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The importance of effective account management in delivering a 'best-in-class' managed service programme

Posted on 12/08/2013 by Charles Austin in Category Managed Services
​​The greater need for workforce flexibility, delivered in an ‘as cost-efficient as possible’ manner is without question a key driver behind the rapid growth of temporary labour managed service programmes in recent years.

According to Staffing Industry Analysts Contingent Buyer Survey, 52% of large organisations already have a Managed Services Provider (MSP) and a further 33% are seriously considering this approach in the future.

In my role as Client Services Director for Comensura, I’m often asked how important the role of account and relationship management is in delivering a 'best-in-class' managed service programme. This is especially true in an age where vendor neutral and vendor management system technology seems to be high on the agenda of most procurement professionals in the delivery of outsourced solutions.

Any solution designed to attract, deploy and retain talent will always seek to combine people processes and technology and the key differentiator is how this balance is maintained throughout the duration of any agreed contract term. I absolutely recognise that technology has an extremely important role to play but its primary role is as an enabler, streamlining ordering and transaction-based processes. From my experience, the managed service programmes that deliver the best outcomes to clients still require focused effort, expertise, relationship building and continuous improvement that can only be delivered through effective account management.

So, as a buying organisation, what should you be asking your MSP?

Strategically, how well do you understand my business and what I’m trying to achieve?

Effective account management at a strategic level must mean that the MSP provider:

  • sees the bigger picture and understands a client’s key drivers and challenges so services can be shaped to deliver both short and long-term value

  • understands the importance of relationships and working together to share goals and objectives

  • is seen as an expert - comfortable imparting knowledge, challenging current thinking, processes and ways of working

  • has good lines of communication between the account manager and the client – something of critical importance in terms of providing intelligence through reporting of performance and sharing industry knowledge and best practice.

Operationally, can you get on with managing the supply of labour into my business to allow me to do my day job?

At a day-to-day level, effective account management will mean that the MSP provider:

  • in a vendor neutral scenario, manages the supply of temporary workers into a client working impartially with a number of suppliers

  • has effective management processes in place so that all recruitment suppliers are contractually managed to the client’s service expectations

  • focuses on the day-to-day contract with the client so it runs smoothly to agreed service levels

  • responsive to any gaps in temporary labour supply and quickly addresses this through the existing recruitment supply chain or by procuring new suppliers.

Technically, what support can you offer my line managers and end users?

Line managers are the end users of managed service programmes and recipients of the temporary workers, yet they can often be overlooked in managed service programmes. At a technical level, effective account management will mean that the MSP provider:

  • ensures hiring and line managers are constantly aware of the organisation’s temporary labour ordering and approval processes.

  • trains line managers on how to use technology to order, approve, select and timesheet temporary workers, known as the procure-to-pay process

  • supports line managers and processes are in place for people to seek help and advice when required

  • audits recruitment suppliers regularly to ensure high standards of compliance and governance are maintained. This is vital to protect the client and reduce the risk of improper working practices.

In my experience, an understanding of the client’s strategy, operational and technical requirements form the backbone of account management. If you can get these three areas aligned, you’re set for a successful and effective managed service programme. ​