SI Review: July 2012

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Straight Talk From the Customer

Two’s Company

Why suppliers should be allowed to talk to hiring managers

By Brett Gerber

A managed service program needn’t be painful to the staffng providers working through it. After all, the managed service provider (MSP) is supposed to help administer a contingent workforce so that operations are smooth. As is the case at many companies, we had a managed service program a few years ago, that wasn’t working very well for Aurora Bank. In our case, our managers were less than pleased with the overall quality of hires and time-to-fill metrics. And our agency staffing partners felt disconnected from the program. Communication was poor, which in turn slowed down feedback.

So what could we do to improve return on investment for all parties? As manager of talent acquisition at the bank, I was the throat to choke when the program drew criticism. I had higher expectations of our program, and I knew I could tweak it to get better results.

Vendor Buy-in

I wanted a program that not only my managers could count on but one that vendors would stay engaged in and produce for us. Obviously, this meant vendor buy-in. My company decided to go the vendor-neutral MSP route so we needed to create the right agenda that all parties including the MSP could embrace and push forward.

After a new RFP process, we settled on the MSP that also provided the VMS tool we’d been using. That technology was already meeting our needs and was easy for vendors and managers to use. Our billing process and automated workflows were the positive parts of our program and I wanted to keep the things that worked the best, and focus on improving the other parts of the program, like building successful relationships between hiring managers and vendors.

Maintaining Relationships

Many companies believe that allowing vendors to talk to managers directly causes a corporation to lose control. More important, they believe such interaction pushes up prices and reduces competition. War stories about how vendors harangue managers often make the rounds.

But I disagree. I believe allowing personal relationships enables the supplier to get an understanding of what the hiring manager is looking for. Our staffing providers maintain contact with the hiring managers. I often hear how MSPs control this. I feel that open communication with managers who want relationships provides for better potential fits with agency candidates. In addition, agencies can often get better and quicker feedback — both of which help quality of hire and time to fill metrics. Also, agency recruiters will stay more engaged and not feel that they are sending resumes into a “black hole.”

On my part, I value the agency relationships I have created and want to reward those agencies with spots on our approved vendor lists. This also helps us keep control of the vendor list. The suppliers who come on board are those who have proven value. And since we are vendor neutral (our MSP does not supply workers), we are in a good position to monitor the quality of our supply chain and ultimately get good talent.

Our hiring managers also have the ability to suggest/add vendors and have input on all policy changes. These managers are also encouraged to have relationships with vendors and not just our MSP. A program that they help “own” creates participation and less renegade behaviors.

Accountability with Flexibility

We create a scorecard for each vendor, holding them accountable for pre-determined metrics important to our business. Be sure you know what you’re being rated on. We sit down with our vendors and share that feedback and their respective rankings within our program.

Don’t think you won’t be rewarded. For stellar agency partners, we sometimes allow program flexibility by negotiating markup caps or other contract terms. I want cost savings, but not at the expense of not getting an agency’s best candidates. We allow flexibility throughout the program in a variety of ways, including sole sourcing of some roles and better contract terms — but only for partners that excel in service.

At the end of the day, I wanted it all: cost savings, control, choice, manager compliance, competition, user-friendly technology, process management and vendor cooperation — all without compromising quality of hire and time-to-fill metrics. And allowing vendors to have a relationship with the managers seemed the right way to go for all parties involved.

Brett Gerber is the vice president of talent acquisition at Aurora Bank FSB.

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Project One

Gary Zander 07/03/2012 03:48 pm

Brett hits the nail on the head!
The #1 success factor in your supplier's ability to recruit, place and support contingent workers is direct communication with hiring managers.
If you've chosen your supplier list wisely, this will only enhance the effectiveness of your program.
No amount of written detailed job specs or 3rd party conversations can substitute for the direct, accurate and precise dialogue between a professional recruiter and hiring manager.
If your concern is that your managers will be bothered by suppliers, then find better suppliers.
If your concern is your managers will favor certain suppliers, then let it be if it's producing the right results!


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