I’m always interested in what others have to say about the staffing industry and what I can learn to make me a better staffing firm owner and ATR International a better staffing provider. Two recent articles by Staffing Industry Analysts’ Bryan Pen͂a, a VP of Contingent Workforce Strategies and Research, caught my attention. Bryan’s columns echo thoughts and opinions that I have previously shared in Staffing 360.
In The No Contact MSP Program, Pen͂a discusses the evolution of client thinking about MSPs, succinctly summarizing one of the main issues:
…the MSP often can never entirely replace the role of the hiring manager in describing exactly what was desired. Neither [can] the VMS technology fully capture the job requirements and replace [the] contact that allowed conversations and clarifications.
I expressed similar sentiments in Communication the Best Practice When it Comes to VMS. Human nature means that I am pleased to see anyone agree with me, but in this case it is an industry peer and one who has worked on the client side and brings that experience to his thinking as well.
In his column, Supplier Client Relationships are a Two-Way Street, Pen͂a explores the word “partnership,” which he calls “misused.” He defines true partnership “as the joining of separate groups working together for some unified purpose” and says in the staffing industry it must include “contracts [that] are clear with appropriate incentives for all parties — buyer and supplier — to perform.” What’s clear is that a true partnership cannot exist without a good working relationship, something I discussed in Relationship Still the Key to Partnering with Staffing Providers. My experience has been the same as Mr. Pen͂a’s – the best CW programs are those that have process and policies that allow appropriate communication, encourage relationship development and practice fair and equitable pricing and contract negotiations.
Pen͂a makes what might seem like a bold suggestion, asking “the supplier community to be careful before accepting any new client.” It might seem counterintuitive – isn’t any business good business? – but I agree wholeheartedly and already practice what Mr. Pen͂a preaches. I see the RFP process as a chance for both client and staffing supplier to evaluate each other and determine if the fit is good for both parties. ATR has declined to propose at various stages of the process when it becomes apparent that the culture and policies of the prospective or sometimes existing client are not in line with ours and do not provide a real chance at success. Pena advises suppliers not to “agree to clauses that could render them bankrupt down the road.” I’ve discussed one example of this before in reverse auctions. I’ve seen other staffing firms agreeing to pricing levels that are unsustainable just to get the work. I don’t know what happens down the road in these instances, but the advice in this column leads me to think I’ve done the right thing all along.
I understand that CW program managers are all working under tremendous pressure, the budgets and headcounts are tighter than ever before and personnel management is as challenging as it’s ever been. I also know that staffing providers are challenged as well trying to deliver top quality talent at reasonable rates while still making a profit. No one sets out to deliberately be parsimonious or ruinous to another’s bottom line – everyone just wants the best price and service. We are all, between our business and personal lives, both customers and suppliers many times a day. If we always remember a little of what it’s like to be in the other’s shoes, we can hopefully develop mutually beneficial working relationships that provide both with a good experience. This is what Mr. Pen͂a’s ultimate goal is in giving his advice and I am happy to “partner” with him on that!
President and CEO
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