The world of contingent workforce management has been rapidly evolving. And the emergence of managed service programs and vendor management systems further hastened the change of pace. Buyers were able to leverage massive spend across multiple vendors and effectively negotiate unified contracts for hundreds of job categories. Some vendors developed strategies to take advantage of the coming technology wave and prospered. Others worked to circumvent these programs, creating untold headaches for CW managers trying to increase adoption and growth in their programs. Having lived through this process myself, I can tell you it was easy to decide to restrict vendor contact to the VMS technology and the MSP provider.
It made sense at the time, but that was then. While restricting access did give us the control we needed at the time, it came with a downside. The relationship element was removed from the equation, leaving suppliers essentially to fly blind while filling requisitions. Worker quality suffered and sometimes hard-won relationships suffered. The providers hated it; the hiring managers often didn’t understand it. But the procurement department was for it.
However, the no-access rule has become difficult to maintain as these programs continue to evolve. Program managers saw that the MSP often can never entirely replace the role of the hiring manager in describing exactly what was desired. Neither could the VMS technology fully capture the job requirements and replace that contact that allowed conversations and clarifications.
In the end, programs that completely eliminate the valuable one-on-one relationship between hiring manager and supplier anecdotally have poorer quality and compliance. It goes without saying that every situation is different and in some cases such a policy may make sense, but many buyers do not consider the ramifications of such a policy. It is that dogmatic commitment to a problematic policy that I am taking to task.
Last week, I wrote about the importance of partnerships between buyers and staffing suppliers. Partnership means both parties are acting in a manner that ensures everyone can be successful, and it is the contingent workforce program manager’s job to set the stage for that. While every circumstance is different and there truly is no “best practice” that applies equally to every company, no-contact policies have no place in an evolved contingent workforce program and make having those partnerships impossible.
I’m not saying that suppliers should have unfettered access to hiring managers. But they should be allowed to have controlled access with appropriate guidelines and rules. Perhaps that would be in the form of quarterly supplier visits or “get to know a hiring manager” webinars. In some programs, the hiring manager holds a conference call with multiple suppliers to discuss a requisition. There are many ways to make the solution work. All it takes is a little trust, creativity and just a little conversation.