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First, for this discussion, let's define 'global' as a managed service provider (MSP) delivering non-employee workforce solutions in multiple countries using one or more vendor management systems.

Let's be honest.

Global MSP providers do not consistently successfully deliver services required by international Customers. For example, the all too familiar quarterly or annual business review, which the MSP often presents as an 'orderly recall of past information in summary form for its re-examination.' (R1) In today's global market, it's time to realign expectations.

As a Customer, when did your MSP last deliver a Global Workforce Strategy?

Let's be clear.

Strategy = 'A method or plan chose to bring about a desired future, such as achieving a goal or solution to a problem; and the art and science of planning and marshalling resources for their most efficient and effective use.' (R2)

A critical success factor often missed in global strategic planning is the awareness and accommodation of multiple country cultures and what that means for the Customer, the MSP team, the supply chain, and the workforce.

Let's agree.

MSP is about people, value-add workstreams and technology efficiencies. People come first. When an MSP takes great care and concern of their 'people assets', the performance metrics take care of themselves. Most of us know from experience, laser focus on Customer needs enables actual value creation, and the team's actions increase the MSP worth of services. Yes, the MSP team is securing the long-term, meaningful Customer and vendor relationships that drive the best financial outcomes possible within the Customer's current environment.

The importance of the overall health of a global program must be balanced with awareness and acceptance of cultural differences. Without sincere consideration and taking a personal interest in others, the program is not a sustainable business model and eventually leads to MSP team negative turnover, vendor program apathy, transactional thinking, and guess what? - lost opportunities for everyone!

What's next? Due Diligence.

How do Customers determine the right MSP provider and their ability to deliver a successful Global Workforce Strategy?

We begin with the much-dreaded RFx process, which is, at best, a time-consuming, expensive, and often confusing journey. Time is wasted attending multiple sales presentations where market differentiators are often unclear, small-talk is awkward, and the MSP providers present what some genuinely believe is a 'global solution. The truth is, few presenters will win their audience. We recommend that the presentation include tenured operational leaders who spend time with customers and their MSP teams every day and answer real-world operational questions.

It's essential to consider the RFx impact on the participating MSP providers.

We all know Customer reputation in the market is critical to long-term success. Before beginning any RFx process, please consider the impact on the MSP providers - the cost of time and resources invested in winning your business. The RFx is not an exercise to be taken lightly and should always be an honest and fair request by a Customer looking to make real change.

Remember, when comparing MSP providers, a global presence doesn't always = global capabilities.

Let's get REAL.

When a Customer begins the MSP evaluation by asking 'real-life' questions, the Customer can quickly uncover facts and open doors to real-talk -- meaningful discussions, negotiations, and a Customer/MSP win-win result.

How does the MSP successfully integrate multiple country cultures?

The answer must include a program mandate as part of the Global Workforce Strategy listing communication expectations and how teams from multiple countries will collaborate - or failure is inevitable!

What is the in-country experience of the assigned Customer support team?

I call this team the 'doers' - committed people working hard every day ensuring your program success. Use common sense, and if there are a significant worker headcount and daily activity requiring support, then the program resources must be in-country to build trust with the Customer users and vendors - minimizing cultural challenges. This team will earn respect and deserves to have a loud voice in creating the Global Workforce Strategy.

What is the experience of the global MSP Executive leadership?

These are the executives ultimately accountable for the success of the customer relationship and the Global Workforce Strategy! It's mission-critical that these leaders have multi-country (real-life) experiences that will enable thought leadership outside of a single country paradigm found all too often in our world. You can learn from their experience. Dig deep, ask questions, get the stories of what are probably some very unusual tales of international business and travel.

What is the best practice for global implementation?

The implementation team must be experienced in project management methodologies to build a strong program foundation. Depending on scope and geography, the project tasks required to meet critical milestones are complex and upwards of 500 with timeline dependencies, many levels deep; therefore, case studies and references are a must!

How does the MSP complete due diligence for each new country where they do not currently provide services?

It's okay for a global provider not to already be in every country where you need support. What's essential is that the MSP can demonstrate success in their process to expand into new geographies.

What global customer facts demonstrate real market strength?

The MSP must provide facts for each country included in the project scope. Facts demonstrate capabilities using data. As a Customer, you must know the facts to make an intelligent decision.

At a minimum, request a report covering the previous two-year period, including 1) total spend value under management; 2) # number of Customers; 3) # headcount by skillset; 4) # on/off-site locations serviced; 5) # vendor count by skillset; 6) the MSP team negative attrition, 7) and program performance results - preferably a real-world example of a quarterly and annual business report, and best case – a Global Workforce Strategy!

How does the MSP manage 'change' for the Customer, vendors, and workers?

Change is personal, with a high probability of creating an emotional response and increasing stress! Manage change, and you manage stress. What is their change management plan?

What is the average tenure of the MSP operations team member by country?

Negative turnover (a.k.a. 'churn') can seriously damage the MSP's credibility and effectiveness. If turnover is happening, investigate why? Vendors can often shed light on MSP team synergy and performance.

How does the MSP manage multiple currencies, invoice workstreams, tax, and vendor payment reconciliation?

A winning practice will include Customer Accounts, Finance, and IT at the start of the project... if not, expect workplace noise, billing problems, and, even worse, the potential for negative press! Avoid the hot-seat and over-communicate.

How does the MSP ensure Compliance?

Labour legislation, tax law, and data protection requirements are changing rapidly in nearly every country worldwide, creating significant RISK if not correctly managed by the MSP and VMS!

How does the MSP leverage vendor spend across multiple countries?

When multi-national staffing vendors provide services in multiple countries, this creates fragmented customer/vendor relationships. Why? Each vendor entity has P&L responsibility and in-country objectives - sometimes conflicting with other countries in their organization. As a Customer, avoid the complexity and focus on the significant opportunity for pricing concessions!

How are multi-country cultures integrated into the Governance Plan?

The answer reveals the importance placed by the MSP on cultural collaboration. If the MSP truly 'walks the talk,' the MSP's program governance plan will reflect this commitment.

Does your Global Labour Strategy exist?

If yes, that's good, but what can you do to make it great?

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