Workday Podcast: Building a Solid Foundation with Your Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Members of the Workday channel management team discuss the best practices for working with managed service providers (MSPs) and the benefits of partnering with the right MSP for your business.

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Audio also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

As companies continue to lean on the contingent workforce, many are seeking to form a mutually beneficial relationship with a managed service provider (MSP) to help manage their external workers. These MSP partners become the foundation of the external workforce strategy and can even become an extension of an organization in regards to contingent workers. As such, it’s important to identify the benefits and understand how to create a strong partnership that works for both your organization and your MSP.

Join Jen Thiermann, senior director channel management, and Christine Teixeira, principal, channel account manager, of Workday as they share insights on establishing a relationship with your MSP. Both come from an MSP background, and have years of expertise working with MSPs; their backgrounds enable them to highlight the issues and questions to consider to find the best MSP for your organization.

Highlights from this discussion include everything from finding the right partner for your organization to assessing an existing partnership: 

  • “The MSPs partner with the customer to run point for that contingent workforce and services procurement strategy and help the organization define that strategy and execute on it. So when it comes to the technology side of things, the VMS technology like Workday VNDLY, the MSP will leverage that technology to run the program more efficiently.” —Christine Teixeira 

  • “Do you share common values? Can you visualize them representing your organization internally and externally? Because they really become that right-hand person. As people work together, we all want to bring out the best in each other.” —Jen Thiermann

  • “The value of having that MSP that aligns with you, and that really works as an extension, is that it's someone that you can go to and trust. And you've got to put in the work in the beginning to build that and spend time together.” —Christine Teixeira

Workday Podcast: Building a solid foundation with your Managed Service Provider (MSP)

Jess Richter: Managed service providers, or MSPs, and the contingent workforce go hand-in-hand. With industry knowledge and expertise, MSPs have long since been considered the foremost business partners for managing your external workforce from requisition to invoicing to offboarding. Companies lean on their MSP partners now more than ever. The contingent workforce continues to grow and MSPs are stepping up to help their partners manage a rapidly changing workforce landscape. My name is Jess Richter and today on the Workday Podcast we’re joined by two members of the Workday Channel Management team to discuss building and maintaining a solid relationship with your MSP partner.

Richter: I’m here with Jen Thierman and Christine Teixeira and I would like you both to introduce yourselves. Tell us a little bit about your background with managing MSP partners and where your expertise in this area lies.

Christine Teixeira: So to give you a little bit of background on me, my name is Christine Teixeira, and I'm a principal channel account manager on the Workday VNDLY Channel Manager team. I've been with Workday VNDLY for about a year and a half. And my primary job here is to be an internal advocate for our MSP partners and basically support them with whatever their needs are, from sales to support and tickets, and pretty much everything in between. Prior to starting at Workday VNDLY, I had 27 years in the non-employee labor space, 10 in staffing and recruiting, and then 17 working specifically in the MSP industry. My MSP experiences ranges from day-to-day operations to program management, process excellence, new client implementations, and global invoicing and finance, so I've been all over the MSP world.

Jen Thiermann: Great. Thanks, Christine. Jess, thanks for having us on today. This is Jen Thiermann. I am the Senior Director of the Workday VNDLY channel team. So, um, really excited to be able to share some of our experiences here. And I manage the team, and our team's focus is to, as Christine mentioned, advocate for the VNDLY partner community, um, and make working with Workday VNDLY a great experience for our partners. We support many different partner types, but a big portion of our partners fall into this MSP or Managed Service Provider category. And there's such a critical component to the success of contingent labor and, uh, services procurement programs. From a background perspective I have been in the VMS and, um, MSP space for a little over 20 years, um, run implementation organizations, and, and sat in the seat in an MSP-type program as well. So seeing how it's so efficient to be-- you know, have a technology like VNDLY to run, um, those programs, I've experienced that, but also realizing how much the MSPs bring to the table in terms of contingent labor, um, management and oversight and strategy and the, the technology helps that be more efficient, but there's so much that the MSPs bring. So I'm excited to chat with you, uh, today and share some of those experiences.

Richter: Thank you so much, Jen, uh, and Christine, for being here. I am really excited to speak with you guys as well. Let's jump right into it, um, and start with our first question. I think a lot of people who have heard of MSPs or have, have worked with an managed service provider have a good background on what it is and how they interact with your business. But I think, uh, it would be lovely if you guys could just give us a quick overview for anyone listening who needs to know how an MSP interacts with your business and how they interact with your technology.

