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Re-engineering the “R” in Contingent Workforce Management QBR

by: Dawnette Cook, VP Program Management
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In the alphabet soup of business acronyms, the QBR is the quarterly business review. It is an opportunity for client and MSP provider to pause from the usual frantic pace of day-to-day deadline racing to actually talk to one another. It’s a chance to look at big picture strategy. What are the goals of the business? How can a strategic workforce partner contribute to the achievement of those goals? The challenge is where you put the emphasis in QBR. The Q gives you a timeframe for discussion. The B gives you the topic, but is it the business of the MSP or the business of the client? Where should you be focusing your discussion? The R is what often puts a stranglehold on any meaningful discussion. If you spend the bulk of your time looking backward, it’s suddenly time to wrap up just when things tend to get interesting… when you start to look forward to where the business is headed and how a smart workforce strategy can make a meaningful contribution to the journey. Consider re-engineering the R in QBR to signify a roadmap to the future rather than a review of the past. Then the QBR can become a strategic discussion of potential rather than a recap of old news.

The Evolution of the QBR

As little as five years ago, a QBR was almost strictly data based. The growth in adoption of VMS technology and MSP programs since the “turn of the century” offered amazing transparency and insight into the metrics that govern contingent workforce management. Access to metrics was the shiny new toy. Prior to that time, many businesses had no idea where their money was going and what value they derived from their workforce investments. As with all things new, the initial shine has dulled over time, so that today we can tell a data-driven story with just two or three slides. Meeting SLAs is a given. KPIs can be tracked from a dashboard without waiting for a quarterly report card. That said, it’s absolutely right for a client and their MSP partner to celebrate achievements when they are together, but a quarterly sit-down is a rare enough opportunity for a face-to-face with decision makers that it should not be squandered on retrospective numbers alone. It is a chance to take advantage of the brainstorming possibilities, to discuss strategy and establish new direction. So what should a client expect from a QBR?

Less Data and More Dialogue

When you have established satisfaction levels north of 90% and near-perfect achievement of SLAs, where do you take your contingent workforce program? The most glaring gap in perception between the value an MSP can deliver as a strategic partner and what clients really want is the disparity surrounding program innovation. The QBR is a perfect platform for exploring client appetite for innovation. An MSP partner can bring to the client a fairly broad view of the contingent workforce landscape. The MSP has in-depth knowledge of what other companies are doing, what’s trending in the industry, how economic shifts impact the cost and availability of talent and how it all potentially ties into client aspirations. As a strategic partner, the MSP can help a client transform program excellence into competitive advantage. That requires a discussion that travels far beyond the traditional metrics of contingent workforce acquisition. For example:

  • The growing shift in program focus from metrics to analytics
  • The evolving role of HR in driving greater collaboration in managing the traditional employee and the non-employee workforce
  • Increasing reliance on contingent labor to achieve strategic goals
  • Growth in both spend and the desire to better manage the dollars spent on services procurement (i.e., SOW)
  • Increasing acceptance of the value potential of “total talent management” to leverage a singular set of processes, strategies and technologies for managing both traditional and contract talent under a centralized banner

MSP’s Role in Driving Strategy to the Next Level

A forward-focused MSP partner should be using the QBR to explore opportunities for greater value generation. It should be identifying ongoing cost savings, leveraging workforce analytics and blueprinting timely strategic growth for both geographic reach and solution coverage. It should be forecasting the value other service offerings could add to the program. It should be showcasing best practices in employee engagement, recruitment and management of multiple generations, candidate referral programs, retention tactics and employer branding. To add real strategic value, the QBR should evolve into a strategy and alignment session that explores possibilities for the future. Use the QBR to celebrate the past but also to plan the future.
Would you rather walk away from a QBR discussion benumbed by numbers or buzzing with possibilities? Review of the past quarter or roadmap for the future? Tell us what you want.