Beeline Customer Summit: Services Procurement Trends and Maturity in Asia Pacific (Dispatch 6)

Please click here for Dispatch 4 and Dispatch 5 of this series.

Concluding our look at trends in contingent workforce and broader services procurement management in the Asia Pacific region (courtesy of the Beeline team), we'll quickly examine the Chinese market. According to Beeline, China is a "very immature market with no real case studies of fully integrated MSP solutions with VMS." From a functional capability, there are only three VMS providers in the market capability of supporting Mandarin (simplified) today: FieldGlass, IQNavigator and Beeline. But it's not like they're getting much business in the region yet, as the general contingent environment is challenging to VMS/MSP models with, as Beeline suggests, suppliers operating at sub 5% margins on a regular basis.

Moreover, Chinese "supplier capability and ability to access technology is low, and there is little experience in managing projects," Beeline suggests. However, the staffing market is quite well developed in other ways, although not in the manner we're accustomed to in the West. In a University of Illinois law journal, Feng Xu, a professor in the department of political science at the University of Victoria, Canada, suggests, "the industry rests on a triangular employment relationship amongst a private employment agency, employees, and the corporate customer. Like temporary staffing agencies in the West, the private employment agency in China dispatches its employees to work for the corporate customer, and the corporate customer pays the agency a fee in exchange for the labor of the employees and the staffing service it receives."

Part of the difference is that in China, according to Professor Xu, "supporters of the industry see it as a cost-cutting, human resource-management tool as well as a policy tool for solving unemployment." Yet, "Its critics consider the industry as a means for companies to make workers more 'flexible' with fewer protections." Still, it's a market where the major Western staffing players are increasingly building capabilities. Dr. Xu notes that Randstad, Manpower, Adecco, and Kelly Services all have capabilities in the region. The major VMS providers including IQNavigator, Fieldglass and Beeline have all been brought in to some degree based on their staffing and MSP relationships, although it is safe to assume that VMS penetration is, on the whole, extremely nascent.

Editor's Note: This article previously stated that the only two VMS providers localized for the Chinese market were Fieldglass and IQNavigator. Beeline is also available in simplified Chinese. We have corrected this oversight..

- Jason Busch

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