A woman is teaching a class in front of a whiteboard that has points on establishing and managing a supplier management program.

How to Build a Successful Supplier Management Program

An organization cannot achieve its objectives without a partnership with key suppliers of talent. These parties include traditional suppliers and those that are prevalent in talent marketplaces, integrated circuit (IC) platforms and direct sourcing. At the core of any successful extended workforce (EWP) program is a successful supplier management program (SMP). 

The right program should include not just traditional staffing suppliers, but also new sources of talent such as talent marketplaces, independent contractor management systems and direct sourcing solutions.

Some of the many benefits of a well-run SMP include: 

  • Ensuring quality and performance – Continuous evaluation and assessment of suppliers ensures they meet quality and performance requirements. 
  • Reducing risk and cost – Consistent supplier onboarding and compliance reduce employment-related risks. Discounted or standard pricing reduces the risk of volatile talent markets. 
  • Improving business continuity – By including suppliers in business continuity plans, organizations can better react to unforeseen circumstances.
  • Better business decisions – Analyzing supplier chain data allows for better resource planning and decision-making. 


A few high-level steps can establish your SMP and get you on the road to the continuous improvement of talent supply and the optimization of your entire extended workforce program.


Establishing the SMP


Suppliers must be aligned with your talent strategies during the supplier selection and bidding processes which involve identifying, evaluating, creating contracts and following other procurement requirements. There are tens of thousands of suppliers of talent, each offering different capabilities, and organizations need to define their specific requirements so they can find the right suppliers to solve their specific needs.

Segmenting your talent needs into different departments such as internet technology (IT), finance and manufacturing, for example, can help with this:  

  • Supplier engagement and tendering – Many companies issue a request for information (RFI), request for proposal (RFP) or request for quote (RFQ) to solicit specific supplier responses and to provide a variety for selection. 
  • Supplier evaluation and selection – Based on internal criteria developed by cross-functional teams. 
  • Contracting – Establishes appropriate service-level agreements (SLAs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) to manage the partnership and the performance of suppliers.  
  • Onboarding – Ensures compliance with supply chain and labor classification policies. 


Managing an SMP 


What drives a successful SMP is how an organization continually monitors and actively manages its suppliers. Best-in-class programs implement a variety of mechanisms to drive better relationships with their suppliers in order to better support the organization’s needs, including: 

  • Formal opportunities to educate suppliers by meeting with business owners to understand their current and future business objectives and talent needs. 
  • Communicating and sharing forecasts so suppliers can prepare to better respond to client demands and changing requirements. 
  • Reward or recognition programs that acknowledge suppliers for outstanding performance drive further quality and encourage suppliers to strive for excellence. This also strengthens strategic relationships which buyers, which ultimately drives increased business for the suppliers. 
  • An ongoing supplier needs analysis requires change to ensure that suppliers are aligned with current and future needs.


Deploying the Right Technology


Technology plays a critical part in any SMP, providing a seamless way for suppliers to quickly and effectively respond to the demands of the customers and ensure suppliers have what they need to be successful.

Technology also plays other key functions in a supplier management program:

  • Easy integrations – Ensures access to a broad ecosystem of suppliers without heavy development and integration costs. 
  • Extensive automation – Automating routine tasks through no/low code workflows enables suppliers to focus on high-value-added activities to gain a better understanding of the business and to promote opportunities with top candidates. 
  • Robust analytics  – This goes beyond reporting to provide access to real-time data and predictive insights to be proactive towards any potential service disruptions and to quickly react to new demands.


It’s important to note that not all extended workforce technologies have the capabilities to manage a large network of talent suppliers in a cohesive, user-friendly manner. Only a purpose-built platform as a service (PaaS), like Flextrack, gives businesses the agility, automation and analytics required to run an optimal supplier program now and into the future without excessive integrations. 

For more information on how Flextrack can optimize your supplier management program, contact us today.

Mark has over 25 years of experience in the workforce solutions industry. Mark has been responsible for implementing, operating, and transforming contingent workforce solutions for hundreds of organizations worldwide. Mark has also led technology teams that built and managed VMS solutions and other technology solutions to digitize and transform extended workforce solutions

Mark Zolkos

Managing Director, Flextrack