3-minute read

There are many types of partner relationship open to companies looking to source talent. The talent industry is awash with three letter acronymns to describe the various flavours—MSP, RPO, PPO, EoR…

Master Vendor is another option. But what is it, and why consider employing one?

Outsourcing your Contingent Workforce Management to one vendor

A Master Vendor is nothing more complicated than a staffing supplier that takes overall responsibility for providing your business with temporary staff. The scope of the Master Vendor model can be narrow (i.e., when a vendor is simply a very large staffing agency that takes authority for all of your requirements and furnishes the talent you need, either recruiting using its own in-house resources, or through a collection of supporting staffing agencies.

The Pros and Cons

Attitudes towards Master Vendor relationships polarize towards the very positive or the highly critical. Here, we’ve highlighted some of the arguments presented on both sides of the debate.

First the Cons

#1 All your eggs in one basket

Critics of the Master Vendor model argue that the commercial risks of being tied to one vendor is too great a risk to take when it comes to a business-critical subject like workforce resourcing.

#2 Limiting your talent reach

Another common concern about the model is that no vendor can ever hope to be the best source of all the talent an organization needs. The talent industry has many specialist staffing agencies specialising in particular skills-areas or industry disciplines. Those organizations exist for a reason. Even with all of the modern technology tools and vehicles available to firms to reach out to the talent they need, it’s still not easy to fill vacancies given a global talent shortage exists for scientific, technical and managerial roles.

#3 Divorces can be painful

For some, the biggest risk firms take when employing a Master Vendor happens at the end of a contract. When a Master Vendor has been in place for some time, the end of a contractual relationship requires procurement teams to ‘start from scratch’ with a new partner (and quite possibly new systems, etc.).

Now, on the positive side…

#1 Fast access to methods and technology

Advocates of the Master Vendor model, argue that—for most companies at least—Talent Management is not their core business. Choosing to move forward with a Master Vendor helps businesses to quickly adopt the know-how and tools they need to maximize their talent opportunity, painlessly.

#2 An instant-on talent pool

Many Master Vendors come armed with a large database of ready-to-employ candidates on their books that companies can instantly access to start filling vacancies.

#3 When it works, it can work well

For organizations that have enjoyed a very positive Master Vendor relationship, the model can work extremely well. The quality of the cooking is in the eating.

Ultimately, there’s no reason why a ‘good’ Master Vendor can’t deliver great talent results for your business, provided they have the right blend of know-how, resources and technology at their disposal to meet your needs.

Nuances of the Master Vendor Model that matter

The Master Vendor model has matured in the last decade. With companies seeking to blend a full-time workforce with on-demand resources (such as gig-workers, contractors and freelancers, etc.) having a single supplier to take accountability for making your talent sourcing agenda work can be a blessing.

Modern Master Vendor relationships combine the latest technologies and methods for talent sourcing and workforce management, with the traditional roles of staffing vendors. Sometimes, that means Master Vendors will offer Employer-of-Record and payroll, brand development, policy management, risk governance, procurement, legal and compliance skills in addition to their traditional recruitment and workforce management services.