Back to Hub

Selecting the best VMS for your company means staying involved and looking beyond price

Choosing a vendor management system (VMS) or extended workforce management platform goes beyond merely selecting a technology platform to manage the logistical aspects of a company’s contingent workforce program.

In the same way companies choose other vital technology systems, choosing the right VMS is a strategic decision not only because of the many touchpoints it will have with all other departments and technologies but also due to the business-critical nature and growing size of the contingent workforce. And, the substantial financial commitment means it will likely be in place for a long time, so it should be an enterprise-class solution that can meet a company’s needs in the immediate term and in the future.

From a user perspective, the VMS is often the connection between your company, suppliers and contingent workers; so, it must provide an easy-to-use, positive experience. If users are not pleased with their VMS interactions, they may provide feedback, but it is more likely that they will quietly subvert your process, which can lead to greater risk, rogue spend and incomplete data.

Adopting the right technology to meet individual contingent workforce management needs keeps organizations competitive since VMS technology is the most common management solution, according to Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA). The 2021 SIA Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey found that 85% of the responding 105 companies (1,000 or more employees) have a VMS in place, and an additional 13% said they would seriously explore the technology within two years. While smaller companies may be slower to adopt, the technology still plays a pivotal role.

No matter which technology provider is the best match for your organization, a VMS provides tremendous business value. Selecting one can feel overwhelming.

How to ensure the best choice of VMS

While there is no one best way to make the decision, there are points to consider.

At many companies, the VMS becomes part of a solutions’ ecosystem that includes a managed services provider (MSP). In a perfect situation, the VMS and MSP work together, as equal partners filling the entirety of a company’s non-employee worker needs. Each provider is a specialist, performing different, but equally necessary roles that reduce cost, mitigate risk, improve efficiency, and monitor the quality of suppliers and workers. Companies should select each of their providers based on their specific expertise and alignment to their business goals.

If a company has chosen an MSP before selecting or replacing their VMS, turning the entire VMS selection decision over to them (or outside consultants) may seem like a safe and easy approach, but can sometimes result in less-than-optimal outcomes. MSPs can provide excellent advice during the VMS evaluation process however, maintaining an active role in VMS selection ensures your company’s needs – both present and future – are incorporated into the process.

MSPs may also offer to hold the contracts for a company’s VMS technology, but beware, as binding those together can pose future problems if either provider needs to change. As a company’s program matures, services from new providers may be required in new geographies or for new skill sets. Disentangling contracts can cause slow-downs in meeting workforce needs.

And if selecting both an MSP and VMS in parallel, ask, too, about the expertise an MSP has with various VMS technologies– and do the same with your VMS candidates, asking them about the MSPs. Most vendors have worked together in the past and should have insights to share that can better inform your evaluation. However, the final selection of the VMS and MSP should be made based on how well each meets your company’s needs and the expertise they will bring to your program.

Keep the focus on relationships and capabilities

Regardless of the selection process your company uses, remember that not all technology vendors are equal. Vendors that bring a partnership approach to the sales process are more likely to maintain that level of collaboration throughout your relationship. Transparent providers should willingly answer questions about and offer guidance on things like RFIs and RFPs, requirements check lists, ROI calculators, business case support, and customer success stories. A less frequent, but innovative benefit is access to a vendor’s solutions design team – they will take the time during the sales process to understand your needs and objectives, and then recommend the right products and workflows to meet your specific requirements.

According to a recent survey by industry analysts, companies looking for technology partners will trade price, and even speed, for stronger, more supportive partner relationships. The top five characteristics sought are:

  • Offers proactive collaboration to generate innovative solutions
  • Has well-respected service and support capabilities
  • Brings innovations from other industries to solutions
  • Is compatible with existing technology systems
  • Is configurable to accommodate specific processes and operations

Other important characteristics cited include providing clear and concise reasoning for recommendations, ability to clearly explain complex aspects of the technology, and always being prepared to support client needs.

Somewhat unexpectedly, the same survey found the least sought-after characteristics are lowest price, fastest results, well-reviewed by customers, and considered a “market leader.”

Beyond your final decision, there are distinct benefits to selecting a technology provider with a focus on continued partnership. Change and growth are inevitable, so when your technology needs to meet those demands in the future, having that relationship with your VMS provider makes it easier. And a true partner will focus on how to regularly optimize your contingent workforce program to meet your business goals; continually assessing your needs and bringing technology updates (and training) to you.


This Brand Studio post was written with Beeline.