Thiermann: I'll start out. I think when I look at how does an MSP interact with an end customer's business and, um, and technology, it's really the MSP becomes the face of the contingent workforce and services procurement program at all levels within, you know, one's organization. They're interacting with frontline workers, with managers, with leaders, with executives. The MSPs partner with the customer to run point for that contingent workforce and services procurement strategy and help the organization define that strategy and execute on it. So when it comes to the technology side of things, the VMS technology like VNDLY, uh, the MSP will leverage that technology to run the program more efficiently. So everything from rec to check, from the request of needing a, um, a contingent labor worker or a statement of work being kind of that request process, the approval of that, assessing candidates, um, looking at suppliers, and then the decision on that candidate, and then from there, the onboarding, budgeting, invoicing, and analytics. So the MSP should be expected to be interacting and in the technology on that day-to-day business, but then be able to step back and have those conversations and interaction, um, with a-all levels, you know, top to bottom and side to side of, of one's organization. So they really end up becoming a really ingrained team within the customer. At least, those are the-- you know, those are the experiences I've seen. Christine, I don't know anything if that, that you-- um, that you've seen in addition to that.

Teixeira: Yeah, Jen, absolutely. I, I would 100% agree with you. The MSP works in lockstep with your organization and becomes an extension of your HR procurement teams. It's really the long and short of it, is that, you know, they, they really do become the face of your non-employee labor. The person that everyone goes to, um, for all questions regarding non-employee labor, and it's who you end up going to, too, right? As an HR or a procurement professional, you go to them for their expertise in the space, so it really just-- i-it becomes a true partnership.

Richter: That makes perfect sense, especially knowing how ingrained they can be. I also wanted to just kind of extend from there. You know, obviously, because an MSP is supposed to be kind of a trusted partner to your business and they work within your technology, I think a, a really important question that I think a lot of people are asking themselves is, like, what is the most important part of identifying the right MSP partner for your business? How do you look at all of these MSPs that are out there and say, "This one is the right partner for us."

Teixeira: I'll jump in on that one. So the most important factor really depends on your expectations and needs. There are some obvious variables like whether or not you need to partner with Global Presence, or what their client retention statistics are, their reputation in the market, right? Those are all things that everybody will be looking at. But some of the things that you also want to consider when you're looking at your MSP and deciding who you'd like to bring on, flexibility, right? You want to be able to decide how engaged you want to be and how much of a voice you want to have. Some smaller MSPs might give you a larger voice in how you want to run the program because they're-- they are smaller and they want to partner more. Bigger, more established MSPs might come with their own best practices and, uh, and expertise and really come to you with a full game plan. So if you want someone that you really want to be able to help mold the program with versus someone that-- you want someone that comes in that's a true expert, that can just run with it right from the beginning and use their own best practices. Employee retention, that's another thing you want to look at. You want to make sure their employees are happy and treated really well, especially since they're going to be working with your hiring managers on a regular basis, and getting to know your hiring managers. You want to make sure that it's not a company that has a lot of turnover.Commitment to the MSP industry. There are some MSPs that that's all they do, right? That is their business. And then there are others where the MSP, um, is a segment of a much, much larger business. So you want to decide, do they have the right level of dedication and support that you're really looking for, or are they stretched too thin? And then values, right? Probably the most important in my eyes. Do their core values really align with your own? Because you're in Lockstep with them on a day-to-day basis, you want to make sure that their true core values and how they run their company matches really nicely and blends with yours.

Richter: That makes a lot of sense to me, especially driving home this idea of what are your company's values, um, and making sure that you find partners who are aligned with those values. I think that goes without saying about any partner, but especially with an MSP. Like Christine said, they're going to be working with your hiring managers.  And so, I do wanna ask as well, uh, what are some of the expected benefits that you see companies seeing from bringing on an MSP partner and specifically to manage the contingent workforce since a lot of MSPs nowadays, they're very tied with the contingent workforce  and extended workers in general are growing in population in all industries.

