Today, many buying organizations claim to have a “global” MSP and in turn, many MSP organizations speak of being “global” in their service capability, or of providing MSP services to buying organizations “globally.”

With that said, I would like to  go on the record here to say the word “global” in the staffing industry is not only overused, but its use demonstrates a lack of understanding of the world.

In fact, many of the world’s largest organizations are not global themselves.

Without getting into a debate over what is a country and what is not, let’s agree that there are nearly 200 countries in the world today. Each of these countries has its own culture, ways of doing business — and each presents its own unique challenges when it comes to staffing.

Back to my opinion on the use of “global”: The term I actually prefer to use — and think is more accurate — is multinational.

If we peel away the overarching “global” statement, we are likely to be left with a situation where buying organizations and MSPs are engaging in service delivery across multiple countries, but not truly globally. Still, many buying organizations seek out MSPs on the basis of their touted global offerings.

The allure. Generally speaking, the key driver behind this is the notion that there will be a seamless service delivery based on the continual education gained from a phased rollout, and, of course, having just “one throat to choke.”

The challenge though, is essentially twofold:

  1. Does and can the MSP provide the expertise needed in each of the countries in which the buying organization needs staffing services?
  2. Is the MSP able to deliver a truly multicountry service, given the challenges it may face with its competing internal structures for resources and their need to hit regional/divisional budget and P&L targets?

Of course, there will be situations where an MSP can indeed rise to those challenges, especially where the number of countries involved is limited. However, things become much trickier when the number of countries becomes numerous and very different from each other in terms of both culture and the plethora of labor legislation that exists around the world today.

Let’s face it, organizations that seek to put in place a single MSP across the world, often struggle themselves to operate as a single joined up entity across this very same planet.

Locational alignment. So, like the buying organization itself, the MSP service provision must be aligned to the needs, drivers and individual nuances of each individual country. While it is, of course, a great idea to replicate as many common processes as possible, adoption is far more likely where individual countries’ needs are not only listened to, but accepted — so long as they support the overall corporate objectives.

So, the appointment of multiple MSPs, along with other staffing solutions within a hybrid multinational strategy to deliver talent into your organization (aligned to Staffing Industry Analysts’ Quality, Efficiency, Costs and Risk Framework), might actually be a preferable (or even essential) strategy to ultimately improve the overall competitiveness of the buying organization in its chosen markets.

When single works. It is possible to appoint a single MSP entity that has differing levels of involvement around the world. For example, the MSP may be intrinsically involved in providing master vendor services in the US and yet provide just reporting and governance oversight of any number of sub-MSPs (or other staffing solutions) elsewhere. In this situation, the best of both worlds is achieved by having services delivered that are best aligned to the individual countries, while at the same time having a single MSP providing ultimate oversight of the sub-MSPs and working with you to drive continuous improvement across your overall multinational program.

As for technology, a single VMS can provide a single point of visibility of multi-MSP activity, and other technologies available today can pull from multiple technology systems to give an alternative view of your holistic workforce around the world.

Hybrid solutions that involve multiple MSPs and other staffing services 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.