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Five reasons why staffing providers should (and do) embrace technology-driven Vendor Management (Part 1 of 2)

in Vendor Performance

For the better part of the past decade, I have been in and around technology-driven vendor management in health care. In that time, I have experienced or witnessed every possible human emotion that is associated with VMS programs both good and bad.

As a young staffing Account Executive, I vividly remember the fear and panic I felt when I first heard that one of my bigger clients was going to a VMS.  Certain that this nameless, faceless software application was going to “ruin my relationship” with the client, I prepared a self-serving list of reasons why this was a bad idea for the client.  Despite my greatest efforts and deepest convictions that I knew best for the client, in the end, there was nothing I could do. I was doomed.

Or so I thought. My client’s change actually improved our relationship and helped us grow revenue in that account.  In retrospect, my reaction was based on fear, lack of information, and a sense that change is always bad.

Over time, my epiphany has been shared by a growing number of staffing providers. I see more and more firms making statements like, “We like it when we hear that a client is moving to ShiftWise” and “We wish that all of our clients used a system like ShiftWise.”

But still, skeptics remain. So what is it that makes one staffing provider benefit from VMS technology and another miss an opportunity? In the spirit of sharing and collaboration, I have condensed the attitudes of the embracers I spoke with to help you decide.

The Top 5 Reasons why staffing providers should embrace technology driven Vendor Management.

Warning!  Embracing VMS technology for your staffing office may result in an overwhelming urge to hug your computer.

1. It will improve your relationships with your clients.

Impossible, right?  How can having to use my computer to tell my client that Suzy Q can work this afternoon improve my relationship?  Where’s the personal connection and the reassurance that I’m there for them?

Ok, it’s time for a couple doses of reality.

  1. Rarely do VMS programs (ShiftWise certainly doesn’t) have a policy where you may NEVER SPEAK TO THE CLIENT.
  2. Nobody wants to talk to the same person five times per day to answer questions like “Do you need anyone for tonight?”

Staffing providers that embrace VMS understand that a relationship isn’t built out of a series of short conversations about mundane staffing related nuances.  Rather, relationships are built by:

  • Delivering high quality candidates precisely when they are needed.
  • Doing the extra work to complete online profiles with supporting documents so that managers can more easily qualify candidates.

The president of a provider of Locum Tenens I spoke with said it best:

“We want our clients to see our candidates matching to an order and say, ‘This vendor is reliable and never wastes my time, I’m choosing their staff first.’  If we’ve done that, we’ve done our job.”

2. You will fill more positions than ever before in the same account.

There’s a little secret that staffing office folks have kept from staffing providers since the very first agency nurse filled the very first open shift.  It goes something like this:

If I convince every vendor I work with that they are my favorite, and that I call them first whenever I have any needs, I will get more staff from all of my vendors when I’m in a pinch.

I can’t tell you how many times I have met with staffing agencies who insist that they are without a doubt the “first call,” #1 vendor at a hospital, all while I’m staring at a client-produced spreadsheet that shows this vendor hovering somewhere around 7th. Convinced that they fill all the shifts already they focus efforts elsewhere and miss growth opportunities.

A VMS allows you to see all of the orders that are open, pending, filled and cancelled across the entire organization regardless of whether you are able to actually reach someone on the phone.  In addition, a VMS allows you to staff more people within the same account with the same or fewer resources.

This quote from a Branch Manager of a Per Diem staffing provider summarized it for me:

“I used to have two coordinators staffing the same hospital.One was responsible for gathering availability from staff and the other was to hunt for needs at the account.  Now I have one person on that account and we have three times as many hours there as we did prior to VMS.”

Continue reading part two of “Five reasons why staffing agencies should (and do) embrace technology-driven Vendor Management.”

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