We take a look at how to effectively manage staffing suppliers – and who best to provide this information than our very own Supplier Relationship Management Team. We spoke to Beth Armesto and Danni Clarke to gather their advice.
What are the top challenges of managing staffing suppliers?
Beth: For the likes of a Managed Service Provider (MSP) like Guidant Global, one of our biggest unique selling points is the fact that we manage relationships with a wealth of suppliers. We’re proud to say that we work with over 2300 unique suppliers globally – but this does present a few challenges. Honing in on the suppliers that need more support or relationship building to help them expand their footprint, for example, requires a significant time investment.
With such an extensive supply base in a typical MSP model, there does need to be an optimisation programme to support both the end client and hiring managers in streamlining their supply base, as well as aid those within the supply chain itself.
Danni: I agree the optimisation of staffing suppliers is one of the biggest challenges. Quite often you can find that the majority of the spend is centred around a small proportion of suppliers, which means that the chain itself can probably be streamlined.
And with more clients looking at cost-savings at the moment, striking the balance between reducing costs to keep employers happy, without compromising supplier rates and ensuring we’re keeping the supplier engaged, is becoming a bigger challenge.
How has managing staffing suppliers changed during COVID-19?
Beth: There hasn’t been a real change in how we’ve managed staffing services suppliers, but there has been a shift in the services these businesses provide. There have been a number of entities that have refocused or retargeted their efforts into new sectors out of simple necessity in the current environment.
Interestingly, though, there has also been an increase in collaboration across the supply chain. We’re seeing more of the larger, generalist suppliers offering to support smaller ones by bringing them in under a sub contract for big projects. This wasn’t uncommon prior to the pandemic, but it’s certainly more obvious now.
Danni: Covid-19 has definitely sped up the shift to leaner supplier models, but it’s also diversified what our suppliers do. We’ve seen a number of those we have relationships with adapt their offering to support services where there is demand – the delivery or production of PPE, for example.
But we have also noticed that there’s been a lot more interest in digital platforms where there may have perhaps been some scepticism before. The integration of crowd sourcing platforms into a Vendor Management System (VMS), for example, has been increasingly of interest throughout the pandemic.
What would your top supplier management tips be?
Danni: The most critical advice I can give is to talk to your supply chain. We deliver a number of supplier events and regularly communicate with them to provide a platform to engage and really build valuable relationships.
Having an open dialogue helps to make sure roles are being filled, suppliers are engaged and the entire chain is being managed effectively. Alongside this, those in our supply chain are usually the first to see any trends or market changes and the information they provide is invaluable both for Guidant Global and its clients.
Beth: I second that. We’ve always been a very ‘high-touch’ business and will reach out for feedback and to share intel both ways. We focus on building trust across the chain and our teams ensure suppliers have all the support they need.
And this approach delivers results for Guidant Global. We have developed strong relationships with our suppliers, we’ve built up trust – in fact we give our strategic partners direct client access. As a result, our Net Promoter Score is significantly high – in fact, it’s currently +50 globally – and 90% of our suppliers ranked us as one of the top MSPs they work with. All of this results in better solutions for the clients and suppliers.
Why is effective management of staffing suppliers so crucial in today’s environment?
Beth: Our customers know that our strategy is to take their supply base and adapt it to their current needs – which in this environment is constantly changing. And with budgets increasingly tight, a lack of effective supplier management means it is almost impossible to identify how each supplier is performing, remove any inefficient links in the chain and increase opportunities for higher performing partners.
Danni: A lot of the clients that engage us, initially have zero visibility of who they’re paying or who is working in their business from a contingent perspective and that not only has an impact on costs, but also screening and compliance. With IR35 soon to be rolled out, more effective management of staffing suppliers really is crucial now.