You are prepping for your RFP – How to get the answers to the questions that really matter as you source a talent solution.
Sourcing a Talent Solution? “’Tis the season!” This phrase isn’t just for the upcoming holiday season, though it probably instills a certain sense of excitement and trepidation all at once!
The season we are talking about is RFP season! It’s that time of year when indirect procurement managers think about sourcing and identifying talent solutions that will help their organization manage contingent labor. There, of course, are a variety of solutions that can be sourced to do this. The list goes on: VMS, direct sourcing, staffing, payrolling and IC compliance, MSP, rate intelligence platforms, and background screening providers. So as 2022 approaches its end, 2023 will undoubtedly see an influx of contingent workforce RFPs hit the market.
As someone responding to RFPs for over two decades, I have seen good RFPs and not-so-good RFPs. And since the “Season of giving” is fast approaching, I thought I would share perspective on how you can create an effective RFP and process that gets you the information needed to make a sound business decision – and cut through the tedious stuff that really doesn’t matter.
Tip #1: Identify pain points and why they need to be fixed
Too many RFPs get issued that simply state, “We are looking for a solution.” They stop short of identifying and prioritizing the symptoms of pain the organization faces. While cost savings is a common goal, the pain usually goes much deeper than budgets. You are struggling to find talent. Perhaps there is not a system of record that can provide the desired reporting visibility and process automation. Maybe compliance and co-employment risk are hot buttons for HR and legal groups. The organization may lack expertise around contingent labor to effectively manage a program. Diversity and inclusion goals might play a more significant role today than in the past. Or it could be that you can’t get hiring managers to engage your program the way you want them to because it is not a simple process.
Whatever the pain, it needs to be validated with internal stakeholders. This includes anyone involved in the contingent labor lifecycle – hiring managers, HR and Talent Acquisition, IT, Finance and Accounting Operations, and Legal. So many times, one symptom leads to another pain point for another group. So do the research internally with the right people, document it, and prioritize it. Be sure to include this in your RFP so that bidders can understand what will constitute a solution that your stakeholders will utilize.
Many organizations, especially those launching Gen 1 programs, may not have the expertise or capacity to assess their own current state and identify the potential data and pain points. In such cases, don’t hesitate to engage a consulting outfit with expertise in the space. The additional perspective a skilled third party delivers to your team can shave time off your sourcing lifecycle.
Tip #2: Don’t leave them guessing
There are two schools of thought about the sharing of data in an RFP.
- Approach #1, “The Gray Area” RFP: Share as little as possible, forcing bidders to make assumptions and perhaps get someone to bid aggressively to drive pricing down. Bidders present various solutions based on the information available, providing “apples to oranges” choices to your team.
- Approach #2, “The Definitive” RFP: Share data proactively, allowing bidders to make intelligent bids based on the “demographics” of your opportunity and how your firm utilizes contingent labor. This includes spend and headcount information by skillset and location, tenure rules and averages, payment terms, and conversion policies. Bidders present informed bids that provide “apples to apples” choices to your team.
It’s probably not a surprise that Approach #2 is the preferred approach by suppliers. After all, the shared data allows them to bid with visibility to the utilization of contingent labor and better project the resources required to support the implementation and the ongoing management of the solution. Furthermore, visibility to the client’s pain points allows focus on the solution design and service models, potentially identifying technology elements that can promote stakeholder utilization of the solution. This can influence the VMS partners that an MSP may bring to the table of the direct sourcing platforms recommended.