MSPs were originally designed for massive users of contingent labor in the Professional/Technical (PT) space. Although some providers have evolved and learned to create more Light Industrial (LI) friendly solutions, many have been unable to successfully adapt despite the huge need in this space. But why is this?

Many MSPs don’t do light industrial staffing, much less like it.

It’s difficult to fully understand and architect effective solutions when one of a company’s spoken or unspoken goals is to avoid being a light industrial staffing provider, and even reluctantly takes on managing LI suppliers. With a preference for ‘cleaner,’ higher margin business, it’s easy to take on LI spend only because it’s a necessary evil that allows the MSPs to capture the more attractive PT or SOW pieces of the program. If an MSP hasn’t gotten its own hands dirty being an LI staffing provider or embracing that sector as a core competency, they often struggle to build sustainable models. When it comes to constructing high volume, highly transactional LI models with truly engaged suppliers it usually “takes one to know one.”

Many MSPs think PT program models will work for LI.

What often makes PT programs hum along – vendor neutral staffing models, limited or non-existent client-staffing supplier interactions, longer req-to-candidate start cycles, no volume guarantees – doesn’t usually work very well in highly transactional LI programs that often have accelerated ramp ups. Taking the ‘human’ out of Human Resources is often why LI programs fail or flail. Technology has to be combined with old-fashioned customer service and communication, and agility and customization are at a premium. Forcing the proverbial square peg of a PT model into the round hole of LI staffing is an exercise in futility.

Many MSPs implement a VMS that is too complex and cumbersome for LI.

How much technology does it take to run a small to medium size LI staffing program? Enough. That said, these types of programs don’t need the “bells and whistles” that global, multi-billion dollar conglomerates do. These clients don’t need a repository of 4000 reports that produce more data than they can ever use or force the end users to navigate multiple screens. Nor should companies have to pay for technology capabilities they will never use. What they do need is single click functionality to make the tool user friendly for even a manufacturing line supervisor. They need functionality for mass on- and off-boarding. They need simple, scalable technology and a commitment to train everyone who touches the tool, and an MSP that never presumes end users of the platform are DBAs or Java Developers.

Many MSPs don’t understand LI staffing suppliers.

In today’s labor market landscape, job number one for any MSP is to provide their client the best possible access to talent. Everything else – data, compliance, risk mitigation, cost management, etc. – becomes meaningless if the client doesn’t have the human capital to get product or services out the door on time. So MSPs must understand what motivates LI suppliers – often their primary access to desperately needed talent. Given the thin margins typically associated with this niche, LI suppliers need some intangibles not as critical to PT suppliers. Aspects like realistic volume protections, safety commitments, client communication, limited/tiered supplier base (two to three per site at most, depending on size), MSP transparency and collaboration and accurate headcount forecasting are all meaningful dimensions that compel real engagement and draw the best talent from LI suppliers.

Where do you turn if you need the best LI staffing program?

Do your homework – most everyone says they are great in this space. Some are. Some aren’t. Find an MSP that aligns with you culturally and, most importantly, knows the LI staffing world. Don’t presume that bigger is better. Look for collaboration, customization, nimbleness and an MSP that’s willing to grow and adapt as your business does. Don’t settle for prescriptive, boilerplate programs – choose partnership and the ability and commitment to build a solution uniquely for you.