The Inside Scoop on Global Staffing: MSP Lessons from India
Make no mistake, the MSP market has gone global. That’s because, according to SIA’s latest MSP Competitive Landscape report, buyers are looking for better deals, greater levels of service and more innovative solutions.
An MSP deployment abroad can potentially provide those benefits, because the global staffing market is growing for the following reasons:
• Buyers can diversify, relying on more than one economy and one government
• Many markets abroad are riper for staffing expansion than established U.S. markets
• Many global staffing providers possess internal expertise on a specific foreign site
In Asia, for example, we at Staff Management | SMX have applied MSP expertise to a growing staffing market: India.
India, according to a February 2016 SIA report on global staffing markets, has huge untapped potential combined with business-friendly reforms. Plus, according to the IMF, of all global economies, India ranks first in growth of gross domestic product—and is poised to become the third-largest global economy by the next decade.
Executive director Marty Pittman manages MSP operations for Staff Management | SMX in India. According to Marty, “MSP is a newer concept in India. Indian business is very much relationship-based. Because MSP is new, and based on relationships, we have to work hard to show value and demonstrate win-win situations.”
Lending further credence to Marty’s observation is the February 2016 SIA report. Amid all the data on global staffing trends is a kernel of similar advice. According to the report, “Identifying high-growth staffing markets is only part of the story and will require considerable planning, resources and management expertise to be successful.”
Planning, resources and management—each is a tenet of a strong MSP relationship. In India, and in many global MSPs, a strong relationship also rests on early supplier engagement.
In India, early supplier engagement is vital
Engaging suppliers early in the MSP relationship establishes client expectations and avoids costly supplier delays. “The MSP and client will negotiate new terms and SLAs, which flow back to the suppliers. The client often wants more of the benefits in the supplier relationship to swing their way, and they expect the MSP to deliver on this,” said Janice Weiner, VP of Global MSP Solutions. “Understanding the process, relationships, culture and business demands are key to the success of the relationship and the MSP program.”
“Talking to suppliers is vital to ensure the mutual success of all three parties (the MSP, the supplier and the client),” said Marty. “Many of the suppliers have had long-term relationships directly with the client and they see us as trying to disrupt that. We try to provide constant contact to ensure the process remains steady and everything is working as it should.”
Early supplier engagement can sidestep delays
In India, the supplier process—to review and provide redlines—can take much longer than anticipated. Generally, these suppliers are sophisticated and impassioned. Said Janice, “We find that incumbent suppliers, in particular, may resist any changes to terms they once had with the client directly.”
Thus many supplier delays in global staffing are due to the following:
• Concerns over changing what they agreed to with the client
• Requests that they revert to prior client agreements
As a result, negotiations can be protracted and hard-fought. Marty elaborated, “Negotiations can be extremely complex. We have several suppliers that have taken much longer than anticipated.”
Balancing the needs of three parties can cause conflicts, so it’s critical to start communication early. Said Marty, “The conversations and meetings vary over time. Initially, they are focused on the contract process and trying to get agreement to all of our terms and conditions. Next we focus on training and process-oriented materials, all while continuing to build our relationship at multiple levels with the supplier.”
Early supplier engagement builds trust
Gaining the trust and support of the client and the supplier is vital to making the MSP relationship work long term. Continued Marty, “As the relationship matures, we start talking more about the direction of the business for our client, what strategic direction we need to be seeing from the supplier, and sometimes additional business opportunities that may be available.”
Committing to supplier engagement early in the process can often foster a mutual respect that will pay business dividends down the line. But it’s not easy. “Establishing a strong global MSP program, from requisition to supplier procurement to assignment to onboarding, takes an enormous amount of work,” said Janice.
So valuing communication is key. By building on early and frequent communication, your long-term non-employee global staffing will be a success.