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Top questions to ask your Managed Service Provider

CXC Global7 min read
CXC GlobalJune 02, 2024
CXC Global

Importance of choosing the right MSP provider

A managed service provider (MSP) is a contingent workforce management solution, delivered by an external company. The ‘employer’ of the contingent workers engages the MSP to manage all facets of their contingent workforce – from hiring to offboarding. By combining process, expertise and technology, MSPs manage the sourcing, engagement, onboarding, and overseeing of all non-permanent workers of the employer.

The main functions of an MSP partner, include:

  • Negotiating improved rates with current suppliers and, where required, introducing new suppliers
  • Creating diverse sourcing strategies and establishing exclusive talent pools for the employing organisation so they can have instant access to specialised skills
  • Providing insights into labour market trends and delivering real-time analytics on workforce dynamics

Typically, organisations looking to engage MSP services sit on a spectrum of requirements: some are looking at the market for the first time, others have mature programs that require a boost in efficiencies and process improvements.

The key benefits that can be materialised by partnering with an MSP include:

  • Substantial cost reductions
  • Streamlined administrative processes
  • Enhanced governance and compliance
  • Access to advanced tools and technology
  • Increased operational efficiency
  • Rapid acquisition of skilled resources
  • Enhanced candidate engagement

Ultimately, teaming up with an MSP establishes a robust and sustainable contingent workforce program without having to burden your internal team with managing the lifecycle of your contingent workers.

Today, we’re looking at the key questions organisations need to ask potential managed service providers, so they can make informed decisions about the providers best suited to their business. We’ll help you know what to look for in a managed service provider and will cover the key considerations for making accurate evaluations of potential MSP partners.

Core questions to ask your MSP

How are temporary staff work orders distributed to the supplier pool?

An MSP that is either vendor neutral or vendor strategic will select staffing vendors based on unbiased quality criteria. Real-time distribution of work orders to all staffing vendors is done to ensure a competitive, equitable, and objective process that benefits the employer. When assessing MSPs, enquire about their vendor approach and how they uphold fair competition, especially if the MSP has ties to a staffing agency.

If your MSP is affiliated with a staffing company, how do they prioritise filling roles?

If your MSP is owned by a staffing company, ask them if they would consider reducing their market share to expedite filling your requisitions and therefore offer you a lower billing rate. Often, clients engage multiple staffing suppliers to fill their talent requirements. If you are overseeing this process, you need to ensure you have thoroughly verified that all staffing suppliers are aware of the necessary skills and compliance requirements, and that they are meeting these effectively.

Does your MSP understand your hiring goals?

Accurately defining your organisations’ priorities for talent diversity and capacity is beneficial for aligning them effectively with an MSP’s capabilities. The MSP should be capable of customising their recruitment strategies, candidate selection procedures, and sourcing activities to cater to the client’s strategic requirements. This practice guarantees that the client receives the ideal blend of skill variety and workforce size that aligns with their business goals and project needs.

How does the MSP benchmark its suppliers?

When benchmarking staffing suppliers, the factors to consider are cost, quality of talent, and speed to hire. Below, we’ve outlined how each of these factors can be measured and reviewed:

Cost: Cost assessment involves examining the financial terms and agreements established, such as the pricing structure, service fees, and any extra expenses linked to the staffing services.

Assessing candidate quality: Evaluating the quality of candidates sourced by your staffing suppliers is essential for effective recruitment. This assessment can be carried out through different methods, including reviewing their qualifications, experience, skills, and alignment with the organisation’s needs.

Speed: Evaluating speed involves measuring the time it takes for staffing providers to put forward candidates for open roles upon receiving the job specifications. This encompasses gauging the time from the first interaction to the submission of candidate profiles, along with the total time required to fill a position with a qualified candidate.

We recommend conducting regular reviews of the staffing suppliers working with the MSP – such as quarterly or annually – to evaluate their performance and ensure alignment with your staffing and business goals.

How does the MSP engage its suppliers?

Having consistent communication with your MSP, who will interact with staffing suppliers on your behalf, is crucial. Establish clear expectations and schedule regular meetings to ensure that talent and project requirements are being fulfilled. Conduct formal reviews periodically to assess the partnership between the MSP and their suppliers.

Expanding on MSP evaluation criteria

Can the Managed Service Provider help you source the right talent?

To ensure access to diverse, specialist talent pools, consider MSP providers who have partnerships with a large number of reputable staffing suppliers. This allows for a faster recruitment process, future hiring planning, and higher-quality candidate options. Networked vendor management systems with hiring marketplaces offer access to a wide range of suppliers covering various skills, geographies, and niche job categories. This approach avoids limiting your organisation’s access to the best talent.

