Much of what gets discussed in effective staffing amounts to table stakes. Bill rates, markups, supplier rationalization, and fill ratios are all critical, but they’re not new. As a result, it can be hard to move the needle at times. Efficiency is often the most important piece in today’s competitive climate, and there are a few ways that can help you see an increase.
Accurate Supplier Mapping
If you’ve already rationalized your supply base, you’re off to a good start. But if you haven’t, then supplier mapping is best done in conjunction with supplier rationalization. In fact, it’s the best way to rationalize suppliers.
Supplier mapping simply refers to the process of mapping suppliers’ core capabilities to your program needs. But don’t rely on their marketing materials, website, or account managers to define that for you. Instead, use actual historical performance data from your own program to determine which suppliers are best able to deliver. Relevant criteria should include skill sets, geographies (optional), and your most important program guidelines (e.g., quality, rate compliance, speed, attrition, etc.). You’d be amazed at how differently suppliers perform account-to-account and even from year-to-year. So even if you’ve had a good experience with them up until now, that performance can vary over time as both their account service team evolves, or your program needs change.
Once you’ve analyzed your suppliers based on your talent needs (i.e., skill sets), locations, and in some cases, your internal business units or third-party client accounts, it’s time to create your formal map. Realistically, most clients only need 5-7 suppliers in a particular grouping – e.g., software developers on the West Coast, network administrators in NYC, or maybe field technicians in the Midwest. Some clients may only have 2-3 critical groupings, whereas others may have a dozen. However, be careful of having too many. Even the largest buyers rarely need more than 8-10. More than that can start to become difficult to manage without providing commensurate efficiency.
Once you’ve mapped your key suppliers based on actual historical performance, all that’s left is (a) creating a process for sending job requisitions based on your mappings, and (b) deciding how often to update your supplier mappings. Any suppliers who don’t make it into the mappings should either be relegated to Tier 2 status or rationalized.
Accurate Program Data
Surprisingly, despite the maturity and penetration of VMS applications and MSP providers, many programs still lack accurate data. The most common examples are having large numbers of contractors labeled as “consultants,” “project managers” or “software developers” without any indication as to their areas of expertise or seniority levels. However, inaccuracies can also arise in terms of other metrics such as bill rate compliance, reasons for attrition, fill rates, and other meaningful performance metrics.
Sometimes this data exists and is simply not reported in a useful way. Other times, the VMS application may not be configured to capture it properly. Either way, accurately capturing and reporting on your data is foundational to increasing program efficiency and evaluating your suppliers. Without it, you are more likely to have to rely on qualitative metrics such as manager feedback or aggregated metrics.
While most major VMS applications can be configured to capture the data at the required level of detail, many situations require an initial research effort to disaggregate the historical data. The other alternative is to simply begin capturing new data according to a more detailed set of criteria and allowing natural attrition to address the older data. The right choice is always program specific.
Strategic Workforce Management
Maximizing efficiency in your managed services program can mean the difference between a successful program with high-fill ratios (or even the ideal fill ratio of 100%) and one that falters and gets replaced by the client after a few years. As the highly competitive market changes, Pinnacle Group continues to tailor-fit services with a nimble approach to support all of our clients’ complex needs.