What are the 5 benefits of a motivated supply chain?

Paul Blackborow Paul Blackborow Supplier Engagement & Services Consultant

Paul Blackborow – KellyOCG Supplier Engagement & Services Consultant – explores the ways that positive and proactive supply chain management can drive the success of an MSP programme.

Talent suppliers are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to successfully engaging and retaining contingent workers as part of a managed service provider (MSP) programme. Active and engaged client stakeholders and an expert workforce solutions provider are the other key elements that allow a programme to thrive. Even so, supplier relationships and engagement – or lack of it – can make or break the most robust of contingent programmes.

Suppliers must have access to effective tools and ongoing support to be able to step up and succeed. Without this targeted and evolving support, they are likely to withdraw, underperform, and perhaps disengage altogether.

I work with suppliers across EMEA, APAC, and the US, and I know that building a motivated supply chain is easier said than done. It’s crucial to consider geographical, cultural, and individual supplier needs to hone relationships that serve a programme well. This takes a significant investment of time and effort, but it’s worth it. Ultimately, a motivated supply chain will empower an organisation to outcompete others for talent, enabling them to meet and exceed their goals faster.

In this blog, I take a closer look at the benefits of building a motivated supply chain and the reasons that both talent providers and organisations can’t afford to ignore this crucial community.

What is a motivated supply chain?

Simply, it’s about connecting and collaborating with suppliers in ways that promote their success and drives active and consistent engagement in a programme. At KellyOCG, this often means working with suppliers to understand their strengths so that we can connect them with the right programmes, holding regular supplier conferences, offering supplier accolades, or providing a responsive point of contact so that they always have somewhere to share queries or concerns.

Motivated supply chain benefits

1. Operational efficiency

When we roll out a new MSP programme, this means bringing in new ways of working, new processes, and new technologies, and often introducing all of these changes within an existing supply chain. If we don’t actively engage and motivate suppliers to work inside a programme, then operational efficiency can quickly trickle away. A poorly motivated supplier will often ‘work around’ processes, connecting directly with hiring managers. This means important information isn’t captured, leading to carefully thought-out processes breaking down, alongside compliance and cost-saving issues. Poor operational efficiency can also have a knock-on effect on suppliers themselves, leaving them working more slowly and less effectively.

2. Proper alignment

For a supply chain to work effectively, it needs to have the right suppliers in the right place. This means understanding which suppliers are most effective in which specialisms. In a motivated supply chain, suppliers feel comfortable having honest conversations about their strengths and are more likely to end up in the right places in the right programmes.

At KellyOCG, we use a capabilities matrix for our MSP programmes, which helps us to organise suppliers effectively, and we monitor this effectiveness through regular analytics and conversations. By working with suppliers to really understand their strengths, we find that we can recommend them across a range of other programmes. Our historical data shows that smaller distribution lists aligned to suppliers’ top capabilities and skill sets not only benefits overall programme metrics but also provides better opportunities to suppliers.

3. Better transparency

Suppliers want insights. How are they performing against other suppliers? What can they do better? What do future hiring needs look like? By promoting supplier transparency across the board, solutions providers can help suppliers and clients to gain a deeper understanding of programme performance, supplier performance, and future challenges, promoting greater transparency in return. We support ongoing transparency through our best-in-class Helix Analytics, which includes robust scorecards, performance reviews, and predictive analytics, alongside regular supplier summits. When cooperation, honesty, and collaboration are cornerstones of our supplier relationships, we find suppliers are more likely to prioritise KellyOCG programmes.

4. More opportunities

Motivated and effective supply chains power opportunities for everyone. Solutions providers are more likely to recommend suppliers across other programmes. Suppliers are more likely to recommend solutions providers to their network. Clients have more opportunities to access the very best talent and most sought-after skills. It creates a truly level playing field, particularly inside vendor-neutral MSP programmes and for smaller suppliers.

5. Stronger partnerships

When you strip away complex processes and technology, the relationship between supplier and solutions provider is a very human partnership. And the more engaged a supplier is in a programme, the more productive and successful that partnership becomes. One of the most important ways we have found to motivate suppliers at KellyOCG is by giving them a clear voice – a space where they can share feedback without compromising their status and reputation within the programme.

Our Supplier Advisory Council meets quarterly, discussing current market trends and topics related to sales opportunities, product development, and process collaboration. This not only allows suppliers to share their insights more loudly, but it also delivers crucial market insights for our clients. Recognition is another important aspect of deepening partnerships, and in 2022, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our annual Kelly Global Supplier Excellence Awards, formally recognising our top performers from across our enterprise for the previous year.

Supplier relationships are too often overlooked in conversations about contingent talent management. But without dedicated, talented, and experienced suppliers, a programme can’t deliver on its most basic function – engaging effectively with the people an organisation needs to succeed. I believe it’s time to put those supplier relationships firmly in the spotlight and recognise that only with a highly motivated supply chain can an MSP programme truly thrive.


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