Having worked as a managed services provider (MSP) for a large part of my career and now being in a privileged position where I advise them, one thing that has become clear to me is that both hiring managers and suppliers really don’t need to go around a CW program. I’m not saying they should just stick within the rules no matter what. Rather, I am saying the MSP and the program office can simplify processes so that no “rules” are broken. Here are some scenarios that trigger rogue spend and how these developments can be averted by the CW Program office.

The “no-contact” rule. Suppliers are asked not to get in touch with hiring managers to discuss requisitions, etc., and vice versa.

It’s not so much about breaking the rule. In this case, does the rule really have to be all things to all people? Let’s look at easy-to-fill positions, such as admin/clerical roles, Q&A testers, some lower-level professional positions, etc. In this case, where your hiring manager is engaging a whole group of the same people, it makes sense to have suppliers adhere to the no contact policy.

But in a different scenario involving high-skilled, project management, and analytical jobs that require very specific skills, it makes sense for the supplier to be able to talk to the hiring manager and have a better understanding of the team’s requirements. This can be facilitated by the MSP via conference calls, chat features in the VMS and email communication. Structured time between the hiring manager and supplier will lead to better return on the investment that the company is making with these high-skilled requisitions.

It is the program office’s responsibility to administer this. The productivity that the company gains from having a program in place is lost if not managed. It starts with the hiring manager talking to the program office, which then has the MSP step in.

Speak up if you have a candidate. Often, hiring managers have a candidate in mind even before a requisition is filed, and they are expected to talk to the program office.

But hiring managers get busy, or they are reluctant to approach the program office for various reasons. To avoid this, schedule regular meetings with your internal stakeholders who rely heavily on the program. These managers will be more than happy to meet you half way. Managers who need to approach the program office but are reluctant to do so will be more than happy that you have taken the initiative and work with you on the best way to engage the talent they want for their position. The program office is now considering different options, including running the preferred worker through a payroll firm, which allows for lower margins, helping you and your company.

Forcing niche providers into the MSP. Niche providers often work around the program because they won’t sign up with an MSP.

These suppliers have the talent needed to make your projects a success. The program office needs to understand this and talk to the MSP to get them on board. You need to work out a smarter way to engage these suppliers, one that meets the needs of both parties to get the right resource in the door and maintains the transparency the managed program offers. One way would be to have the MSP reach out to these niche providers and work out an agreement to engage in a tiered process for certain skill sets, allowing them to have the first shot at filling the roles before reaching out to all other suppliers.

Rate cards are there for a reason. Respect them.

In some cases, the rate card doesn’t fit the needs of the hiring manager. Maybe it’s a critical project that needs to be fast-tracked and a higher rate of pay is warranted because the company will benefit in other ways when the project is completed. Perhaps the skill set needed wasn’t foreseen and is not on the rate card at all. Your program should have an escalation process in place to justify accepting rates that go beyond your rate. And you should ensure hiring managers know such a process exists. While not all exemption requests will be approved, knowing a clear process exists will help keep hiring managers from trying to circumvent the program.