How important is candidate experience?

The candidate experience is a crucial component of the MSP relationship as negative experiences can harm your business reputation and limit your access to high quality talent. Dissatisfied candidates may leave negative reviews online and share their experiences with other potential hires, impacting future applicants. A streamlined hiring process is key to engaging candidates, ensuring positive experiences, and ultimately enhancing the quality of the workforce. MSP providers should offer candidate-focused hiring solutions with direct communication and feedback-sharing to improve overall candidate experiences.

How quick is the VMS implementation time?

Faster time-to-value is crucial in Vendor Management System (VMS) implementation, with each process being unique based on your staffing needs, your business strategy and pipelined projects. Ideally, we recommend seeking out providers accustomed to collaborating with internal stakeholders to identify business areas needing extra attention and refinement in the VMS configuration process. VMS providers need to be adept at facilitating accurate and comprehensive data migration and avoiding high costs and restrictions on platform changes and customer service.

What is their pricing strategy?

Traditional staffing MSPs do not charge their clients; instead, they generate revenue from their supplier base. In these relationships, suppliers are required to pay MSPs to participate in their client programs. However, this supplier-funded approach can discourage top-tier suppliers who do not rely on accessing an MSP’s client base, leading to the exclusion of high-quality suppliers known for exceptional customer service and quality outcomes. Also, this model hinders emerging industry players, who are often at the forefront of innovation.

To ensure your long-term program’s success and to access industry innovation, explore alternatives beyond the conventional MSP pricing model.

Is their VMS technologically advanced?

The disruption caused by digital transformation affects all aspects of business. To establish a highly efficient and flexible contingent workforce program, it’s wise to investigate the most recent technological innovations.

Cloud-based solutions provide more innovation than on-premise software. They offer benefits like faster implementation, easier onboarding, cost savings, regular upgrades, and simplified maintenance. These solutions allow multiple clients to utilise the functionalities securely with separate data storage.

AI automates hiring processes, optimising performance. Modern solutions integrate candidate onboarding, providing candidate visibility and data-based insights into your supplier activity.


Before committing to an MSP provider, the key decision makers and stakeholders in your business need to ask the tough questions. By delving into each of these crucial questions, you’ll gain the vital insights your business needs to engage an MSP that is right for your business, where operational efficiency, cost-savings and overall business performance sits at the heart of the MSPs mission. To summarise, these questions are:

  • How are temporary staff work orders distributed to the supplier pool?
  • If your MSP is affiliated with a staffing company, how do they prioritise filling roles?
  • Does your MSP understand your hiring goals?
  • How does the MSP benchmark its suppliers?
  • How does the MSP engage its suppliers?
  • Can the Managed Service Provider help you source the right talent?
  • How important is candidate experience to the Managed Service Provider?
  • How quick is the VMS implementation time?
  • What is the MSP’s pricing strategy?
  • Is the MSPs VMS technologically advanced?

Many companies are adopting MSPs and their Vendor Management System solutions to streamline how they manage their contingent workforce. As the demand for skilled talent continues to increase across the globe, MSP solutions have become essential to business, enabling the efficient sourcing, engaging, and overseeing of their contingent workforce.

Yet, with numerous MSP VMS providers competing in the market, selecting the right one tailored to your organisation’s unique needs can feel overwhelming. It demands thoughtful deliberation, thorough assessment, and asking the appropriate questions to ensure you select a provider that matches your objectives, values, and strategic direction.

Staying on top of industry trends and keeping your MSP accountable by your company’s commitment to continuous improvement will provide for a high-performing partnership between your organisation and your MSP.

At CXC, we understand that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to contingent workforce management, so selecting the right managed service provider needs to be suited uniquely to your business. After all, every organisation is different. 

Our MSP services offer a premium partnership-based solution, in a modular framework so you can pick and choose the services best suited to your needs. This modular framework is comprised of four key areas:

  • Sourcing
  • Engagement and payment
  • Supply chain management
  • Compliance. 

And if your needs change in the future, no problem. Our MSP solution is designed to scale up and down to match your business and its changing requirements. Contact us today to discuss your contingent workforce management and MSP partnership goals.

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About CXC

At CXC, we want to help you grow your business with flexible, contingent talent. But we also understand that managing a contingent workforce can be complicated, costly and time-consuming. Through our MSP solution, we can help you to fulfil all of your contingent hiring needs, including temp employees, independent contractors and SOW workers. And if your needs change? No problem. Our flexible solution is designed to scale up and down to match our clients’ requirements.

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