Why unlocking true vendor neutrality is key to stronger, smarter, and more agile MSP solutions


Mark Tobin

VP, Global Client Contracting & Launch Lead

Mark Tobin – Vice President, Global Client Contracting & Launch Lead, KellyOCG – explores the real meaning of vendor neutrality and why it’s the foundation for all truly agile and successful MSP programmes.

Vendor neutrality is a term that we hear referenced extensively in the managed service provider (MSP) space. But what does this really mean and why is true vendor neutrality important for a client organization to consider?

A truly vendor-neutral MSP is enabled to have independence of purpose. Not all MSPs can truly claim to be operating a genuine vendor-neutral programme. If, for instance, an MSP is designed in such a way that it must incorporate any element of partial treatment for its own talent supply capabilities, for any other reason than performance – this is not vendor-neutral. This approach removes its independence of purpose and can restrict its objectiveness in ensuring the optimum supply chain for its client's business needs.

In this blog, I explore the ways that embracing real vendor neutrality can benefit organisations and allow solutions providers to build stronger, smarter, and more agile MSP solutions.

Independently funded = Independence of purpose

An MSP which is funded in its own right is the only way of ensuring it can act independently without any risk of conflict of interest – a programme’s objectives can align completely with those of the client organisation it serves. A vendor-neutral programme is not only able to select the best suppliers from anywhere in the market, but it’s also able to incorporate different sourcing models; this might be a competitive bid arrangement for professional and technical roles, incorporating a client direct sourcing model, or engaging a single supplier for a high-volume manufacturing or contact centre environment. At KellyOCG, we often see this type of mix in our MSP programmes – it is about truly holistic, flexible, wide-spectrum talent supply chain design.

Incorporating the very best of existing supply chains

A vendor-neutral programme considers an organisation’s existing supply chain objectively and fairly, making design decisions and selecting suppliers focused purely on optimising talent supply to best meet the organisation's needs. An organisation's existing suppliers can be given equal opportunity to grow their business under the MSP based on performance and an organisation's business leaders can often continue working with the suppliers they trust. This approach helps drive high adoption across all parties and commitment from suppliers. An MSP’s approach to supply chain and process design should focus on how to increase talent choice, speed responsiveness, simplify processes, and improve cost-effectiveness. To achieve this – it must have complete freedom to make the right decisions for the client.

Agility and speed in responding to changing needs

The independence of purpose that a true vendor-neutral MSP model enjoys enables it to respond quickly to an organisation's talent needs. It need not consider anything except what is best for a client's business. No decision it makes will impact its funding or sustainability or its wider business. For any business to succeed it needs to be able to act with urgency in response to changing market, legal, regulatory, social, or environmental events. Its ability to quickly align its talent supply chain to these changes is critical to overall business agility.

Additionally, as a business grows and evolves, as its strategy develops and changes – so must its talent supply chain. Optimal talent supply chain agility is only possible where a clients MSP operates with real vendor neutrality. Poor-performing suppliers can be disengaged, access can be quickly enabled to specialist suppliers for new talent categories, and best-in-market suppliers can be sourced to support new geographies. This has never been more important than in today's uncertain environment where major unexpected global events continue to create significant challenges to business growth and stability.

Engaging talent at a competitive price

The ability of an MSP to incorporate the optimum sourcing model for each situation will ensure that a client organisation has access to the best choice of talent at the most competitive price. In a high-volume, manufacturing environment, for example, where large numbers of people are needed in the same role at a single location and often at short notice the optimum choice of model may be to select a single market-leading category supplier and leverage the volume to achieve the best pricing, whilst retaining speed and simplicity of process. Alternatively, a multi-supplier competitive bid approach will optimise choice of talent and pricing where people are needed in several different professional or technical roles across multiple locations. This, again, comes down to an MSP being free to incorporate different sourcing models and design talent supply chains to deliver the greatest value for the clients.

KellyOCG invented the earliest MSP models, and our ethos on MSP programme design has always been based on true vendor neutrality. This approach has ensured that KellyOCG enjoys the full trust of both its clients and suppliers – they know that we will always act in their best interests and always treat suppliers fairly and equally. Our clients and our suppliers know that KellyOCG will always do what’s right. If your MSP partnership isn’t built on true vendor-neutral principles, it may be time to ask, “Why not?”


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