Have you ever watched an MSP rapidly collapse or slowly waste away? Of course you have! And, whether it was a quick or gradual death, an autopsy is needed. As opposed to doing a fishbone analysis or a ‘5 Whys’ root cause examination, a few observations might be helpful. Some are clear – others are not so apparent or are issues we would rather ignore. Even though this list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, be prepared for the obvious and the offensive – CSI work is not always pretty.

Client Executive Sponsorship Virus (CESV)

No way to soften the blow on this one: It’s easy to blame the MSP, the VMS, the suppliers, and even the program’s high cholesterol diet, but the client’s executive sponsor, or lack thereof, can be hugely problematic. Without power, influence, will and preparation, the executive sponsor will be unable to thwart the infection of mutinous internal and external stakeholders that festers, incubated by poor communication, collaboration, and design.

Why insufficient adoption and compliance? Why all the finger wagging and pointing? Maybe it’s a lack of internal leadership – after all, aren’t most organizational strengths and weaknesses, program successes and failures directly related to leadership? Yes, and as much as we’d prefer to deny it, it’s the truth.

Unrealistic Treatment Expectations

In in any relationship, unrealized expectations are a precursor to poor health, and poor health eventually creates cadavers. Expectation management is a critical function of the executive sponsor but even more of the MSP. This begins with the sales process. Realism, honesty, and transparency are critical, if not always expedient, in establishing what a managed solution for staffing and the implementation of VMS technology can and candidly cannot do. Be truthful about what program improvements can be expected and how long they typically take. Although they will create value for the organization for years to come, remind everyone that these benefits don’t happen overnight. How life-giving to a contingent labor program, or any project for that matter, is a frank discussion that searches for and articulates exactly what will and what won’t work.

VMS Design, Training and Support Disorder

Slapping technology on top of a broken system doesn’t solve it, rather it often exacerbates it. Think of the guy who can’t balance his checkbook and gets a mobile banking app in hopes of curing all of his financial maladies. Wrong! He still can’t balance his checkbook and now the app is sending overdraft fee notifications that infuriate him. If the tool isn’t simple enough for everyone who uses it, if they aren’t thoroughly trained in the tasks they must perform, and if there isn’t someone (a real human being) available to provide answers to their questions and guidance, human nature dictates VMS avoidance and, eventually, abandonment. And we wonder why the system isn’t working. The system may be fine – it’s poor configuration, training, and support that’s sucking the life out of the program.

Cost Savings Dysfunction

“I can save you 50% of your contingent labor spend – guaranteed!” Translation: All we need to do is slice the staffing partner’s margins to the point where no decent, law-abiding agency would have any monetary incentive to send you contractors. Your spend will go down dramatically but you won’t have enough talent/workers to satisfy your customer’s demands. But that’s an altogether different health concern, one where your company’s very existence is at stake.

Supplier Malaise

By the way, this isn’t the cause of death but it certainly hastens expiration. The reason for a program’s demise is the health concerns that precede this factor but, invariably, the maladies mentioned above will produce symptoms in the supplier base. If you look at the truncated list above, all of these contribute to less than healthy supplier engagement – poor or non-existent leadership, faulty program design, unrealized or unrealistic promises, and lack of communication and support. These are a death knell to supplier motivation, and if providers aren’t motivated, the program is close to passing away. Talent is the lifeblood of a contingent labor program, and if the staffing partner’s vital signs are weakening, you better call 911. Better still, before you have to call the EMTs in, keep checking their temperature and make sure you have regularly scheduled appointments to monitor their energy level and overall health.

There aren’t many programs that outright drop dead, you might say, but many are on life support or are functioning at such a low level they could use a handicap parking space. And often no one knows the program is sick because they have nothing to compare it to. But one day the coroner will, and it’s prudent that we do a thorough evaluation and prescribe the right remedies before it gets to that point.