Over the last couple of years, we at Staffing Industry Analysts have advocated for proper the use of quarterly business reviews to manage staffing and supply chain partner performance. With them, program managers can identify weak areas of supplier performance and develop improvement plans. While that remains an important management tool, it’s time to transform the performance management review into a more strategic component of overall partner management.

With that shift in focus, of course, requires a name change that signifies the broader strategic purpose and goals for these partner meetings. For the purposes of this article, I’ll call it the quality business review.

The idea behind this is to change the purpose of these meetings to be more strategic and less tactical.

Maturity begets strategy. Until just recently, performance data and transparency were very limited. Retrieving the data was a manual, laborious effort, making the meetings’ frequency quarterly at best. They were little more than a past-tense review that typically turned into miserable, tactical chats about low-impact transaction finger pointing — not a great partnership development experience.

But a large percentage of the CW programs have matured to the point where many have deployed performance scorecards with service-level agreements and key performance indicator metrics; some are driving analysis of this information into business intelligence dashboards for real-time support and performance management adjustments.

With such ready access to this kind of transparency and data, why would anyone wait 90 days to discuss and execute on it — especially if it is related to poor performance? Decision support is being expedited tactically, which enables program managers to review scorecard performance data on a more regular basis (perhaps weekly or even more frequently during high-volume business periods). Incidentally, if one deploys a real-time, “partner” dashboard, a partner might begin to resolve performance issues more readily and before the buyer has a chance to engage in a remedial discussion.

Improvement opportunities. But that doesn’t preclude the need to conduct meetings with your staffing and supply chain partners. Rather, their focus can shift to strategic items of business improvement initiatives and targeted outcomes such as: upcoming CW program changes, expansion and/or operation enhancements; new sourcing methods and methodologies; partner talent sourcing investments and service innovations; update on CW program initiatives and the role of the partners. It would be interesting seeing what new, strategic ideas are being considered that might enhance the capability of the CW Program and improve the service provided to the organization’s CW engagement managers.

The key is to create a more valuable dialog that enables both parties to focus on quality improvement of the business and future opportunities to build a more capable and highly valued CW program. If CW program managers are successful in creating a more strategic discussion and knowledge transfer, they might find themselves meeting more than quarterly because of the competitive improvement opportunities discovered.