There are many ways to reduce the complexities involved in temporary workforces. Yet sometimes, in the pursuit of a more straightforward approach, the sheer number of solutions that could be adopted creates even further complication.

Your hiring managers up and down the country know that dealing with their site’s many recruitment agencies isn’t efficient. But when you want to introduce a new approach, there are a myriad of solutions to consider, from the core models of Neutral Vend, Master Vend, Managed Service and RPO to further splinter hybrids and off-shoots, each with their own specific jargon and different technologies.

It can be hard to know where to start. And, even when you have finally chosen your preferred model (and had it embedded for a number of years) you may find other, rival, models start creeping in - which in turn can create noise and confusion against your preferred processes.

One of the most common recruitment models that can suddenly pop up alongside your official approach, is the so-called agency managed service provision.

Agency MSPs typically morph out of a trusted agency partner with a good fill rate and strong hiring manager relationships, taking on some of the additional ancillary recruitment services such as inductions or the provision of PPE. These extra activities are then presented as a managed service provision, but are they really?

A true managed service provision is an end-to-end service which provides a UK-wide solution for an organisation’s hiring activities, with centralised management information and an umbrella view. It is a provision that has contractual responsibility for managing the supply chain and can represent the hiring organisation’s view and achieve its objectives, whilst simultaneously managing any issues that arise in the pursuit of these objectives.

This is very different to, and a far more comprehensive service than, what is typically billed as an agency MSP, which is usually more like an agency ‘plus’ offering. I.E – the usual quality agency service with a few added extras. There are also some drawbacks to asking one agency to provide a managed service, namely vested interests and coverage.

A useful way to compare and contrast the two offerings of Neutral Vendor MSP and an Agency MSP is provided in the following table:

NV v Agency Table.jpg

If you face the situation where an agency supplier is suggesting an agency MSP provision the following should be your key considerations:

  1. Is it really a managed service? What exactly are you going to receive?
  2. Does that meet your expectation of the service you need from an outsourced recruitment partner? And does it meet the expectations of all stakeholders from hiring managers to HQ?
  3. How will it all work in practice across all your sites? It may currently work well to have an onsite presence from a particular agency at a few of your larger hubs, but what will happen at your smallest sites? Is the same service going to be replicated? Will the volumes and margins mean ultimately it will be unsustainable for the agency to keep their commitment long-term?
  4. Will you receive value for money? Inflated costs can quickly pile on for services that do not warrant such significant increases – e.g. inductions and the provision of PPE. You should also consider carefully whether, if you are charged for a service, it is cost effective to pay for the service as a whole - or the amount of the service you actually use (the latter typically being the cost model adopted by neutral vendors).
  5. Finally, are you cannibalising your current model of recruitment (where you may have one), and does this mean that your hard work promoting one process will start to unravel leading to confusion, inefficiencies and ultimately high operating costs for your business?


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