What makes an MSP implementation a great implementation?
KellyOCG’s Sally Bannerman – Senior Director, Global Project Management – shares the ingredients that define a successful MSP implementation.
For organisations and stakeholders, an MSP implementation can seem, at first glance, like an impossible puzzle – there are lots of moving parts to bring together, distinct stakeholder needs to consider, and often serious technology and systems challenges to overcome. So, is the financial and time investment worth it?
Yes, is the short answer. The benefits of a well-integrated MSP system are impossible to ignore, from improved workforce visibility to cost savings, and access to larger and more diverse pools of talent. But implementation has to be approached with care, attention, and – almost always – with the support of a dedicated team of experts.
I’ve been lucky enough to lead MSP implementations around the world, and, after 16 years working in the space, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of implementation experiences. I’ve been there to pick up the pieces of failed (and very expensive) implementations where provider and organisation relations have broken down. I’ve witnessed brilliant subject matter experts working with passionate and invested stakeholders to lead successful and lasting change. And I’ve seen how internal buy-in can make or break an MSP rollout.
Every implementation is unique – but at their heart, all great implementations are an equitable collaboration between dedicated stakeholders and a well-coordinated team of external experts. Here are the five ingredients that I believe are key to every successful implementation.
1. Create a strong stakeholder team
You can have world-leading subject matter experts, supply chain analysts, and solution enablement gurus, but without stakeholder support, an MSP implementation is unlikely to get off the ground. This includes input from senior leadership, finance, HR, procurement, and other key business functions, but it also means the hiring managers who are likely to be directly interacting with an MSP solution every day. We create bespoke implementation strategies for each client we support, and to do this effectively, we need to both understand the current contingent workforce and business processes alongside future needs. Ideally, stakeholders supporting an implementation will mirror the external MSP team, allowing us to match up relevant skills and specialisms. These two groups must work closely to ensure everyone understands what the implementation process will look like, as well as the specific milestones they need to hit along the way.
2. Consider your technology landscape
Tech issues are one of the biggest causes of MSP implementation delays, and this is one of the first challenges that any project team should focus on. Vendor management systems (VMS) usually need to integrate with HR and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and an organisation should quickly identify what data they want and need to integrate and what configuration or development work is needed to make this happen. A best-in-class MSP implementation will enhance current systems and processes to make life easier for everyone who interacts with it. While a strong external MSP project team will make expert recommendations on what integrations make the most sense, and how a company can bring them to life.
3. Avoid conflicting projects
You’ve probably realised by now that an MSP implementation has many intricate parts and needs significant time investment from key internal stakeholders to run smoothly. Ideally, organisations should try and avoid scheduling conflicting large-scale projects that might stretch resources during the busy implementation period. Implementation will be smoother, faster, and more successful if a business has time and space to focus on it.
4. Never underestimate the impact of change
Change management is perhaps the most crucial part of the MSP implementation puzzle. Simply, if you don’t bring people along with you, the most advanced tech and smartest MSP setup will fail. Suppliers and hiring managers will work around it and benefits will go unrealised. This means looking at each stakeholder group – large and small – who will be impacted and ensuring they not only understand the changes being made but see the value that they can bring. This extends across an organisation’s hiring manager community, but also to suppliers and sometimes to contingent workers or contractors.
At KellyOCG, we achieve this through change landscape assessments and fully customised change management processes that reflect all the factors that could impact implementation, including: Is this a first or second-generation MSP? Will this impact multiple business units? Is decision-making centralised or decentralised? A strong change management plan should go beyond implementation and take those affected on a personalised journey that guides them through launch and beyond. Change champions, dedicated training materials, and communications that reflect an organisation's wider culture can all help to ease the way. Change management is such a huge subject that it’s impossible to cover everything here, but keep your eyes peeled for a future blog where I dive deeper.
5. Choose the right MSP partner
You should choose an MSP partner that has the right expertise to successfully drive and guide implementation from design to go-live and beyond. This is not a process that you want to put in the hands of a supplier simply because they quote the cheapest price. It’s important to understand their experience – have they worked with similar organisations before? Do they have a dedicated project and implementation team? How will a solution evolve alongside your business ambitions? Technology is also a key factor to consider – will you be tied to a provider’s proprietary tech or can they help you select the VMS that is going to work most effectively with your existing systems and processes? Remember, a bad partner choice may add up to more than a bad implementation experience; it could derail the whole project and see you starting again from scratch.
An MSP implementation touches almost every part of a business, and although that can feel overwhelming, it’s also an opportunity to add value to every corner of an organisation. I’m incredibly proud of how KellyOCG’s global project team collaborates with diverse stakeholders to develop implementation and change management processes that reflect the needs and goals of the clients we serve. Because every organisation is unique and every MSP solution and implementation process should reflect that.
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