More on Partnership

Last week I wrote how bulge bracket investment banks (and other large corporations) have an inherently flawed system in outsourcing the management of temporary labor to Vendor Management Services (VMS.) The VMS employees are unable to provide their vendors, the sources of consultants and temporary labor, with the information they need to be excellent and insulate the hiring managers from the sources of labor. This is in part a result of equating Consultants and Temporary employees with office supplies.

They are far from it. In fact, no other part of a company’s supply chain has this level of variation and complexity. Yet the baseline philosophy behind the VMS is to use standard purchasing procedures. (I have yet to meet a ream of copy paper that cares about the environment of a printer tray.)

Most hiring managers are reluctant to talk to anyone in Human Resources, let alone someone from ANOTHER COMPANY calling for feedback on a resume. And VMS operators must keep a wall between vendors and hiring managers. If they didn’t, we Staffing Providers would be jacking up our markups, making side deals and doing everything we could to subvert the competitive bidding process. We just can’t help ourselves.

So what to do?

I think that a slight tweaking of the technology is the key. Most VMS systems are designed to distribute order information: position descriptions, pay and bill rates, start dates – all of that fun stuff. Back in 1997 that was a novel thing to get over the internet – now, not so much. There needs to be a shift in focus to developing the technology to provide information, profile departments, identify attributes of successful candidates and provide a forum for staffing firms to get questions answered.

This seems like a daunting task at first glance but when you think of the number of times hiring managers interact with VMS tools (weekly approval of time, order process, resume review, etc.) you see a huge opportunity to get simple questions answered. Think about what could happen if a hiring manager was asked, as part of the time approval process, questions such as “What are 3 very noticeable attributes of your most valued employee?” or “What are the things that you generally look for in a resume?” We could build a profile with a compilation of 6 months of that data – and filling orders behind the VMS wall would not seem nearly as hard.

There are several other venues for increasing the flow of information. The first step is for Vendor Managers and their clients to recognize that their commodity is the information they collect and provide – not the candidates.