Category Archives: MSP

When You Look for Quality Talent, Discounts Don’t Apply

by: Karen Gonzalez , Senior VP of Global Sales

Talent (or the lack thereof) is cited at or near the top of almost every list of current business challenges. Whether it is termed a skills gap, a war on talent or a constricted supply chain, it all points to a severe shortage of the human capital that powers commerce. When you have positions to fill, you need to find individuals with the skills, experience, character and motivation to match your requirements. Quality is critical. Speed is a bonus. Low cost is likely wishful thinking. In fact, focusing solely on standard talent acquisition metrics, such as bill rate or cost of hire, may turn out to be a costly mistake in the long run.

Can Cost Be Ignored?

Absolutely not. Cost continues to be a driving force behind contingent workforce management programs. In fact, in the latest Staffing Industry Analyst (SIA) Buyers Survey, employers cited reducing and controlling costs as the second highest MSP program priority (behind improving internal customer service). What is important to understand is that there are lots of ways that your MSP partner can help you save money, beyond the basics of rate rationalization, process streamlining, program standards, etc. Selecting a staffing supplier based on the lowest pay and bill rates or focusing solely on cost of hire are not necessarily the only or the best solutions to cost control, especially in a market where skills gaps continue to widen and business leaders repeatedly cite the shortage of talent as a critical deterrent to growth. A more sensible approach is to consider the total cost of hire, focusing on quality, value and return on investment.

A Closer Look at Total Cost of Hire

While securing contingent labor does not carry the typical tax and benefit burdens of a direct hire, there are still downstream economic impacts from making the right hire. The highest-quality candidates, most closely matched to your staffing requirements, will potentially deliver greater engagement, higher productivity, better performance and lower turnover (i.e., higher assignment completion). They will ease into your workplace with the least disruption to the rest of your staff and will quickly contribute to advancing your goals. Poor matches, whether defined by skills, experience or cultural affinity, can have the opposite impact. They can negatively impact your ability to execute plans, delay project completion, damage employee morale and require additional supervisory focus. The bottom line is that decisions based on initial price alone can increase other direct and indirect operating costs.

A Case in Point

Bartech developed an innovative total cost of ownership model for one client that captured $12.5 million in hard savings for in-scope spend. Bartech applied its rate management methodology, which employs a proprietary bill rate calculator as part of a competitive bid process. This calculator captures the costs of wages, employment and supplier overhead, providing full visibility into the bill rate. It also applies a benchmarked and acceptable multiplier for selling, general and administrative expenses and profit. We used this tool to establish a gain-share value proposition, generating client savings equal to 8% of spend for skill areas within the bid network in year five of our MSP engagement.


The talent acquisition process incorporates a number of levers that can be adjusted to reduce the overall cost of hire without excluding the market’s best candidates. Your MSP partner can help you explore innovative ways to save money without negatively impacting the ability of the suppliers in your network to secure the talent you need in a tight labor market.

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

by: Dawnette Cook, VP Program Management

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.

An insider’s view of MSP … from an outsider’s perspective

by: Mark Sawicki


An insider’s view of MSP… from an outsider’s perspective

So here I sit, 90+ days into a new job, a new company, a new team and a new industry, amazed at how much more there is to the world of the MSP and contingent workforce management than I already knew. And I thought I knew a lot. With more than 20 years of experience in operational leadership for publishing, media and internet companies as well as HR/management advisory roles in the retail, pharma, construction and hotel industries; I had firsthand knowledge of how organizations can optimize people, process and technology to impact results. I did not, however, fully appreciate the cornucopia of colors, shapes, textures and flavors available to an employer that views an MSP as a strategic partner in workforce management. Far more than a means to optimize the human capital supply chain, the MSP can unlock the potential of the workforce to drive competitive advantage.

Sharing a few highlights of my exploration of the MSP in contingent workforce management.

One of the reasons I was invited to join the Bartech team was for the fresh perspective I brought to the business, it makes sense to me to share some of my observations after immersing myself in the space. Hopefully, the views of a recent transplant will provide some insight to those who are trying to better understand/plan their approach, and just maybe, there will be a couple of nuggets in here that open some of the veterans’ eyes (or at least confirm their thinking/approach).

Whether you insource or outsource your contingent workforce program management, just do it!

The value of creating a program management office is well documented. If you haven’t explored it to date, you will find that implementing a program will drive consistent and improved processes, cost savings and better relationships with suppliers, contingent workers and your employees.

Leverage the VMS technology available to you and always push for solutions that work for your business.

I’ve spent time with most of the top VMS technology providers over the last three months, and it’s clear they can all deliver very viable solutions to help automate your processes. That said, they each have slightly different go-forward strategies from a solution and user-interface perspective. They also have very different personalities. If you’re considering utilizing (or changing) a VMS system, be sure to listen to all of their pitches and look to build a relationship with the team that would be supporting you going forward. They will be your best friends!

Start with reporting, end with analytics.

Everybody is talking about big data and the same is true in the staffing and contingent workforce space. If you’re just getting your program started, be sure to use that data to improve visibility, crystallize understanding and influence decision making. As your program matures, you need to determine how best to leverage all of that data to make better day-to-day, real-time decisions about what your team needs, when you need it.

