Category Archives: Vendor Neutrality

Vendor Neutrality Defined for the Real World

By Eric Koppin, Business Development Executive

Vendor neutrality is a generally misunderstood concept, but its goal should be crystal clear: client success. The goal of a vendor-neutral MSP is to ensure the client gets the most qualified person at the best price, in the most efficient manner, in the least amount of time.

What Does Vendor Neutrality Really Mean?
With misconceptions abounding, differences of opinion on vendor neutrality tend to center around two things:

1. Can a program managed by an MSP that doubles as a staffing vendor truly be vendor neutral?
2. Do all staffing vendors operate on a level playing field?

I would suggest that these questions tend to obscure two important issues:

1. Vendor neutrality does not mean vendor equality.
2. Vendor neutrality refers to the program, not the supply chain structure.

Let’s start with the misconceptions.

Skin in the Game
According to Staffing Industry Analysts, vendor neutrality means: “…ensuring that the process is managed fairly and that orders aren’t steered to an MSP’s own organization.” I would agree.

An MSP should operate with high integrity as an extension of the client’s hiring organization. While it certainly may be possible to do that in a situation with competing profit interests, when there is no staffing stream involved, the question is simply off the table.

Level Playing Field

According to HRO Today, vendor neutrality means: "absence of any bias toward participating vendors, other than as directed by the client."

I would further clarify the HRO Today description by adding to the end of the sentence: " … or the client’s agent," i.e., the MSP. To ensure the best results, vendors should be singled out if it is in the client’s best interest.

Vendor Neutrality Does Not Mean Vendor Equality
All vendors are not created equal. Just as football wouldn’t work if every player was a quarterback, for supply base optimization, it serves the client well to have a structured supply base, with clear and transparent rules, but different roles for vendors based on their ability to meet client needs. All vendors operate on the same field of play, but in different positions. Vendor neutrality is often misrepresented as meaning everyone gets the req at the exact same time. That might be considered neutral but to the client’s detriment.

Vendor Neutrality Refers to the Program, Not the Supply Chain Structure
The two things that drive staffing suppliers are price and preference. If prices are fair and you are one of the few suppliers, if not the only one, to receive a requisition, then more resources and a greater sense of urgency will be given to the requisition. Service level agreements, process transparency and timelines on order release are all rules that can be monitored through program performance metrics. Doing business with fewer, higher-quality suppliers, based on qualitative performance data, will increase productivity and ensure vendor loyalty. A performance-based supply chain lets the cream rise to the top.

My definition of vendor neutrality: An MSP with no staffing skin in the game, plus transparency, integrity and fairness in the process so that all vendors have an equal opportunity to shine. Do you agree?

Vendor Neutrality is Not an Unprofitable Illusion

By David W. Barfield, Chief Executive Officer of The Bartech Group


With regard to the recent commentary about MSPs, I wanted to take this opportunity to weigh in and share how Bartech sees things differently.

While many MSP providers are, in fact, owned by major staffing agencies, many are not, Bartech among them. The expertise, stability, scale and reach that characterize leading MSP providers are not exclusive to a global staffing heritage. Further, the idea that global MSP delivery is only possible through a staffing brand-associated global network of branch locations is simply not true. In fact, an MSP’s true capability to deliver is not tied to an in-country staffing agency model at all. Instead, it is based on the MSP provider’s ability to identify, align and manage quality relationships with the appropriate mix of relevant agencies that comprise the staffing supply chain. This ensures fulfillment without sacrificing either competition or quality.

Some of the confusion surrounding the concept of vendor neutrality likely originates in the seeming incongruity of a staffing supplier’s ability, desire and willingness to manage the fulfillment process and supplier network objectively on the one hand while maintaining corporate cooperation for market share on the other. A truly vendor-neutral MSP is not faced with this challenging conflict.

As an early adopter of the vendor-neutral MSP model, Bartech successfully delivers vendor-neutral MSP solutions in numerous countries today. We have achieved this without a dependence or requirement for biased participation by a staff augmentation channel partner. Our repeated recognition as a “Top 5” provider by HRO Today and an MSP “Top Performer” by Staffing Industry Analysts is a testament to the value we consistently deliver to our clients via a customized vendor-neutral approach to address their continuously evolving workforce needs.