Teixeira: Yeah, Jess, this is something that I absolutely love to talk about. So MSPs provide a tremendous amount of value to customers. They are the one-stop shop, right, for all non-employee needs, questions. They are your facilitator of using the technology, so they become the experts in running the technology. They know inside and out whatever VMS you decide to use, so knowing that each customer now no longer has to do that, right? You don't have to hire or find your own experts in-house. Let your MSPs do that for you. They'll read weekly release notes. They'll look and see what technology works best for you, and what sort of customizations or, um, configurations are the ones that would work well for your company. They come with recruiting strategies They know hundreds and hundreds of staffing suppliers and employment agencies. So it opens a door to a multitude of recommendations around recruiting strategies, how to find the best talent, whether or not to use direct sourcing pools. They, have all of those insights and can really partner with your HR systems or HR, um, team to decide what the best recruiting strategies are for you. They help mitigate risk, so they help enforce things like tenure policies or come with recommendations on them. Onboarding requirements, making sure that everything is buttoned up when it comes to all of the onboarding that you need for each person that's coming on board and getting access to your systems. They can advise on things like co-employment, really work with your hiring managers to make sure that you're reducing your risk in that area. And then cost savings. Everyone wants some cost savings. So they'll come to you with things like streamlined rate cards for different job titles, overtime management, and just making sure that you're using contingent labor in the right way rather than in a place where you really should be, uh, looking at full-time hiring where there is a benefit financially. I could go on and on, but I know that this podcast is only a few more minutes.

Thiermann: Yeah, Christine, and as someone coming from the VMS side of the industry, the amount of, you know, MSPs that I've worked with throughout my career, it, it just been-- there's, there's so much more. I mean, I just think about a project plan when I was, you know, deploying VMSs. It's the technology line items and then everything else that the MSPs are, are doing. They care for so, so many aspects, um, that it's really-- I think that's a really important thing for buyers to understand is what, um, what are-- what are the segments to look in-- look into and expect from their MSP? And also, that helps them make the decision on, do I wanna move, move forward with an MSP once they understand the full breadth of what-- um, the breadth and depth of what an MSP brings to the table.

Teixeira: The MSP industry has changed a lot over the past 20, 25 years? Non-employee labor has changed over the past 20, 25 years. And we really should be making sure that MSPs are staying up to date. And, and that that's another important factor, is that they should be coming to our customers or to their customers with fresh and new ideas as the market changes. So new technologies that might be better aligned to their customers' needs, new sourcing solutions that might be better aligned. Those are also things that are really important and that they want to look for in an MSP. And I feel like we left that out.

​​Thiermann: You need to expect your MSP to keep up to date and bring that fresh thought leadership, uh, to your organization. That should be an expectation. And, um, whether that be new tech, um, you know, just new approaches, uh, etc. So, um, MSP should have that point of view and, and be, be really growing and morphing with the industry and, you know, not staying stuck in the past.

Richter: Yeah, I think that making sure that MSPs are staying up with the technology and they're able to bring, you know, new, um, vendor management systems or VMSs into play as they see more innovative VMS technology coming out is like a really big part of working with an MSP and them bringing their expertise, uh, to you. And this kind of brings me to my next question, um, whi-which is when you're kind of establishing these partnerships, um, what do you think the best practices are for forming a relationship that is mutually beneficial with your MSP so that you do get things like that, your MSP bringing you new technology and new things, that are innovative to their industry and making sure that you're kind of going back and forth?

Thiermann: I think that When I look at successful relationships in any kind of form you know, it just comes down to trust. I think that's something we all talk about is, you know, if you have a good relationship, there absolutely is a foundation of trust. And so building that foundation really starts you off on the right foot. Um, and when I think about best practices for forming that relationship, you know, stepping back even. The assessment on is this the, the right MSP, some of the things that Christine brought up as well of just are there-- can you work with this organization? Do you share common values? Can you visualize them representing your organization internally and externally? Because they, they really become that kinda right-hand person. Um, you know, do you think you can and, and with, with-- uh, as people work together, we all wanna bring out the best in each other. So do you think they can help you level up your game with how to best leverage contingent workforce and service of procurement? So as we've discussed already a few times here, they really become that extension of your organization. And so trust, cultural alignment and values would be, you know, the three things that I'd say are just are absolutely critical. Make sure those three things - trust, cultural alignment, and values are all in lockstep between your organization and the MSP. And I think that, that sets you off on the-- on the right path.

Teixeira: Yeah, absolutely, Jen. I would totally agree. Make sure that those values are aligned and that you're working in Lockstep. Get comfortable with them. You want to be on a texting basis with the, the head of your MSP organization. You want to be able to go to each other and talk to each other about anything. That's the value of, of having that MSP that aligns with you, and that really works as an extension, is that it's someone that you can go to and trust. And you've got to put in the work in the beginning to, to build that and spend time together.

Richter: You know, something that you both have touched on throughout this entire conversation that I think is wonderful i-is this idea of, uh, the MSP becoming an extension of your organization and your company. And so I, I think, uh, it would be great to hear a little bit more information about how a company or how maybe in your experience, a company can split the work between their internal teams as well as their managed service provider.

