Taking a hard look at staffing supplier programs is one of the top priorities for organizations. It’s not just about understanding existing suppliers but also examining new suppliers and how they might expand your supply chain’s value.

And with thousands of these organizations potentially looking for new business, it can be difficult to find a process that enables you to review them fairly while not adding a tremendous burden to your vendor management team. Developing strategic ways to evaluate potential new suppliers can yield positive results going forward.

Contingent workforce program managers likely receive countless cold calls, inmails, emails and other types of outreach from these organizations, all trying to find a way into your program. With this never-ending bombardment of interest, how do you recognize the needle in the haystack?

Take Time to Listen

The first place to start is to answer the calls and listen to the pitch. These don’t have to be long conversations and should be approached with some structure. The calls should have multiple objectives: explaining the process that has been established for new vendors to be considered; sharing the operating environment including the core expectations of cost, quality, volume and timeliness; and listening to their brief pitch focused on their differentiators.

If there is some common alignment of expectations, collect some marketing material, contact info and a capabilities statement that you can hold on to until the timing is right.

Some organizations may consider new suppliers outside of a formal sourcing event, but it is likely that even potential suppliers that are most aligned with your program’s needs still will need to wait until a request for proposal (RFP) is issued in order to be evaluated in compliance with standard procurement practices. These suppliers may be waiting for several years for that event, but it doesn’t mean they have no value to the organization until that point. By understanding each vendor’s specialization or potential application in the program, you can easily create an index or searchable collection of these suppliers and the potential value they contribute. Should a gap in your existing active supply base become apparent, this becomes an amazing test market of suppliers that may target your exact need. Consider how you can trial these organizations through an agent of record arrangement to see if their performance meets your standard. This could be a low-risk, low-expectation way to close skillset gaps without the lengthy full contracting process required for longer-term partnerships.

Consider an RFI

When it comes time to formally run your RFP for staffing suppliers, consider a brief request for information. This broader procurement event will help provide all of the staffing providers that have shown interest with a quick way to show their capabilities before committing to a full review of their services. There is often little room for new suppliers, so it is important to make sure that the best suppliers are identified and aligned to your business. This RFI should focus on your highest-level requirements such as diversity status, industry/regional alignment, previous experience with your company, and most importantly, differentiation.

Having suppliers that all act and operate in the same way may limit the coverage you can provide your business. Use this event to find the vendors that are taking unique approaches with positive results. This RFI will give these vendors consideration and may also reveal items that could inform the RFP event to follow.

These simple steps could help you take control of supplier solicitations and give these prospective vendors the right information to know if they should continue pursuing your vendor program. While this will take some time to interact with these suppliers, if done correctly, it could add incredible value to your supplier network and give your teams the structure they need to appropriately interact with the ongoing contact from these suppliers.