or NPS, is the percentage of customers rating their likelihood to recommend a company, a product or a service to a friend or colleague. On a 10-point scale, with 10 being the most likely, the NPS is derived by subtracting the “detractors” (those responding with a six or below) from “promoters” (those responding nine or 10).

So, what is the path forward for the MSP? What can they do to add more value to the buyer, and what can the buyer do to encourage them to provide this level of care? I see several areas where the MSP can service CW programs if the program opens itself up to the options.

Move to total talent. A strong MSP can help buyers make total talent management a reality. Remember, total talent is on the minds of most buyers that SIA analysts speak with during the hundreds of calls we have monthly. But the fact is the TTM concept hasn’t gained traction due to disjointed and unorganized functional areas within the buyer organization. Buyers have been slow to adopt to total talent strategies because of things like ownership of the process, multiple systems of record, misalignment between FTE and non-FTE workers, to name a few.

This is where an effective MSP can come into play. MSPs have an opportunity to deliver and provide a single solution that connects buyers’ various systems into one overarching system of record and a single point of contact for all talent needs.

One point of contact. Today, managers can be confused by where to go and with whom to connect with for their various talent needs. These talent needs fall into the following categories:

  • Full-time employee
  • Staff augmentation worker
  • Independent contractor
  • Statement-of-work services
  • Statement-of-work projects

Enter the concierge service desk, which would solve many buyer organizations’ problems of misclassification and increased risk when the right talent channel is not selected. Via such a service, the MSP would be the central point of contact for these talent channels, which could be an additional value-add for buyers when selecting the operational service for their labor program.

White-glove service. For the MSPs to improve their market position, they need to find a way to remove as much burden from the hiring manager as possible. This is where a white-glove service comes in: pulling out onerous tasks that fall on the buyer. When we talk with buyer organizations and conduct program reviews via SIA’s Program Maturity Assessment, we see buyer managers carrying a heavy workload from a process perspective within CW programs. Going forward, the MSP game plan should align with a strategy of improved quality, increased efficiency, reduced cost and mitigation of risk.

On the buyer’s end, you need to be willing to let go of some of this control and allow for the MSP to take on and own some of these process steps. Take the time to map out each step of your CW program and determine who owns the process step and who has visibility to ensure these steps are being executed effectively. This will help the MSP to take on more work and provide more value to buyer organizations.

Technology investments. Over the past 12 to 18 months, there have been tremendous advancements within the staffing industry with bots and artificial intelligence. Bots are now effectively able to communicate in real time to the CW program ecosystem, and when used correctly by the MSP, the program will see economies of scale as they relate to headcount requirements. AI and machine learning are quickly gaining the ability and ultimately gaining the confidence to read, review and recommend winning resumes. AI also has the ability to begin to allow MSPs to focus their team on the strategic values and opportunities within a CW program as opposed to so much focus on the administrivia types of tasks.

We are also seeing new interviewing technologies designed to reduce bias, improve speed and potentially test candidates on their ability to do what the job requires.

New offerings. SIA is seeing a major uptick in direct-sourcing strategies among buyer organizations. MSPs will begin to play a part in delivering a solid value proposition for direct sourcing as well. Stay tuned.

MSPs can move the needle on their net promoter scores by making investments in not just new service offerings but technologies as well. Buyers, for their part, should consider what they would be willing to offload to their MSP and start having these conversations.

Done right, the evolved MSP can play a big part in helping the buyer delivering what it needs including providing oversight to all its talent channels.