What Should a Vendor Management System (VMS) Functional Footprint Cover?

We often do a very poor job at Spend Matters explaining things in as few words as possible. Such is the curse of liking to opine and the danger of being fast at typing. When it comes to services procurement and contingent workforce management, we certainly have a lot to say on the subject (we'll link to some of our research available for download at the end of this post). But we've generally done a poor job of defining, in basic terms, elementary things as the elements that should comprise a vendor management system. At the recent Consol event, Forrester's Stephanie Moore did a good job at capture eight of the basic elements of a VMS:

  1. "View and manage the services catalog"
  2. "Invoice automatically"
  3. "Manage the requisition workflow"
  4. "On and off boarding compliance"
  5. "Compare rates"
  6. "Spend visibility, reporting analytics"
  7. "Set of master agreements, rates terms and conditions"
  8. "Track time and approval workflows"

We suggest a bit wordier list of items in our own research on the subject (but I personally think Forrester does a better job of capturing some of the basics more simply):

  1. Full lifecycle support for contingent spend management
  2. Statement of work (SOW) support and depth
  3. Built around co-owned (MSP and company) deployment and management
  4. Tight integration with my back-end systems (e.g., core financials, credentialing, electronic invoicing)
  5. Tight integration with business applications and functional systems (e.g., e-sourcing, eProcurement, human capital management, supply risk management, contract management)
  6. Global capabilities and proof points
  7. Basic reporting and canned reporting/trending to support periodic reviews (and benchmarking)
  8. Advanced analytics, visualization and OLAP capability to go beyond canned reports
  9. Full lifecycle support for broader services categories (optional)

In addition, we believe other additional requirements are sometimes important, including support for:

  • Specific compliance initiatives (from basic, such as co-employment; to more advanced, based on contracting arrangements, geographies, and documentation requirements)
  • Physical security, IP security, and overall credentialing (authorization, management, revocation, and declinations) based on industry, role, facilities, etc. and integration with billing processes
  • Meeting complex, global requirements (beyond language, currency and tax/jurisdictional issues) and providing reporting capabilities and insight to support global accounting/tax/ transfer pricing requirements

Regardless of how you define the core elements a VMS support, it's clear that visibility, control, compliance, reporting, process integration and benchmarking are essential. If you're curious, we encourage you to explore some of our foundational (and free) Compass research reports on the subject (as well as our more targeted Perspectives, which you can find elsewhere on the site).

Selecting Services Procurement Technology – Options, Approaches, and Philosophy

Services Spend -- Beyond Contingent Labor: Achieving And Implementing Savings Across Previously Unmanaged Categories

Making Procurement a Services Spend Ally: Tips and Tactics for Winning over Business Stakeholders and Spend Owners

The Managed Services Connection -- The Evolving Role of MSPs in Services Procurement

- Jason Busch

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