Based loosely on reality, this is an exchange between a grotesquely large, out of touch, disengaged MSP and a small supplier whose client has just announced its move to outsource the management of its contingent workforce:

MSP: Hi, I’m Betty Black-Widow with ABC MSP. How are you?

Supplier: Good. You?

MSP: What’s your name again?

Supplier: I never gave it to you but it’s Supplier:

MSP: Nice to meet you by phone, Sally.

Supplier: But it’s Supplier.

MSP: Never mind. Welcome to ZYZ’s contingent workforce program. As an incumbent vendor, do we ever have a deal for you!

Supplier: OK.

MSP: I’ve attached the agreement in a PDF format. No redlines allowed, obviously. To ward off any of your legitimate concerns, here’s the opportunity: We are offering undefined payment terms, unenforceable legal language (of course you want to indemnify, hold harmless, and defend us and our client for any and all of our negligence, even if it’s governed by OSHA, or EEOC, or DOL, or…), nonexistent margins, unattainable SLAs, the joyful use of our cumbersome VMS (which provides no helpful customer service), burdensome compliance mandates, and the privilege of absorbing our MSP fee. Also, there is no guarantee of volume. We are vendor neutral unless our parent company secretly owns you.

Supplier: Well…

MSP: Never mind. You have 23 minutes to sign the agreement and our legal team will review it and get back to you in 7 to 34 weeks.

Supplier: What if…

MSP: Never mind. What a deal this is for you! Did I mention the 72 hour guarantee and 24 hour conversions with no fee? It’s a $25M global program with only 4,000 other suppliers, so there’s a lot of volume to be had here – even though we won’t commit to anything…any time, or anywhere. To sweeten the pot, you don’t get paid unless your VMS entry is flawless and you correct any billing discrepancies prior to us releasing the invoice.

Supplier: I have a few questions…

MSP: Never mind. It’s all in the attachments. Once signed, I will give you the name of our Program Manager and Operations Specialist, neither of whom you will ever be able to reach. They also won’t respond to emails. They will be in touch if you screw up and send threatening emails with every audit and scorecard.

Supplier: But…

MSP: Never mind. There will be a program launch call soon where you’ll learn all about how the program benefits you. I’ll send you an invite. I hope you will be able to contain your enthusiasm until then.


6 months later…

MSP: We’ve noticed your submission rate is down and your turnover in the warehouses is above the acceptable 1% per century.

Supplier: Well…

MSP: Never mind. We are under pressure to get our client top notch workers by yesterday…at wages 20% below market. We have to completely eliminate turnover, because that’s what we promised them. All of your metrics are below what we’ve committed to FYZ. We need your best people and we need them now. So, what are you going to do?

Supplier: Keep sending our best people to other clients where they make more money, we have better margins, and nobody has to put up with your convoluted VMS.


Despite my warped, somewhat over-the-top sense of humor (maybe too close to reality for some), MSPs and VMSs aren’t inherently evil (geez, I run an MSP). In fact, they can bring great value to the client-supplier partnership and significantly enhance talent acquisition processes and management. But things must be done differently, my friends. It might be counter cultural, but I know MSP programs can be far superior than this satirical scenario. And it’s true because I’ve seen it in action.

Or you can just stick with the status quo – in which case, never mind.

Want to learn more? Please contact Linden Wolfe, PHR, CCWP at