Notes from the Dark Side
This past month, I crossed over to the dark side. I went from being the fox to the hen – from the “hall monitor” to the unruly 3rd grader. Yes, I’ve gone from Vendor Management to Vendor.
Please check back as I reveal what I learn. I’m excited about this new partnership and helping to expand Vivo’s relationships with our Vendor Managers and Vendor Management Systems. Our CEO, Marilyn Weinstein, says I spend all my time apologizing for their (former!) going-around-the-system ways. In truth, I think I spend my time building bridges and helping us and “them” work toward common goals that benefit client-VMS-agencies in a comprehensive fashion. There IS a circle of life in this process. I believe that if we can value the role one another plays as a symbiotic relationship, then everyone’s business flourishes.
Level the Playing Field.
When I traded in my Vendor Management uniform for a staffing team jersey, I made a switch from umpire to batter-up. I am no longer responsible for enforcing game rules or calling out strikes and fouls on my staffing vendors. From my new vantage point on the field, competing with other experienced agencies, I’m content on positioning myself well at the home plate, making a good play, and hitting a home run candidate hire! I enjoy the competition and I love the game…. Though as a hitter, while rounding the bases, what I find challenging is that we’re not on an even playing field.
This is where I see the issue: whilst IT hiring managers report to their own internal businesses and simply need their project/product staff augmentation needs met; Vivo can diligently provide those resources. The same client, though, has a procurement and/or HR organization that has put a VMS program in place that is designed to meet the client’s over-arching business goals. While it appears easy enough to align individual hiring manager needs with the company-wide workforce management objectives, it rarely is. We all know that within a mid to large corporation there can be an “us versus them” attitude between departments or business, and IT has a reputation for fostering that mindset. It can feel as though we’re a supplier trying to touch all the bases for the hiring manager depending on us without a VMS yelling “you’re out!” mid-way through our sprint.
My CEO is happy to play by all the VMS rules and hired me, in part, to ensure we’re able to do that. The frustration occurs when we become the only supplier working through the VMS while our competitors happily avoid the defined process and see success as a result. What occurs is this: Vivo accepts the system-generated requisition, submits candidates, and communicates with the VMS on-site. Competitors are aware of the reqs and go directly to the hiring managers for a direct fill. At this point the hiring manager pressures the VMS into accepting the pre-identified competitor candidate and awards the rogue vendor a contract and placement. In this scenario, Vivo plays by the rules not knowing the umpire is facilitating a whole other ballgame at the same time. Again, the manager only wants the job filled for his/her IT organization. The VMS reports to procurement or HR and has to capture the req, spend, and headcount. Vivo may follow the VMS rules, but the ultimate hire decision comes from Ms. Manager who may get the req in the VMS system at some point, but enjoys the trusted relationship s/he has with an agency. This leaves me in an odd position. Shall I stick with the VMS and hope that they and their procurement/HR sponsors can force all req’s to be competitively bid through their system? Or should I make sure I foster my own manager relationships with the client knowing those few direct placements are better than none, even if it means annoying the VMS? Where the VMS and client end users have differing agendas, how can we level the playing field and promote true competition for placements?
Tune in to find the answers to these questions in my next blog.