What are the next-generation features found in Vendor Management Systems that will take hold in 2021 and become ‘state-of-the-art’?  In this article we ask our expert team to give their perspectives and pick out the five most impactful enhancements that will separate the market leading systems from the rest of the pack in 2021.

Introduction

It may well be the worst description EVER for an enterprise system but the technology platform used to source and manage a modern flexible contingent workforce is most commonly described Vendor Management Systems (VMS). The term originates from the time when the role of contingent workforce management software was chiefly to manage and govern the behaviors of staffing vendors.

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In 2021, the humble VMS is set to take centre stage. We will see it become one of the most common enterprise software purchases for small, medium and large businesses alike. This is because COVID-19 reminded companies around the world of the importance of business agility and the existential threat of not being able to scale up and down the workforce based on market demands.

Read this article to find out what qualities to look for when you decide to buy (or upgrade) yours.

Top Five Features of a VMS in 2021

Our top five comes from a polling of our Vendor Management Systems team and the broader Contingent Workforce Management community we serve at Simplify Workforce.

No.1 Features that Bring Greater Access to Talent

Much of the hiring activity today happens through online social networks and businesses are increasingly wanting to tap into their addressable audience to hunt out the best talent that wants to work for their brand. Mouhanad Abbas, SVP, Operations & Technology for Simplify suggests, “Businesses not engaged in Direct Sourcing—whereby they can advertise their vacancies to online audiences directly as an alternative to paying staffing agency fees—are missing out on potentially great savings and awesome talent that’s keen to work for their brand. When buyers are looking at their VMS options in 2021, they should definitely check out the routes to talent market served by the VMS systems they’re considering. For example, does the VMS have a ready built Direct Sourcing and Talent Pool solution? Does it offer guided buying for SOW users?

Guided buying is not for SOW users only; it’s really for all types of sourced talent, to guide users to best efficient procurement outcome. Our clients see it as a lower risk way to source talent—contingent workers, SOW, freelancers, 1099/IC, etc. Guided buying increases efficiency, lowers cost and risks.

These features bring companies instant economies and opportunities to source better hires at lower cost; people who are already known to the hiring business, or are passionate about what they do.”

No.2 Speed to Innovate

Sameer Srivastava, SVP for the APAC region says, “speed to innovate has become critical for VMS solutions. Any company that has implemented a VMS in the last decade knows that it’s simply not possible to buy out-of-the-box solutions; there will always be the need to tailor systems to business processes, not to mention the talent and vendor channel strategies that are peculiar to the user organization. That said, there is a huge difference between systems that require customisation (and re-coding) compared to those systems like SimplifyVMS that adopt a modern tech stack.

Newer systems assume tailoring will be needed and therefore offer configuration options (‘switches’ if you will) to make a tailorable solution something that’s affordable and achievable within weeks, not months. Additionally, modern cloud systems offer agile development sprints. These allow for monthly innovation by vendors, and not the two or three releases per year more common of Y2K VMS platforms.

No.3 Ability to Support and Nurture Workforce Management Best Practice at a Strategy AND Operational Level

Matthew Wagner, SVP and General Manager of the EMEA region argues, “A VMS should not aim to be a one-size-fits-all solution. We are seeing a host of new AI and remote working start-ups emerging with an agenda to pick out key areas of workforce management that offer an innovation advantage. VMS buyers today expect a VMS to offer them a gateway to any and all potential third party best practice solutions. Above all else, buyers want a VMS supplier to listen to their thoughts on innovation and incorporate digital technologies and operational innovations onto their roadmap. It’s not just about doing things better with advances in digital tech, there’s also a need to re-think how processes and supply-chains work at a strategic level, best exampled by the move towards Total Talent Management agendas that incorporate Direct Sourcing, Gig-Working and Statement-of-Work procurements. Consider, is the VMS supplier open to third party integrations to help with market rates, calendar synching, candidate testing, supplier scoring, etc…?”

Sameer Srivastava agrees. “Newer tech stacks, enable client and MSP implementation partners to circumvent the linear processing required by first generation VMS platforms. This is necessary as an MSP solution is essentially a nonlinear complex process ( e.g. allows for modular solutions, greater flexibility through User Defined Fields, and a personalizable approach to Dashboards. It means every client gets a unique solution for any of their locations globally that meets their local needs shaped to the way they run their talent strategy.

As an example, we have recently developed two new modules, one for complicated compliance tracking in India and the other for time sheets specific to Australia, keeping in mind the multiple rates that can be employed in one assignment, in double quick time. This would’ve been uneconomic were we working with a Y2K platform architecture.”

No.4 Turning Data into Insight; Insight into Value

Suresh Gupta, Chief Solution Architect for Simplify thinks VMS platforms able to offer transparency across the total talent and workforce management ecosphere will grow in popularity in 2021. He says, “This last few years, I’ve seen the quality of technologies like big data and data visualization improve exponentially. As a technologist, I can say it’s become far easier to deliver the personalised reporting experiences modern users expect, to harvest data and serve up rich perspectives on performance. Examples include our ability to tailor User Interfaces so that users can gain instant access to key performance metrics on their mobile devices and dashboards. Rather than asking managers to go looking for issues and answers, modern performance systems are today turning into recommendations engines to promote best practice and highlight when actions are necessary to correct underperforming areas of the workforce management life cycle.”

No. 5 Ease of Use

Michael Byrnside is Vice President of Sales and Strategy at Simplify. He thinks that 2021 is the year for existing Y2K VMS platform users to give up on their ageing platforms. ““While any major VMS vendor will share their all to familiar list of the key functionalities needed to support a flexible workforce, there is clear blue water between modern intuitive systems like SimplifyVMS that ‘just work’ and the Y2K systems that didn’t really have to worry about usability and an era characterized by the consumerization of apps. Our VMS business users go home and use Google, Amazon, Facebook and Instagram at home. They expect their business apps to work in a similarly intuitive way. Buyers know that if users don’t want to use the VMS they will go back to old ways and old systems. Good systems thrive on the goodwill of their stakeholder audience; otherwise they That’s why, in 2021, buyers will be looking for a mobile-ready VMS that’s easy for clients, suppliers, and workers to use—complete with in-app training videos and chat/chat bot ready to help users.“

Summary

Vendor Management Systems are becoming digital talent platforms offering a 360 degree view of performance across the talent ecosystems of businesses. While the new features and capabilities highlighted above are clearly value-adding and offer a lot of ‘sizzle,’ many workforce professionals will probably read through this list and reflect on how far behind the curve their incumbent systems are. The fact is, transitioning from one system to the next is one of the biggest obstacles for businesses to cope with.

The last word goes to Jason Main, Vice President of Product Strategy at Simplify who suggests “The time associated with implementing and/or changing VMS systems is an inevitably lengthy process. Buyers may want to consider a VMS platform that is quick and easy to implement. This is definitely one of our strengths with SimplifyVMS because of the highly configurable design of the system, as well as the fantastic implementation and customer service teams that go the extra mile for every one of our customers. Additionally, there are contributing technical aspects — such as the glueware approach we’ve taken to our next-gen private cloud architecture that sits on Microsoft Azure and fully leverages its security, open API interoperability, scalability and, best of all, ease of deployment.”

About SimplifyVMS

The digital tech that runs flexible working for businesses around the world. 

Simplify is a technology company operating in the contingent workforce and service procurement market. Our savvy team of technologists create unique and agile solutions that enable human resource, procurement, and talent sourcing professionals to maximize profitability, optimize their non-employee labor programs, and gain visibility into their extended workforces.  To find out more, get in touch.