No contingent workforce (CW) program can be successful without great, engaged staffing partners, and no staffing partner can be successful without great contingent workforce programs to support. Rating staffing suppliers is the norm. Less so suppliers evaluating programs. But times are changing and buyers need to be aware that their programs could be rated. Hence, a comprehensive performance metric tool is required to make sure all program stakeholders submit feedback.

Staffing partner quality. How does a contingent workforce program know if it has great staffing partners? Most programs have service level agreements (SLAs) and key performance metrics (KPIs) included in their staffing partner agreements and they will provide a results scorecard of each staffing partner’s performance. An SLA performance metrics is one in which the staffing partner has complete control of the outcome. These can include: how quickly resumes are presented to a requisition, how many resumes are submitted, etc. KPIs, meanwhile, measure overall success toward the CW program goals. These can include: number of interviews, number of hires, rate card compliance, etc. Performance scorecards can be presented monthly, quarterly or maybe even just annually (though that’s not recommended) to each staffing partner so it knows exactly how it is performing — not only individually but also compared with its competitors. The frequency usually depends on how difficult the metrics data is to capture, prepare and compile. With vendor management systems (VMS) providing more analytics and access to broad types of program management data, delivering performance scorecards is becoming second nature.

CW program quality. How does a staffing partner know if it is engaged with a great contingent workforce program? If your staffing partners were to measure your program’s performance, how do you think you would rank compared with other CW programs they engage in the market? Staffing partners are vying and delivering for multiple CW program business engagements across the marketplace. They have a unique market perspective on what CW management programs work and what programs don’t.

It’s been rare for a staffing supplier to require a CW program to hit certain SLA or KPI levels of effectiveness and production. However, the market is changing and with programs’ considering other options for recruiting talent, including increased direct sourcing and the introduction of freelancer management systems, staffing partners are looking at their business relationships differently. Understanding which clients are “successful” programs for their own business efforts is critical for staffing firms to remain profitable. So, if your staffing partners decided to give your program a capability/performance scorecard, would you remain on their list of programs that they want to continue to engage? Whether you have decided to direct-source or not, you will always need staffing partners, as no program can be 100% self-sufficient — yet.

Partnership considerations. There are many things staffing partners consider when determining whether they want to keep a client. How well are the resource requirements written? Do they provide accurate information or do they require several conversations or updated descriptions before candidates are considered? Once candidates are submitted, how long does it take for the client to let the staffing firm know if the candidate is being considered — if ever? There is nothing more frustrating for a recruiter and a candidate than the infamous client “black hole.”

When I was a recruiter, there were certain requisitions I would ignore — not because I didn’t think I could fill them or they weren’t a great opportunity, but because I knew I would never hear anything back from that client for my effort. Unresponsive clients not only hurt my chances of getting a placement but also hurt my reputation with my candidates. Considering this, is your program providing candidate feedback? Remember, feedback is necessary not only on submittals but after interviews. If you don’t provide feedback, you risk not receiving the best candidates possible as you have been put on a recruiters “poor performing” program list. While there is no “official” poor performing program list, it is a real conversation among recruiters.

Staffing partners track metrics after placement as well. How quickly clients approve timecards is an area of concern. Consistently having timecard-approval delays can affect contingent worker satisfaction with both your program and your staffing partners. What about your time to pay? Having reasonable time-to-pay terms — and adhering to them — may benefit your program, such as in getting better pay rates (as the staffing partner does not have to financially fund your payroll float), which can in turn attract better candidates. Staffing partners prefer to work with clients that pay on time and have reasonable business payment terms. Other scoring areas: the number of requisitions that are closed prior to filling and the number of assignments ended early, not based on contingent worker performance.

It might be an informative exercise to ask your staffing partners to provide a performance scorecard of your program. It might be scary if they have one at the ready, and believe me, they exist in the marketplace. But understanding critical areas where your program could improve will not only make your program more effective and responsive to staffing partner needs, but could very well make your organization’s leverage of CW resources more competitively profitable in the long run.