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Common MSP implementation challenges and how to avoid them

Posted Kimball Norup, SVP, Head of Growth at Hays Talent Solutions Americas on Monday, Jan 8, 2018

Blog2_implementationchallengesManaged service provider (MSP) programs can provide companies, and their hiring managers, with many benefits by providing a single system that finds the right talent, allows standardized processes and introduces best practices. Once you choose the right solutions provider for your business, the implementation process begins. Working to ensure that all vendors, suppliers, clients, and workers are on the same page, comes with its challenges.  Hays Talent Solutions has established themselves as a leading global MSP,  working with clients across many industries and regions. With our background and vast experience as an MSP here are some of the challenges and key learnings we’ve gathered that will help you avoid future mistakes and ensure your MSP implementation is successful. 

Transfer of data
When you begin transferring the data into your MSP program, there are two key questions to consider: Is there an existing program in place? Or, are you building a new program? Working with a current program involves cutting over a population of workers and vendors. Whenever you’re taking over a program, it's usually a cleaner process as there’s no change in technology. If there's an incumbent when taking over the program, pulling the data out of the vendor management system (VMS), packaging it up by the supplier and sending it off to each supplier to validate their information creates a smooth line of communication that ensures the transfer of data is clean.

Building a new MSP requires a lot of new considerations like the supply chain of vendors and which workers are on assignment or have been in the recent past. Identifying a contact in either data analytics or IT can help with producing outputs of the various systems. If there is no system in place, those key sourcing/procurement contacts are critical to arranging the supplier information and the general stakeholders of the program.

Defining the contingent worker procurement process and workflow during implementation is crucial to the change management structure and the overall success of your MSP.  A lot of time and expense goes into customizing an implementation program for each client. There are many constituents to consider when mapping out a communication strategy and each group has different needs within the program. For example, there are internal communications (for the MSP team), the users of the program (hiring managers), the staffing suppliers and the actual workers themselves. The hiring managers need to understand every time they’re going to engage a contingent worker; they know how it works and where to go and what to do. The staffing providers who work with a company through the program need to understand how they can get access to requisitions and how rate cards work. Many details depend on the program, and the actual workers themselves need unambiguous communication on how the program works, how they enter time and expenses and where to go for problems.

In some instances, clients won’t allow a proactive communication flow between staffing suppliers and hiring managers, and it causes issues. Implementing frequent and relevant communication “gates” with all constituents as you walk through the implementation will help in creating a more consistent dialogue that's crucial, especially as it relates to the users of the program and its suppliers.

Stakeholders and program champions
Many contingent workforce programs fail because they have weak stakeholders or weak governance that either don't have the authority to enforce the use of the program or just don't care to enforce it at all. Consequently, the program blows up and becomes very difficult to manage because people start to go around it. Stakeholder buy-in and stakeholder clout throughout the organization is essential when establishing your MSP processes and building relationships with suppliers in the talent acquisition or HR team. The best programs have sponsors who are actively evangelizing the benefits for the program for both hiring managers, workers, and suppliers.
The best way to mitigate so-called “rogue spend” is before a program goes live by designing stage gates where people can’t procure contingent workers without going through the program. They become a safety check that ensures that no one can engage workers outside of the program. One of the common ways to do that is through accounts payable. You can’t set up a new vendor unless it’s approved through the program and you can’t pay a vendor that’s not going through the program as an approved supplier. It’s easier to do whenever the contracts are held internally because then there are no contractual vehicles for the suppliers to do it outside of the program.

Implementing stage gates can also be done from another angle with IT lockdowns, where most companies (if they’re large enough) have to have a worker record created for the individuals, granting them system access and physical access to the building.

Another example of a stage gate is when the MSP team can only enter the non-employer in the contingent labor category. No one else has the access, and that keeps them from being able to get physical access, IT security access and application access, even if they're trying to force the worker on site, they virtually have no way of being able to work.

Clear expectations
It is vital to establish what is in scope and out of scope especially when it comes to the exceptions and rules of a program. By creating a very defined escalation process, you ensure that if there are exceptions, you can be clear on how and when to make them.  If you have a weak program champion, they will make frequent exceptions turning your program into a huge mess. Make it clear what type of workers go through the program and what is excluded based on how the company wants to structure their program.

A useful control to have in place is a governance board and a robust change control process where the initial bid is getting a final sign off on what the project scope is on the front end, and then the change control process is wrapped across the implementation.  If at any point the client asks for an entirely different solution you’d have to go back through that formal process for a change control sign off including a possible re-price, rather than just pivoting on the spot in changing the implementation route.

Implementing a new MSP solution is a big undertaking for all constituents.  It's essential to maintain a clear line of communication from the beginning all the way through to launch. Choosing a program champion, establishing stage gates, transferring data and being clear about your expectations will help you through your implementation journey and making sure your company finds the best talent with the support of an MSP program. To see a collection of Hays Talent Solutions most recent insights on building and managing an MSP program, visit: http://www.haystalentsolutions.com/insights/index.htm

HTS will be hosting a webinar January 25th, 2018 at 12 pm ET. Travis O' Rourke of HTS will be joined by procurement expert Bill Michels of CIPS, the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, as they address your questions and examine how you can align your talent acquisition with your strategic sourcing to ensure a robust candidate pool. Register here.

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