As you probably know if you’re reading this blog, a VMS (Vendor Management System) is a comprehensive tool that helps companies manage their contingent workforce’s full lifecycle, from recruiting to onboarding to ongoing management. VMSs simplify the procurement and management of contingent labor, providing a centralized hub for every aspect of workforce management. For a VMS to work as efficiently as possible, you must integrate it smoothly into your existing HR and talent acquisition processes. And that’s not a simple task. It takes some careful planning, effective communication and training, and of course selecting the right VMS for your contingent workforce environment. But make no mistake: Getting it right can reap significant rewards. A successful VMS implementation gives you the best chance to realize all the benefits that a modern VMS can deliver, including significant cost savings, improved efficiency, and a more air-tight compliance profile. Let’s take a closer look at the staffing VMS implementation process and why getting it right is so important. Understanding Staffing VMS Implementation Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, the term “implementation” simply refers to the process of installing the VMS in your environment and integrating it with existing HR and procurement systems and processes. The VMS vendor itself will perform the implementation in most cases, but sometimes they bring on a third-party implementation specialist to manage the process. VMS implementations are often complex, multi-week (or even multi-month) projects that may involve some substantial coordination with many members of your team to execute it well. They can also be expensive – some VMS vendors can charge up to $100,000 to complete the implementation, though some will often bundle their implementation costs into their fee structure (or even waive it completely to try to win your business). Key Step 1: Comprehensive Planning To ensure a successful VMS implementation, take a close look at every aspect of your current talent acquisition and management practices. Who are the stakeholders? What processes are working today and what needs to improve? Where are the exceptions that go against your standard practices? How much visibility do you have into your workforce? What do you want your VMS to accomplish? You’ll also have to define the scope of your VMS. This involves determining the extent to which the VMS will be integrated into your staffing operations. Will it cover all departments or just specific divisions? Will it handle only contract-based staffing or also include permanent placements? Do you need to manage workers in multiple countries? Clearly defining the scope helps set realistic expectations and ensures that the implementation team focuses on the areas that will bring the most significant benefits to your organization. By accurately and impartially actively assessing these questions (and others), you can tailor the implementation to address your challenges and align the VMS solution with your goals. The next step of comprehensive planning is setting the implementation goals for your VMS. These goals should follow the “SMART” guidelines: Be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Common examples of implementation goals include: Streamlining the hiring process Reducing time-to-fill positions Improving the onboarding experience Improving compliance with labor regulations Increasing cost savings through better supplier management Setting clear goals provides a roadmap for the implementation team, aligns everyone’s efforts, and better enables you to monitor the project’s progress. Key Step 2: Rigorous Staffing VMS Vendor Selection Choosing the right VMS provider is, of course, the most fundamental part of every successful VMS implementation. Your chosen solution should align with your organization’s goals, values, and the specific needs you determined through your planning. By selecting a compatible partner, you’re much more likely to experience a smooth implementation process and begin a long-term collaboration that supports every aspect of your staffing operations. Factors to consider when selecting a VMS provider are: The vendor’s experience and expertise (not just in general, but also in your industry – especially if you use specialized labor types with management or compliance nuances) The VMS’s ability to scale as you grow Its track record of successful implementations Its ability to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems And of course, don’t forget the basics: Check the vendor’s reputation, customer reviews, and references from other clients. While not mandatory, many companies improve their chances of selecting the right VMS by researching the VMS market for possible candidates and then distributing a formal RFP. The RFP process enables you to ask questions that focus precisely on your needs and pain points, without having to sift through page after page of fluffy marketing language on their websites. It also enables you to better compare pricing side-by-side and fully understand pricing nuances (including implementation costs) that might skew your decision one way or another. If you want to go the RFP route, consider taking advantage of this straightforward RFP template. Finally, the importance of vendor support in the implementation process cannot be overstated. A reliable and supportive vendor will provide dedicated resources, such as implementation specialists and project managers, who will guide you through every step of the process. A good VMS will also offer comprehensive training and support to ensure a smooth transition and user adoption. Key Step 3: Effective Communication and Training Clear and transparent communication among key stakeholders is essential throughout the VMS implementation process. It involves establishing open channels of communication to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Your staff is going to want to know how the VMS will impact their day-to-day work. They’re going to have questions about costs and processes. They may be reluctant to embrace change. An effective communication and change management program will go a long way to addressing your staff’s concerns and allaying their fears. Full transparency helps to build trust and cooperation among stakeholders, increasing the likelihood of universal adoption. Your selected VMS should be able to guide you through the change management process. (If not, you might want to reconsider your choice!) A good VMS will have experience helping many other companies through implementations and should have established best practices that ensure effective development, delivery, and accessibility of your communications. But it is not enough to simply create such communications, no matter how good they are. It is crucial to provide comprehensive training to ensure that staff members are comfortable and proficient in using the VMS effectively. By offering ongoing support and resources, such as user manuals, training sessions, and help desks, staff members can overcome any initial challenges and fully embrace the system’s capabilities. Of course, user adoption and buy-in are critical for the overall success of a VMS implementation. To achieve this, your communications should not just provide instructions on how to use the VMS, but also emphasize the system’s benefits and how it can streamline processes, improve efficiency, and enhance productivity. By involving staff members in the decision-making process and addressing their concerns, organizations can foster a sense of ownership and engagement. Overcoming Challenges in Staffing VMS Implementation No matter how experienced your selected VMS provider may be, there will likely be some obstacles or setbacks in the implementation process. Planning how to handle potential pitfalls can help make the process smoother and keep your project on track. We recommend setting up weekly progress calls with your VMS’s implementation team to identify potential roadblocks as early as possible, make plans to overcome them, and keep the team focused in the right direction. You should also check in regularly with your own internal team to make sure they’re not running into any hurdles that weren’t addressed during your progress calls with the VMS vendor. Measuring the Success of Your VMS Implementation To ensure the success of a VMS implementation, you need to have a clear and effective way to measure its impact. Work with your vendor at the onset of the implementation project to define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will enable you to track and measure the success of your VMS implementation. Your vendor should be able to offer several concrete ways to measure the implementation project’s progress. One of the most important is measuring the accuracy of system integrations. In a well-executed integration, data should be able to flow seamlessly and bi-directionally from the VMS to all appropriate systems (HRIS, Application Tracking Systems, billing systems, and others). Integration problems represent one of the most common – and most costly – hurdles companies encounter during VMS implementations, so it’s critical that you monitor progress closely. Remember, the data collected through the VMS can provide valuable insights into various aspects of your staffing processes. This includes analyzing vendor performance, identifying bottlenecks, and monitoring compliance with established policies and procedures. Successful integrations with other systems enable you to visualize your contingent workforce data in the context of data from other areas of your business. Measuring the success of a staffing VMS implementation also involves being flexible and responsive to the data and feedback you receive. If your monitoring indicates areas for improvement or if user feedback suggests adjustments are necessary, your team should be willing to adapt its implementation strategy before your project strays too far off track. To learn more about VMS solutions and their implementation, we invite you to contact Prosperix and talk to a specialist today.