Silence the Noise around Supplier Enablement Solutions
Whether your favorite deal-maker is Monty Hall or Wayne Brady, everyone can relate to the agonizing decisions of the long-running Let’s Make a Deal game show’s contestants. They know their ultimate choice of door #1, curtain #2 or box #3 could yield a fabulous vacation, a sleek new car or very possibly, a goat zonk. Yet they have only moments to make a decision while a crowd screams and shouts out their own choices. Staffing firms face a similar conundrum as they attempt to make rational decisions about how best to invest in their businesses to accelerate growth and profitability. The first thing they need to do is turn down the volume and quiet all the noise around technology alternatives that obscure a clear route to results.
The Source of All the Noise
In moving toward a decision, some firms will focus on the candidate pipeline; others will invest in business development; still others will look at process changes that can streamline operations and yield productivity improvements. Since the latter is exactly what supplier enablement can do, let’s assume the choice has been narrowed down to supplier enablement solutions to generate the most transformative changes and secure a clear competitive advantage. The next choice to make is how to achieve the results you want. With continual bombardment about what’s cool and what’s new in technology―from sophisticated standalone apps to innovative plug-ins to sleek workarounds―there is a growing crescendo of well… noise:
- Build or buy?
- Bolt on supplier management to your existing ATS?
- Expand your CRM?
- Look to the cloud?
What’s needed is a quick means to muffle the noise and set out a clear decision path to supplier enablement by digitally integrating third-party vendors into the staffing supply chain. One way to shut down the noise is to look inward, but will investing in a homegrown solution deliver the best return on your investment? Another way to hit the mute button on competing solutions is to go with the familiar, i.e., look to a current vendor to create a workaround to accommodate your needs. Just keep in mind that there’s a reason for all those old expressions like “familiarity breeds contempt.”
What’s the Strategic Goal?
When deciding how to leverage investment dollars to support performance goals, you need answers.
- Can the technology boost productivity?
- Is it proven?
- Does it drive the right behaviors and tie back to business objectives?
- How will it impact revenue?
- Is it cost-effective?
- Will it create more value than alternative choices?
Align the Solution with Tactical Goals
That last question is a critical one. In the current market, where demand for talent far exceeds supply, one of the biggest challenges any staffing firm faces is the need for “product.” A strong candidate pipeline is the life blood of any staffing company. That is why almost every firm relies to some degree on third-party vendors to fulfill client needs. Enabling that pipeline to help you get candidates to market quicker should be at the heart of any solution. The right technology should offer staffing firms the opportunity to automate, accelerate, expand, improve and even monetize talent sourcing from third-party providers. And it should do all that without compromise, without workarounds, without falling short, without exchanging one headache for another.
What Solution to Choose
Without a dedicated technology solution, third-party vendors may be managed in any number of unstructured ways: by Post-Its on a recruiter’s desk, by emails, by spreadsheets. While these may be born of long-term relationships, they rarely reflect a focused strategy, primarily because of an inability to easily track or measure performance. Technology solutions can automate, organize and streamline disjointed processes, but there are few solutions that are custom built for supplier enablement.
CRM adaptations will allow you to organize your contacts and streamline communications, but they are ruled by workarounds.
Custom-built solutions can address all of a company’s needs, but they are costly to develop and maintain.
An ATS with a vendor portal also requires some form of customization and adaptation, keeping in mind that a square peg―even one shaved and shaped to smooth out the hard edges―will never fit comfortably in a round hole.
A dedicated supplier management system offers a cloud-based solution that is focused solely on the third-party supply chain. It will allow you to streamline supplier administration, structure candidate submittals, accelerate time to fill and coverage rates, issue electronic notifications, provide real-time data and feedback to suppliers and promote stronger supply partner engagement.
This quick comparison of two alternatives highlights some of the key differences between a supplier-adapted solution and a supplier-enabled solution:
|ATS Portals||SaaS-based Supplier Management|
|Core Value Proposition||Applicant tracking||Supplier enablement|
|Pricing||Traditional ATS||Vendor funded/cost neutral|
|Delivery Mode||Software alone||True SaaS: software-enabled with hands-on support|
|Exclusivity||Designed for specific ATS customers||ATS agnostic|
Over the last decade, amid lots and lots of technology “noise,” most staffing firms have successfully integrated their front and back offices, creating a seamless flow from CRM and applicant tracking to payroll and billing, while making those critical connections from operations to enterprise financial systems. If these successes represent lower-hanging fruit, then hidden much higher in the branches are the haphazard arrangements for third-party suppliers. In turning to supply chain optimization to deliver faster fills, internal efficiencies and greater profitability, tune out the noise about solutions that can almost meet all of your needs or adapt to sort of meet your needs. Put on your noise-canceling headphones and shoot straight for a dedicated supplier enablement solution that will meet all of your needs.
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