To say that staffing MSPs have evolved over the last 10-15 years is an understatement. However, they have seen the most change and maturation in the last 5 years – as the economy and the labor market have changed MSPs have adapted their priorities out of necessity. The basic ones remained the same, but the order of importance has definitely shifted. Although there are many pieces to the MSP puzzle, here is my simple, 30,000 feet glance into MSP impact areas and, finally, the most important one today.

Diversity Inclusion

Although not high on every company’s list, many see MSPs as a structured way to meet diversity spending goals and create a more inclusive workforce, one that mirrors the communities they live and work in. This isn’t goodwill, this is good business.

Efficiency Creation

Once implemented and embraced enterprise wide, automation generally lessens manual functions and creates operational efficiencies. Both the outsourcing of staffing supplier management to the MSP, allowing the company to focus on its core competencies, and integration of the VMS eventually reduce the client’s time spent doing cumbersome or extraneous tasks.

Risk Mitigation

By standardizing the on-boarding process across all staffing partners, and tracking and auditing through a VMS tool, companies have less exposure to undocumented workers, drug and alcohol abuse policy noncompliance, criminal conviction adjudication challenges, and many other areas of concern. Mandated safety training can also reduce EHS issues and potentially decrease Workers Comp costs.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Simply said, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. With all staffing supplier activities and billings tracked though a program-wide platform (VMS) critical data can be generated and interpreted. Performance metrics and KPI’s become clearer and less subjective. The overall financial impact of a company’s extended workforce comes into focus. Now data, not instinct or guesswork, becomes the driver of business decisions related to contingent labor and talent acquisition.

Service/Quality Improvement

With the MSP’s function of supplier management key to the program’s success, they are tasked with improving the service responsiveness of the vendor base and the talent attracted to their client. What is today called talent supply chain management, if done properly, brings real value to the program’s overall effectiveness and leverages synergies in a very competitive landscape. Scorecarding generates more clear-cut and objective staffing KPIs and creates a framework for continuous improvement and TA initiative execution.

Cost Management

Soon after the Great Recession, this may have been #1…but not so much now. Please note that I didn’t say supplier markup reduction. Although that might be possible with highly decentralized non-MSP staffing models that use a large percentage of professional/technical skills, many companies have already done a good job of markup management and negotiation on their own. Cost management now often focuses more on demand management (How much am I spending, where, and why?), overtime reduction, and markup optimization. Also crucial is the soft cost impact of redundancy elimination and process streamlining.

And the #1 function of staffing MSPs today is… (Drumroll please!)…

Access to Quality Talent

To put it bluntly, if an MSP isn’t creating for their client a heightened access to quality workers, few of the other functions above create substantive benefits. Sure, your costs are in line, risk is reduced, efficiencies have been created, analytics now drive decisions, but you don’t have enough quality workers to satisfy your customer’s demands. Unlike just five or so years ago, when talent was aplenty, finding and keeping the best workforce is what makes or breaks many companies. A good MSP partner should make a significant difference in this critical mission.

“When it comes to success in business, one measure alone can accurately predict the future—wealth of talent. The more talent wealth an organization has, the more successful that organization will be.” – Scott Winthrop

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