What are the foundations of a successful MSP programme? (And how can you use those as a springboard for innovation?)

Anita Underwood Anita Underwood Director, Service Delivery, EMEA

KellyOCG’s Anita Underwood – Director of Operations, MSP Service Delivery, EMEA – shares her insights on the building blocks of any successful MSP programme and explains why workforce innovation must start from a strong foundation.

Any great (or not so great) managed service provider (MSP) programme is made up of three intricately connected elements – supply chain, workforce solution provider, and client organisation. All these parts have to be working in harmony for a MSP to really sing and ensure a company has access to the right skills at the right time and for the right price.

If a supplier list is bloated and too competitive, it won’t work. If a solutions provider doesn’t have the right expertise or regional knowledge, it won’t work. If client stakeholders are not invested and hiring managers are able to work outside the program, it won’t work. This means that though MSP programmes can offer incredible value and results, there are lots of parts that can fail. And getting the foundational elements of a programme right is essential to its success.

I’m incredibly lucky to be part of KellyOCG Central, supporting client MSP programmes across Europe. KellyOCG Central acts as the engine for some incredible MSP programmes, bringing together operations managers, consultants, and local talent experts to drive excellence and help our clients meet their goals. As the organisation that brought the first MSP to market, we understand the building blocks that support exceptional MSP performance and focus continually on creating space for new ideas.

In this blog, I take a closer look at some of these blocks and how they can help to power innovation.

Workforce expertise

Choosing an MSP partner without deep workforce expertise and experience is a shortcut to failure. But it goes beyond general industry knowledge. For an MSP programme to function at its best, the provider should have strong experience in both an organisation’s sector and the type of talent they are focused on. In addition, a solid understanding of the regional markets they operate in is foundational to programme success. Each MSP programme is unique, and the best providers will take that past experience and shape it into a customised approach to serve an organisation’s overarching goals.

Trusted relationships

It takes a lot of people to make an MSP programme work well. Strong relationships between client stakeholders and solution provider, and solution provider and suppliers, are critical to a smooth and successful workforce solution. This takes time and work on the part of the client, provider, and supplier stakeholders. Ultimately, the solution provider is the central hub that brings everyone together and fosters the connections that build trust and programme success.

Local knowledge

Ok, so you know how to access talent in Paris, but how about this small town in Norway? Local legislation, culture, and hiring behaviours are as diverse as the people that make up an organisation. A great programme will adjust its approach based on location and hiring goals. It’s one of the reasons KellyOCG Central’s global, largely remote team is so successful. We speak 12 languages, we’ve worked across programmes across almost every corner of Europe, and we always tap into the regional know-how that can make or break a programme.

Best practice excellence

Strong processes = strong MSP programmes. Engaging talent at scale can be complex, and robust best practice processes can ensure that the whole thing doesn’t collapse in on itself. Strong processes and the right technology – usually a vendor management solution (VMS) – ensure that all types of engagements stay compliant, align with an organisation’s internal policies and values, and can be easily scrutinised to review quality and performance.

Supply chain expertise

When a supplier list is bloated, suppliers have no incentive to push their best candidates forward. When a supplier list is sparse, it can be incredibly tough to access the right talent, fast. Building a well-balanced, high-performing and competitive supply chain is key to a successful MSP programme; without it, the skills that an organisation needs to thrive are either inaccessible or unaffordable. But talent supply chain management is ongoing and needs regular data reviews, contract management and score-carding to ensure a supply chain is tailored to the unique needs of a business.

What about innovation?

A MSP programme is a workforce solution with so many moving parts, that trying to innovate without getting the basics right is like trying to drive a car before you’ve finished building the engine. At the same time, in a world of work that’s evolving faster than ever before, innovation is required, and organisations and workforce solutions providers can’t afford to stand still.

At KellyOCG, we’ve spent decades honing our MSP game, and it’s inspired us to break new ground to better serve our clients. These include tech-focused innovations – like our trailblazing Helix UX portal, which acts as a one-stop shop for an organisation’s talent needs – and our KellyOCG Go MSP, which is making MSP solutions simpler, faster, and more accessible for a wider range of businesses.

An organisation should see their MSP programme not as a static, stand-alone solution, but as a constantly shifting and growing resource that moves with talent and company needs. They should consider how it can expand to encompass and support other areas of the business, as well as how it can support wider goals like diversity and inclusion and employee experience. A great MSP is one that’s not only great today, but one that continues to deliver in months, years, and perhaps even decades to come.


Ready to connect with an expert?

Keeping up with the new world of work means adopting creative business strategies, and connecting with the talent who will make a real difference in your field. Lucky for you, it’s what we specialize in.

Contact us at 800.Kelly.01 and one of our agents will administer your request. Or, if you’d prefer, fill out the form to submit an email.