Simplifying Your Company’s Contingent Workforce Management

Published: Dec 14, 2018
Modified: Jun 01, 2020


Studies of the American workforce continue to point in the contingent direction, and whether you call them freelancers, contractors, or temporary workers, all signals suggest they are here to stay. Having more contingent workers means more of everything that comes with them—staffing suppliers, contracts, invoices, and reports—and more time and energy on the part of managers to keep track of it all.

Managing this process involves a tremendous investment of time that can detract from the manager’s more urgent and productive priorities. A managed service provider (MSP), using a vendor management system (VMS), can substantially reduce the complexity of contractor workforce management. As a result, your executive managers can focus on higher-level tasks and strengthen their leadership qualities.

A well-established MSP that is responsible for managing the end-to-end process of temporary assignment fulfillment—including supplier performance management, invoicing, analytics, and program performance—can create business intelligence and efficiencies that enable organizations to make better decisions about contingent labor sourcing and performance.

MSPs: Reducing the contingent workforce burden

There are generally four phases of using an MSP program:

  • Development is the initial phase of corporate discovery to understand the company’s needs and objectives, confirming policies and practices, establishing a project plan, implementing a timeline, and designing an appropriate program.
  • Implementation involves the engagement of internal and external associates, the drafting of internal and external communications, the creation of training materials for managers, and the introduction of the MSP team to the company.
  • Execution involves managing electronic program screening and enrollment; providing qualified candidates; and processing weekly timesheets, payroll, and invoicing.
  • Enhancement is marked by support for ongoing program adoption, providing reporting to support business intelligence, implementing proactive ways to improve the program and foresee upcoming business needs, and conducting quarterly business reviews.

During development, the MSP team will optimize three resources: people, process, and technology. Collaborative discovery sessions with client stakeholders will explore all areas of the contingent labor process. From financial approval practices to space and asset provisioning to invoice processing, the MSP team will gather information to design a comprehensive workflow for temporary assignment management. Solutions engineers will define what the company’s existing processes consist of, conduct a gap analysis to identify inefficiencies or weaknesses, and then provide recommendations for an improved future state.

When the optimal workflow has been defined, the MSP will implement the appropriate technical solutions. To do this, it will determine what internal/external systems the company currently uses throughout its process of sourcing, matching, engaging, onboarding, and paying temporary resources. A deep understanding of applicant tracking systems, human resource information systems, IT/asset provisioning technology, and accounting/finance systems will play a critical role in ensuring that temporary workers are able to start assignments quickly and be productive contributors from the time they arrive.

Following the implementation phase, managers can work with MSPs in a very straightforward yet productive way. When a manager wants to hire a temporary worker, the MSP will begin by hosting an intake call to gather key assignment information and benchmarking the role. The MSP then posts the position in the VMS to approved staffing vendors, which submit candidates who are then screened by the MSP. The top candidates selected through this process are subsequently submitted to the hiring managers for their consideration.

After the managers review the candidates’ qualifications, the MSP schedules interviews and the managers select the candidate they believe is the best fit for the position. The staffing supplier who originally submitted the candidate will make the offer and conduct pre-employment screening and onboarding, while the MSP supports the manager in preparing for the candidate’s first day. Once the staffing supplier confirms that the candidate has completed the onboarding process and provides the candidate with details regarding the first day of work, the assignment will start and the MSP activates the VMS work order to enable the worker to submit his or her weekly timesheet.

Although the traditional “MSP VMS” model typically encompasses workforce requisitions and temporary worker selection, onboarding/offboarding, timekeeping and reporting, these programs can be enhanced far beyond the typical functions. Specifically, certain MSPs may also be able to facilitate talent lifecycle technology and services, payrolling services, independent contractor compliance, and intern program design. Infusing modern recruitment strategies and cutting-edge technology can enhance the traditional MSP strategy to create further opportunities for cost containment and total talent management.

Given all these services, managers can reap many benefits from MSPs, as they provide critical tools they need to become more productive and more focused on core responsibilities.

About The Author

Rebecca Cenni-Leventhal is CEO and founder of Atrium, a staffing and contingent workforce solutions firm that offers clients a consultative and personalized approach to their talent management needs. Atrium services high-profile startups, midsize companies, and Fortune 500 companies in nearly all industries.