CWS 3.0: October 5, 2011 - Vol. 3.27


Perspective: Implementing a VMS with Supplier Help

Converting a contingent workforce process into a vendor management system (VMS) is no small task. Managing a significant change initiative with a focus on building strong partnerships isn’t minor either. Yet, with appropriate systems to manage workforce data, open-minded and committed customer partnerships, and consistent communication to all involved, LPL Financial was able to do just that. You can achieve great results, too. Here’s how:

C-suite support. Before doing anything else, be sure you have executive buy-in and support. Lacking that, you face an uphill battle. With it, your job is much easier. Next, form a team of invested stakeholders from various business functions (finance, HR, operations, risk, etc.). Those selected should have diverse expertise and be able to think creatively to evaluate options, systems and process improvements. This talented stakeholder team will seek information from internal and external customers to help formulate and drive new system processes for the anticipated results. Throughout this process, seek guidance and input from senior management to assist in driving, defining and reviewing the procedures.

Staffing partnerships. Prior to seeking out and evaluating vendor management systems, our stakeholder team reviewed and assessed existing contingent worker supplier partnerships, identifying which suppliers filled the majority of assignments and asking the key service questions: Were they also valued by the hiring managers? Did these suppliers consistently provide strong customer service with quality candidates? Were the contingent candidates treated fairly and paid fairly? We wanted to understand the value this group of suppliers added to our process.

To evaluate these criteria, we conducted assessments via a request for proposal (RFP) and then compared and communicated the results. We then developed a supplier program and established service-level agreements with selected suppliers. We wanted to understand the value this group of suppliers brought to our firm and include them in the VMS selection process while developing our supplier program. We solicited supplier comments and suggestions, many of which were added into the program. These contributions helped to ensure buy-in and compliance.

VMS selection. Next, the team needed to understand how a VMS is utilized to track, report, simplify and add value to supplier programs while meeting employer and supplier expectations and business objectives. We researched, evaluated and spoke with selected suppliers of workforce systems, in addition to conducting another RFP process. We also asked our staffing suppliers for their input regarding various VMS applications. Our specific critical objectives for the VMS were to simplify employer tasks, minimize risks, track activities and report on spend while also adding value to our suppliers and internal customers. If the staffing supplier cannot use the system seamlessly, then value is diminished. Likewise, if the system doesn’t add value to hiring managers, adoption will be a challenge.

Change management. The stakeholder project team next worked with the chosen VMS supplier and established timelines that would meet internal objectives. This is where the stakeholder project team really has the opportunity to create, along with the VMS supplier, a system that meets or exceeds expectations. Partnerships with contingent worker suppliers are critical at this time too. We wanted our suppliers to continue their relationships with internal managers and we wanted the VMS to add value by creating efficiency and cost reductions. We believe the relationships between our suppliers and hiring managers lead to better contingent placements. The relationships assure quality assessments, cultural fit and successful results.  

Monitor results. Up until now, critical elements have been good communication, consideration of others’ perspectives, flexibility in the face of change, executive sponsorship, training and communication with suppliers. Once implemented, review the results with the stakeholder team and senior management and make any changes, if necessary.

Successful projects are implemented by valued teams, both internal and external; strong partnerships are forged from listening to the perspectives of others, especially when changes in business processes are implemented. In the end, we were able to add value with the appropriate VMS, a clearly written and understood supplier program, customer-oriented suppliers, management support and quality contingent worker placements.

With a comprehensive approach, solid planning, effective partnerships, broad and frequent communication, implementing a VMS, while still no small task, can be a positive and rewarding experience for all those involved.

Wanda Lundy is vice president of workforce management, human capital, at LPL Financial.


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