By Tiffany Steppenbacker, Senior Manager of Strategic Relationships at Advance Partners
With the close of the year fast approaching, staffing firms are gearing up for 2024. And one question on the mind of many staffing owners is whether it’s the right time to embrace a vendor management system (VMS). Alternatively, for those already using one, the concern is: am I fully optimizing its capabilities?
My team and I have witnessed firsthand the advantages of integrating a VMS into your staffing business strategy – whether it is implementing one yourself or choosing to work with clients who use one. And for those who have a VMS currently, I can also offer insights into best practices for surmounting the hurdles.
What is a vendor management system (VMS)?
Let’s start with the basics. A vendor management system, often abbreviated as VMS, is a technological platform that serves as the linchpin between staffing firms and their clients. It acts as a centralized hub for managing a wide array of processes within the staffing industry such as sourcing, recruiting, onboarding, compliance management, and more.
Overcoming VMS challenges
While the appeal of winning new business with a VMS is undeniable, certain challenges may hinder staffing firm leaders during the adoption process. Let’s explore some best practices for overcoming these obstacles:
- Choose the right provider: When choosing a VMS vendor, thorough research, recommendations, and an evaluation of their track record, customer feedback, and industry expertise are essential. A reliable VMS provider should offer scalability and adaptability to meet your specific needs. If you are working with a customer and don’t get to choose the provider, instead you can get a thorough understanding of that particular workflow.
- Get buy-in: Resistance to change happens! To ease the transition to VMS adoption, you’ve got to effectively communicate the long-term benefits. Engaging key stakeholders including leadership, recruiters, and IT personnel in the decision-making process and proactively addressing their concerns will help.
- Train and educate: A VMS can be tricky to navigate. That’s why comprehensive training is crucial to ensure that your team can effectively navigate the VMS platform. Familiarizing your staff with the system’s functionalities and promoting continuous learning is key to maximizing VMS potential.
- Assign a VMS team: You’re going to want a go-to staff member or team on VMS. Designate a dedicated team or manager to oversee VMS operations, troubleshoot issues, and serve as a bridge between your organization and the VMS provider.
- Implement KPIs: Choose key performance indicators (KPIs) to track the impact of VMS adoption on your business. Regularly reviewing these metrics will aid in identifying areas for improvement and making necessary VMS adjustments.
The advantages of a VMS
VMS have been instrumental in helping staffing firms compete for business, especially with larger clients. They also help refine operations and aid in compliance. But beyond these widely acknowledged merits, there are also lesser-known benefits that make VMS an indispensable asset in your 2024 business planning:
- Real-time data: For data-driven decision making, real-time analytics and performance metrics hold immense significance. VMS platforms furnish in-depth data insights that empower staffing firms to make informed decisions – which helps you stay ahead of market trends and client needs.
- Revenue opportunities: Although implementing a VMS or choosing to work with one takes an initial investment, it often yields long-term cost savings and revenue opportunities. The automation of administrative tasks, error reduction, and risk mitigation in non-compliance all allow you to trim operational expenses while increasing revenue from new opportunities.
- Efficient onboarding: A VMS can drastically streamline the client onboarding process. Standardized workflows, automated document management, and customizable reporting project professionalism and reliability to clients from the outset.
- Simplified user experience: Modern job candidates expect a personalized, easy experience. VMS platforms offer the means to deliver an improved candidate experience by simplifying application procedures, providing real-time communication, and ensuring punctual payments. Many VMS platforms integrate with payroll platforms, making the transition easier.
VMS management best practices
While many staffing firm owners have already integrated a VMS into their business plan, a significant number may not be leveraging its full potential. Here are some best practices for effective VMS management based on what we see with our clients:
- Communicate: Establish open and regular communication channels with your VMS provider. Ensure alignment on goals, expectations, and any system updates or changes.
- Assign a dedicated admin: Designate a VMS administrator within your organization to oversee day-to-day operations, troubleshoot issues, and facilitate communication between your team and the VMS provider.
- Check the data: Uphold data accuracy and consistency by enforcing data entry standards. Your reporting is only as good as the data you put in!
- Compare time weekly: Ensuring that time in the system matches up with what you know to be true on a weekly basis is key. If it’s not in the system, don’t wait – contact your VMS billing issue help system immediately.
- Harness customization: Harness the customization features of your VMS to tailor the platform to your firm’s unique needs, aligning it with your distinct business processes and client requirements.
- Review any rejected time immediately: If you are seeing rejected time in your system, it’s important to keep up on it and make sure that you are following up to correct and resubmit.
- Have a central mailbox for communications: Make sure that communications like remittances and weekly reports are going to a central mailbox and not to a single person in your office. That way communications won’t be missed if that person is out!
By embracing these best practices, staffing firms can effectively manage their VMS and use it to its maximum potential.
As you embark on your 2024 business planning journey, don’t underestimate the potential that a well-executed vendor management system can bring to your staffing firm! If you take the proper steps to address challenges, a VMS can empower your organization to take your staffing business to the next level.
Tiffany is the Senior Manager of Strategic Relationships at Advance Partners. She currently leads the Relationship Management department consisting of an experienced team of Client Relationship managers. Tiffany is hyper-focused on monitoring trends in the market to help our clients make the best business decision possible. She takes a consultative approach in every scenario to help solution for our clients. A big focus of that solutioning is on VMS and other payment platforms that may be complex to understand.