Teixeira: So when you're bringing on an MSP, you really should be expecting that they want to take on the bulk of the work. I mean, that's what they're there for. So when you're deciding how much work to give them, don't worry if you think you're giving them too much because they want it, right? I've seen some customers in the past be completely hands-off and act solely as an escalation point, to the point where, you know, they truly trust their partner. And they allow their partner to run with the whole non-employee labor program, and they just step in when they absolutely need to or when their partner needs some backup. I've seen others where they work very, very closely in tandem with the MSP on a daily basis and like to get involved in the day-to-day. And I've seen pretty much everything in between. So my recommendation is that you want to be actively involved in things like maybe determining your supply base, reviewing your activity analytics. Like all of the high-level things to make sure that everything's running smoothly, but let the MSP do what they do. Like putting together your job catalog, or your rate negotiations. That's what they do, and then you just get to step in and review, approve, and advise. And that, that really seems to work best.

Richter: One of those things that I think, uh, comes up a lot in these kinds of larger business, uh, partnerships. And so kind of going in the same vein as, you know, how are you splitting up the work with your MSP partner, but also how do you look at an existing MSP partnership and ensure that your business is getting the most out of that relationship? How do you assess that relationship?

Thiermann: Yeah. I think start with going back to the basics. And, that building a level of trust, making sure that you're culturally aligned with your goals and your values. That, to me, leads to going back to the basics of defining what the strategy is for your organization and how does total talent fit into that? And how does contingent labor and services procurement fit into the total talent view? And if, if you don't know what success looks like, then h-- it's much harder to determine and quantify if your MSP is helping you be successful. So that's where I go back to the basics. What's the strategy at an corp-- you know, organizational level for your talent management, your total talent management, and how does the contingent and services procurement angle fit into that? And then from there, just to your point on, like, you know, how do you actually assess it and see what's what and if we're, we're successful is, have a check. Is your current program aligned with those goals, aligned with that strategy that you just revisited at the organizational level? So whether you look at data points of how much spend do you have? Do you have your distribution of talent? Do you have that, segmented geographically in the way that helps you succeed in that overarching top-level strategy? Is the split between FTEs and, and contingent and services procurement, uh, helping meet that strategy or not? And look at that data and use that data to help drive, drive the decisions, drive the behavior, drive, that assessment of is the current setup working well or not. Look for your MSP to share how they're going to help meet those goals. How are they going to meet the, the goals that are associated and linked back up to your overarching strategy? Stay aligned with them and e-expect that they will stay outcome-focused. It's so easy to get overwhelmed in, in, in the day-to-day. And Christina had mentioned, you know, there's so much value that MSPs bring. There's also so much that they are doing on a day-to-day basis just to keep things moving in the right direction, with, the contingent labor programs. But it's so easy to get overwhelmed by that day-to-day tactical management. And a strong MSP will be able to execute on the tactical but then be able to step back and say on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, annual, and annual basis, here are our results, our outcomes, are those rolling up to the overarching strategy of our end customer.

Richter: That's something that I think, comes with a lot of, uh, various business partnerships, but, uh, just that not plateauing and not letting yourself kind of get used to the day-to-day and get kind of absorbed in those things and being able to really look and assess and, and move up and, and forward or, or level up, I think, is how you put it earlier, It's one of those things that a lot of companies, when they're managing these partnerships, sometimes goes by the wayside. You know, they have the partner in place and they let themselves get a little bit complacent.

Thiermann: And that's actually very typical in, um, in the industry. So I wouldn't-- you know, customers shouldn't definitely be beating themselves up about if they step back and look at their program and see that it's, it's been an upward trajectory. And then, all of a sudden, now it's just plateauing, and now maybe it's going downhill a little bit. That is very common. So I think one thing that's really important is just to understand.

Richter: Thank you. I think that's a really good call out, um, especially just, you know, keeping in mind that these are-- this is how the e-ebb and flow of these kinds of relationships go. And so making sure that you're ebbing and flowing the way that, you need to and, t-taking that time to assess and think and really, uh, understand these partnerships, I think, is like a really big, big part of working with an MSP. That is, I think, the perfect way to end this conversation that we're having. Um, thank you so much, for being here, uh, Jen and Christine. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us. It was great to hear a little bit more about your background and also just your, uh, philosophy on working with managed service providers. 

Thiermann: Thanks for having us, Jess. This was fun. And yeah, hopefully, we'll find some more opportunities to, to share our love for this industry in the future.

Teixeira: Yeah, agreed. Thanks, Jess. We really appreciate the time.

Richter: Awesome. Have a great day.

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