Evaluating a Vendor Management System (VMS) provider can be a daunting process; however, to achieve immediate ROI on the technology and a long-lasting relationship with the VMS provider, business owners must ensure all aspects of their contingent workforce management needs are met by conducting an in-depth review of a provider's business model, core functions and differentiating competitive factors, integration capabilities and customer service offerings.
An effective Vendor Management System will provide organizations with the technology to not only gain greater access to better worker data - but also achieve cost savings within their contingent workforce program and ensure quality of workers and government compliance.
Searching for a VMS provider
If your organization is considering investing in VMS technology, it's important to gain an understanding of how to vet providers in order to ensure your unique contingent workforce management needs and overall business goals are met.
The following information will provide insights into a Vendor Management System and guidance on the key questions to ask when vetting VMS providers.
What is a VMS provider
A Vendor Management System (VMS) is a cloud-based software system that helps facilitate the process of contingent worker procurement and management. Vendor Management Systems are used to manage a contingent workforce either by an organization directly or by a Managed Services Provider on behalf of their client partner.
Why a VMS is critical to contingent workforce management
The data and analytics capabilities of a VMS enable organizations to make better enterprise-wide decisions. The Vendor Management System gives users direct access to the information that allows employers to gauge the success of their programs with vendors and make adjustments accordingly.
Gaining insights into a VMS provider's background, experience and overall business strategy is an essential first step in searching for VMS technology. When vetting a VMS provider, consider asking questions relating to:
• How many years of industry specific experience does the management and senior workers have?
• Are they able to provide financials and/or case studies if requested?
• Are they owned or affiliated with a staffing agency?
Many business leaders who invest in a Vendor Management System will have unique needs specific to their organization and contingent workforce program goals, as such, it's common for companies to relinquish contingent workforce management responsibilities to multiple Managed Services Providers with expertise in each area.
This means it's important to gain an understanding of the vendor's MSP integration capabilities and limitations. Consider asking questions relating to:
• Is the VMS capable of supporting contingent workforce programs managed by multiple MSPs?
• Does the VMS allow for combinations of contingent workforce program models (self-managed and multi-MSPs)?
• How are workflows created and managed within a self managed, multiple or combination contingent workforce program model?
A successful VMS will be capable of handling the sourcing, procurement and management of both contingent workers and suppliers - including staffing vendors and multi-bid SOW processes. As each services engagement is different with varying suppliers, it's essential that the VMS technology allows for various levels of tailored integration and configuration with each supplier program. Consider asking questions relating to:
• Can the VMS control which staffing suppliers are authorized to respond to multi-bid SOW?
• How does the VMS technology enable negotiations with multiple internal and external parties?
• Can the technology manage the many different SOW payment structures with staffing suppliers?
Business Intelligence, Reporting and Security
A VMS will help employers make better data driven business decisions that will improve contingent workforce efficiencies, while also achieving cost savings. The data should be easy to access and analyze from one central hub within the VMS. Consider asking questions relating to:
• Are there any third-party tools used in the reporting system architecture? • Can you describe the VMS technology's ad hoc functionality and reporting features?
• Can the VMS’s real time technology benchmark against market data? • • Can you describe the technical architecture of the VMS?
• What computer system security is in place? Does it include protections like intrusion detection, backup procedures and fault or disaster recovery process plans?
• What are the key elements required for successful implementation and integration?
Implementation and integration
Integrating your VMS into your organization's IT ecosystem - including Human Resources systems, procurement, supplier systems, access/credentialing systems and ERP/AP tools to start - will provide a seamless end-to-end process. Consider asking questions relating to:
• Can every process be streamlined to provide every user types with an optimal experience?
• What key pieces are required to ensure a successful implementation and integration process?
What systems have already been integrated within the VMS?
- Typically, VMS integration can be categorized into three levels. Each level of VMS integration ensures important information and data from one system to the next is shared across an entire organization. This provides data that is consistent across the current IT ecosystem and the new VMS solution.
Customer service support
- Does the vendor/client relationship feel as though it would dissolve after implementation? It's important that the VMS program is supported with training tools and open lines of communication after the VMS has been implemented. Consider asking questions related to:
- • How do you include regular support to end users? Do you provide training tools, resolution management training, user guides, tutorials or customer support lines?
- • How will our organization be made aware of future product upgrades and new releases?
- • Are there any extra costs associated with the help of any customer support services?
Getting it right
- When sourcing and implementing a VMS, it's important for organizations to get the support and buy-in from the key stakeholders in the organization. Once management is on board with your vendor management strategy, the key to supporting your organization's management objectives is planning, choosing and configuring the right technology to suit your business needs.
If you're considering choosing a VMS or require more information on how to prepare for a a successful integration, significant operational changes can require a new management solution as you remodel your blended workforce. A Managed Services Program (MSP) will support these tech changes across the entire contingent workforce delivery.
Are you interested in gaining deeper insights into Vendor Management Systems?
Download our free Case Study to learn how Procom's VMS technology helped one client partner save on contingent workforce costs and more.