At the end of the day, staffing is still all about the people.

The staffing industry is, and always will be, about people. Sure, technology automation has introduced a ton of efficiency, which companies absolutely need to take advantage of, but we can’t forget that it’s the people and the relationships we have with those people that will make programs successful. Whether it’s your suppliers, your core staff, your VMS or MSP partners or your contingent staff, building relationships that are based on open, honest feedback and solution-driven approaches will result in a successful program.

There is still much to learn and much to do.

Sometimes it feels a bit like “drinking from a firehose,” but it’s a really dynamic drink. I’m glad I made the move. It’s an exciting time to be in staffing and contingent workforce management. Every day, I see more of the tremendous potential we have, to transform how we all work in the future – in ways that will drive greater productivity, greater engagement and greater results for all of us.

Making Your Workforce Analytics Data Work Harder

By: Brian Salkowski – Bartech Managed Services

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Data by Itself Is Little More than Noise; Make Your Data Sing!

Rearview mirrors identify potential hazards approaching from behind. Windshields are not only far bigger; they provide a clear view of where you are going. If you are a contingent workforce program manager, it’s likely you have sat through numerous business reviews in which your managed service provider (MSP) shared tons of data, giving you unprecedented visibility into your contingent workforce program. As valuable as it is to understand your contingent workforce from a historical perspective, there is even more value in knowing what the future holds. If you can use the data you collect to drive decisions for your organization, you will have a greater competitive talent advantage.

Moving Your Contingent Workforce Program Forward

While new contingent workforce program managers are happy to get data for the first time, more mature programs offer an opportunity to capitalize on all the available historical data to drive decision making. If knowledge is power, the benefits of contingent workforce analytics are vast and can drive program innovation. It can help you make prescriptive statements about what is likely to happen in the future and why. The advent of data analytics, employing leading-edge predictive algorithms, is making it possible to uncover new intelligence about the current workforce and future requirements. Not only does this help a company hire and retain the right resources at the right prices, but it also facilitates the identification of program improvements that can be made in current workforce programs based on actual data and results.

Explore the Possibilities with Workforce Analytics

Mine your data to understand root causes and make predictions about where issues are most probable to surface in the future. You can determine, for example, where turnover risk is highest and then build retention strategies for those locations most at risk. Examining a data point such as time to proficiency can help you structure assignment length for peak proficiency. If engagement is most vulnerable at the six-month mark, is it most acute in a certain skill set or pay rate? Can you use that information to adjust the career ladder? Think of the money saved by proactive vs. reactive decision making, supported by historical data. VMS technology offers an almost infinite amount of data that can be tracked and used to uncover issues and potential solutions that were virtually impossible to see in the past.

Empower Contingent Workforce Planning with Workforce Analytics

Work with your MSP as a strategic workforce partner to assess risks and uncover opportunities. Your MSP partner can take your data (data that is already captured as part of your program) and drill it down to a more granular level. It can then match your program data to external sources to assess your position in the market. Looking at multi-client aggregate data, industry benchmarks, government databases and market trends – it can scan the competitive landscape for key indicators, such as labor supply, rates, geographic markers, etc. By analyzing your data with an eye to the future, your MSP partner can help you move your firm forward. It can identify the best position in the market to capture the talent you need to grow and deploy it most effectively for the greatest advantage.

Bartech Named World’s Leading MSP

By: David Barfield, CEO

In its definitive ranking of the world’s leading managed service providers (MSP), HRO Today placed Bartech in the #1 position, naming us the best of the best in its MSP Baker’s Dozen.

We never set out to be the biggest, but we have always dedicated ourselves to being the best… the best in quality, the best in service, the best in value. As the MSP Baker’s Dozen rankings are based solely on client feedback, it is incredibly gratifying to know that our clients recognize and appreciate the dedication of the Bartech team. I am proud to lead such an outstanding group of professionals, committed to serving each and every Bartech client as a trusted strategic partner.

As the leading benchmark for service provider differentiation, the Baker’s Dozen serves as an important barometer of quality and value for those new to the industry. It also serves to continually set the bar higher, pushing providers to essentially up their game, partnering with clients to uncover new ways to drive strategic value in the temporary labor market. We welcome that challenge.

When Bartech entered the contingent workforce management space in 1998, we traversed a frontier at the brink of transformation. Operating with little structure or governance, the introduction of innovative VMS technology provided the means to establish a solid framework for order and stability in talent acquisition. As revolutionary as that technology disruptor was to the industry, there remained a clear gap that was swiftly filled by the managed service provider. Our role at the time was that of facilitator. We introduced disciplined processes, encouraged value-based relationships and blazed a new trail to talent leadership. Doing so delivered substantial benefits to our clients in the form of lower cost, reduced risk, improved efficiency, higher quality of talent and greater transparency across the board.

The workforce and the nature of work continue to evolve, as does the role of the MSP. We work in close partnership with clients every day, guiding their journey to transform the process of talent acquisition in pursuit of a high-performance workforce that is actively engaged in supporting and advancing client goals for growth and profitability. This is an exciting time to stand at the edge of discovery in a changing landscape, where value is measured not merely in dollars and cents but in creating opportunities to leverage the inherent value of the workforce as a competitive advantage.