SI Review: August 2011


Straight Talk from the Customer

Stand Out

Be honest about what you can —and can’t — deliver

By Chana Brickell

First Data has utilized a VMS/MSP model to manage our temporary labor process for the last six years. Last year, we decided we needed to review our contingent workforce program to ensure it was performing at optimal levels. As part of the process, we defined what we needed to receive from our suppliers in order to be successful: quality, cost, compliance and service.

With these key factors in mind, we submitted an RFP to all current suppliers as well as key additional suppliers in the marketplace. After careful review, we removed non-performing suppliers, added some new suppliers, and implemented a tiered approach to sourcing candidates. We are currently monitoring the results and plan to update the list periodically as needed.

One thing we discovered as a result of this undertaking is that some suppliers are better at selling than they are at delivering. We need them to deliver in those four critical areas. Here, I discuss what quality, cost, compliance and delivery mean to our company. They likely mean the same to other companies as well.


The successful suppliers in our program understand First Data’s culture and business. Too often, suppliers throw candidates our way, and it is obvious they do not really understand our business or what skills the role requires. We allow suppliers to meet with the hiring manager, at the manager’s discretion, to ask questions about the role, the skills required, the culture and anything else they would like to know prior to sourcing the position.

These informational meetings are such a great opportunity to obtain the details needed to find quality candidates. Unfortunately, some suppliers don’t always make the most of it, forcing us to conclude that truly understanding the requirements of the position and the needs of the organization are not important to the supplier. On the other hand, suppliers that do take the time and do ask the right questions stand out and are better able to perform.


We understand that your goal is to make a profit; likewise, understand that ours is to manage spend. During our evaluation process, we discovered there were significant variances in the mark-ups among our suppliers. Suppliers that were not competitively priced blamed it on “overhead,” giving the impression that they were not interested or able to deliver the best overall value to the marketplace.

We understand our suppliers need to make money, as that is what allows them to be in business, but we want to know that our suppliers are doing all that they can to offer us the best resource at the best price. The suppliers that obviously had disproportionately large markups, for whatever reason, were removed from our list.


Do the right thing for your client. Compliance can mean many things: compliance to a process, to a contract, to proper treatment of contractors — you get the picture. Ask your clients what compliance means to them and ask how you can help support them in these efforts. One supplier of ours approached us with a request that could have created a co-employment concern had our manager not responded appropriately. Don’t put your clients on the spot. Understand what you need to do to meet your clients’ compliance needs.


If you are not able, willing and committed to delivering effectively and efficiently — basically, to meet the terms of the agreement — do not waste our time. We added an IT supplier that committed to filling positions in a location outside of its core city. After the firm was on-boarded, the person managing the account decided not to spend time working those positions. Needless to say, this supplier probably will not last long in our program — and we certainly will not recommend this supplier to our colleagues.

These are the areas that are critical to us. I firmly believe that a supplier that consistently delivers against these categories will have a much longer relationship with our organization or any organization and will be looked at as a true partner. Find out what is important to your clients. If you can’t deliver, be honest. But companies that can will find themselves at the head of the class.

Chana Brickell is director of talent acquisition at First Data Corp.


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