Services Spend Watch: Two Quick Tips For Getting the Most From Your MSP

I've been doing a significant amount of research of late in preparation for an upcoming deep-dive series on the services procurement market (more on this tomorrow). My research had me speaking with dozens of practitioners, VMS (vendor management system) providers, and MSPs (managed services providers) about what they see as working (and not working) with the programs they're either managing or engaging in currently. On the practitioner side, I've had the chance to talk to both procurement and HR-types who are running contingent programs for their companies (this itself presents a great subject for further exploration some other time). What I've learned from both customers of contingent workforce programs as well as the providers that serve them are two quick tips that will almost universally hold true regardless of industry, organization, or geography.

The first tip could not be easier: carefully understand -- and articulate -- the ideal role of the MSP throughout the lifecycle of a contingent program. For example, while it most certainly is the contractual responsibility of an MSP to act as an intermediary between your organization and staffing companies, MSPs are not necessarily the ones who can best serve the internal role of interfacing with the business, evangelizing on the role and potential of contingent programs that help them as well as shareholders. Moreover, the verdict is also out on whether it's a best practice to have an MSP serve as a PMO Lead for contingent programs as well. Bottom line: know where MSPs can help, and engage their services. But don't punt on your obligations to get involved in contingent programs, especially as it pertains to working with business stakeholders.

The second tip I'll leave you with today focuses on how to best maximize savings from contingent workforce programs. It, too, is simple: from Day One, challenge your MSP -- not to mention your VMS provider supporting a contingent workforce program -- to show you how you stack up against others in the market, to better understand your own savings and performance-improvement opportunities. Don't just wait for monthly or quarterly meetings to review a set of reports; ask them from the start for their impressions about what it will take to maximize program returns. While qualitative intelligence will eventually give way to quantitative insights as more program data becomes available, by focusing your partner in this way, you'd be surprised at how quickly they begin to offer the type of input you'll need to get the best results. Don't wait for your MSP to prod you with information after the fact; push them from the start.

Jason Busch

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