3 Common Vendor Management System Problems (And How to Solve Them)

In theory, a Vendor Management System (VMS) is an ingenious solution to solving all your digital talent woes. After all, it’s a one-stop portal where your organization can list all its open jobs, vendors log in and submit the best candidates, and hiring managers have an easy decision to make.

Like shooting fish in a barrel, right? Not so fast. There absolutely can be several big benefits to a well-run VMS, but there are also several downfalls.

VMS’s are not the right solution for every company. If your organization is considering implementing a VMS or already has one, you should understand the realities of some common pain points:

1. It’s hard to communicate through a VMS.

Here’s the scenario: your Director of Technology puts in an internal request to hire a Front End Developer. HR receives this request and goes into its archive of job descriptions (which have been in the system for who knows how long), upload that job description to the VMS, and it goes out to a dozen or so vendors to fill the role. For starters, the job description is probably about 60% accurate at best. But because vendors/recruiters aren’t allowed to reach out to the Director to clarify what technologies he is looking for and which soft skills he needs, managers often get 15 resumes that are completely a shot in the dark.

Solution: Host a onetime call with all vendors for each job requirement.
A little communication goes a long way. Have a onetime call with all your vendors and the hiring manager so that vendors can ask specific questions that are not covered by the generic job description. Thirty minutes of time to eliminate having to pick through dozens of unqualified resumes? Thumbs up.

2. Vendors can clog the system with unqualified candidates to try to hit quotas.

The vast majority of VMS’s have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place that says a vendor must hit a certain quota of resume submittals to remain in “good graces.” These are put in place to ensure that the vendor is not just cherry-picking the requirements that they want to work on. Some vendors submit candidates to a requirement even if they know the candidate isn’t qualified, simply because their SLA says that they have to submit a certain number of candidates to a certain number of requirements.

Solution: Establish SLAs around quality, not quantity.
You’ll unclog the system and save time for everyone involved.

3. Not every vendor can fill every type of requirement.

A VMS has numerous vendors involved. Sometimes your job requirements go out to “Tier 1” vendors first and then trickle down the line if expectations are not met—but having a dozen or so vendors working on the same requirement can actually be a downfall.

Staffing vendors that follow a “quality over quantity” model will be your best chance of filling the role, but they are discouraged by this model. These groups don’t rely on a large number of recruiters, but rather a smaller “X-Men” type of group that really know what they are doing. From an ROI standpoint, would I put my top recruiter on a req that has 12 other vendors frantically calling everyone they can find, or a client that values our knowledge and only reaches out to a single vendor?

Solution: Play to the strengths of each vendor.
Take the time to identify what each specific vendor specializes in and only release those types of requirements to them. This will limit the number of vendors on each requirement and let the experts in that field do their thing. You increase quality and decrease quantity, saving time and money for your hiring managers. If you are an IT- or digital-focused vendor, working on an Accounting CPA req that comes through the VMS for tax season is not doing anyone any favors.

At the end of the day, there is no magical button to hit to make your VMS run smoothly, but there are ways to improve your existing one. Improved communication between vendors and the company running the VMS can improve overall performance. It helps understand your vendor’s strengths and can tailor more requirements to them that fall in that bucket. It also improves accuracy of the candidates you get through your system, which saves time all around.

If you’re interested in a more custom approach to vendor management, check out how Celerity has successfully implemented personalized vendor management solutions for several of our clients.