By Peter Parks, Director Product Strategy
We are looking at implementing a significant program with a prospect; about $300 million in traditional contingent labor with much more in IT and off-shore spend. As you can imagine, for an opportunity like this we are always willing to go the extra mile.
But a funny thing came up in our last meeting, and it’s something I have encountered many times before. A few members of the prospect’s team starting talking about all of the additional things they plan to accomplish with our system – things that don’t really fit into the mold of a VMS: managing expenses for their FTEs, tracking on- and off-boarding for resources who are not billing through the system and leveraging our analytics for enterprise-wide reporting. I understand their thinking; this is a powerful system, its expense module is better than the one we currently use, the reporting is out of this world, let’s use it beyond just our contingent, IT and off-shore spend.
To some it sounds like a smart thing to do – make the most of the system. But invariably, when you try to use a tool for something other than its designed purpose there will be issues. Ever use a kitchen knife as a screwdriver? It might work to get the battery compartment open on your kid’s toy, but often you bend the knife, strip the screw, or both. And good luck putting-up drywall with it. Just walk to the garage and get a screwdriver.
VMS systems are the same. Great effort has been put into their design, with specific ends in mind. Sure, Provade has genuine enterprise expense functionality built into our system. But in order to enter expenses you need to have a work order, with approved budget, often tied to a PO. To use the system to capture expenses for your FTEs you need to create one-off, non-billable work orders that distort your metrics. You also need to give your employees access to the system to enter their expenses. Access is typically auto-generated for contingent workers through the work order creation process, and they are tied to a supplier. How do you deal with this? Ah, yes, a “work around”.
Interested in our wonderful integrated on- and off-boarding functionality? Of course you are, it drives efficiency and accuracy because our VMS is the system of record for your contingent workforce and all new assignments, change orders and terminations originate there. But this is because the contingent workforce fits into an end-to-end process beginning with a requisition and culminating in a work order. To try to fit resources who are not in scope of the contingent workforce program into demands work arounds and may require customization to the VMS or your own internal systems.
“Getting more” out of the VMS may seem like a way to fully leverage your investment, but it always results in a hokey process, demands work arounds and doesn’t meet your needs like another product or service would.
Ironically, most customers already own modules, built into their ERP systems, which handle these very needs. So, resist the urge, put the kitchen knife back in the drawer. Use the VMS for its intended purpose and you will get the most out of your investment, and turn-on those ERP expense and on-boarding modules – you may be surprised how well they work.