Life Sciences
September 21, 2023

The Importance of New Suppliers in Life Sciences MSP Programs: New Ideas, New Paths to Innovation

The life sciences industry is at the forefront of innovation, driving breakthroughs in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and more. It stands as a beacon of innovation and advancement, yet beneath the surface of this dynamic sector lies a complex tapestry of staffing challenges. To help manage complicated workforce structures, life sciences companies often leverage managed service providers (MSPs) to manage their staffing needs efficiently. And where regular supplier enrollment and sourcing processes were once standard practices, many MSPs have since “locked in” their staffing partners. Some agencies have been in any given program for years. But to overcome the workforce obstacles confronting life sciences enterprises, introducing new and small business suppliers can make a huge difference.

The Advantages of MSPs in Life Sciences

In the ever-evolving landscape of the life sciences industry, finding the right talent to drive innovation and success is paramount. The advantages of using an MSP are many: program consolidation and centralization, access to a targeted supplier network, larger talent pools, cost and process optimization, and the freedom for hiring managers to focus on their core responsibilities rather than managing a sprawling workforce across categories. 

  • Cost Efficiency: MSPs can help life sciences companies streamline their workforce management processes, reducing administrative overhead and costs.
  • Access to a Diverse Talent Pool: MSPs often have access to a wide range of pre-screened and qualified candidates, making it easier to find specialized talent quickly.
  • Compliance and Risk Mitigation: MSPs are well-versed in industry regulations and can ensure compliance with labor laws and other regulations, reducing the risk of legal issues.
  • Scalability: Life sciences companies can easily scale their workforce up or down as needed, especially during clinical trials or product development phases.
  • Focus on Core Competencies: By outsourcing staffing management to MSPs, life sciences organizations can concentrate on their core business activities, such as research and development.

Talent management is no longer a process; it’s transforming into a workforce experience — a series of ongoing, enterprise-wide relationships and interactions that begin at the first day of work and build with every conversation, project, task and assignment. The impact of personalization, interaction and real engagement can’t be underestimated. For that reason, the bond forged between hiring managers, MSPs, and their staffing partners will become more essential than ever. This is often the justification for rationalizing supplier networks to the tried-and-true performers — or just the familiar faces. While that approach can bolster relationships, it may also hinder growth and innovation by inadvertently precluding new relationships to blossom. 

The Downside of Tenure

Designing an end-to-end MSP/VMS program requires building a consolidated vendor model that identifies and addresses the needs of all client stakeholder groups invested in the engagement. The most successful programs are customized to each client’s operation, and a multi-faceted contingent labor solution can span departments and individuals: IT, executive branches, Human Resources, Procurement, Accounts Payable, and the hiring managers responsible for contingent labor categories in each business unit. And though every group has firm expectations and priorities for the program, MSPs learn early on that all practice leaders desire the same outcome from the vendor population – quality talent. But if an MSP relies solely on an established and longstanding supply chain, is it getting access to fresh candidate pipelines, innovative practices, different approaches, and new ideas?  

Keeping tenured suppliers for an extended period can have its downsides. While experienced suppliers bring stability and familiarity to the program, there are drawbacks to relying on them exclusively. 

  • Stagnation and Complacency: Tenured suppliers may become complacent due to their long-standing relationships with the company. They may not feel the need to innovate, improve their services, or stay competitive in terms of pricing and quality.
  • Limited Perspectives: Long-term suppliers might become entrenched in their ways of doing things, which can limit the introduction of fresh ideas and innovative solutions. Newer suppliers often bring different perspectives and approaches that can lead to process improvements and cost savings.
  • Decreased Cost Competitiveness: Over time, tenured suppliers may become less price-competitive because they are confident in their position within the program. This can lead to higher costs for the staffing company, which could be mitigated by exploring new suppliers with more competitive pricing structures.
  • Risk of Dependency: Relying solely on tenured suppliers can create a dependency that poses risks if one of these suppliers faces financial instability or other issues. Diversifying the supplier base by considering newer suppliers can reduce this dependency and associated risks.
  • Limited Access to Emerging Technologies: The staffing industry is constantly evolving with new technologies and tools that can enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Older suppliers may not be as quick to adopt these technologies, potentially putting the staffing company at a disadvantage in terms of innovation and competitiveness.

Why Newer Staffing Suppliers Should Be Given a Chance

While tenured suppliers provide stability and familiarity in MSP programs, relying exclusively on them can lead to complacency, increased costs, and limited innovation. To strengthen the program, staffing companies should consider the benefits of engaging newer suppliers who bring fresh ideas, competitive pricing, and a willingness to adapt to emerging trends and technologies. Balancing the mix of tenured and newer suppliers can help create a more dynamic and resilient MSP program.

Fresh Ideas and Innovation. Newer suppliers often bring innovative ideas and technologies to the table. Their eagerness to establish themselves in the market can result in a higher level of creativity and adaptability.

  • Competitive Pricing: New suppliers are often more willing to offer competitive pricing to win contracts and establish a foothold in the industry. This can lead to cost savings for the staffing company.
  • Diverse Skill Sets: Exploring new suppliers can diversify the skill sets and capabilities available to the staffing company, potentially providing access to specialized talent or niche markets.
  • Reduced Risk and Dependency: Engaging with multiple suppliers, including newer ones, can reduce the risk of over-dependence on a single provider. This safeguards against potential disruptions in the event of supplier issues.
  • Improved Negotiation Leverage: Having a mix of tenured and newer suppliers can strengthen the staffing company's position during contract negotiations, enabling them to secure more favorable terms and conditions.
  • Healthy Competition: Introducing new suppliers encourages healthy competition among providers, motivating all parties to continuously improve their services, quality, and pricing.

The Big Benefit of Small Businesses

Smaller businesses are instrumental to the financial success of the nation, and not just for job creation or their contributions to local economies. Though large corporations may dominate markets and rake in incredible revenues, they still need these modestly sized vendors to provide essential products and services, along with new or novel perspectives. Here are some benefits that smaller companies could offer over their larger competitors.

  • Personalized Service: Smaller staffing firms often provide more personalized service, taking the time to understand your unique needs and culture.
  • Niche Expertise: Specialized startups may have a deeper understanding of niche roles within the life sciences sector, allowing for more precise candidate matching.
  • Flexibility: Smaller firms are often more flexible in their approach, adapting quickly to changing requirements or unforeseen challenges.
  • Cost-Effective: Newer suppliers may offer competitive pricing, helping you manage your staffing budget effectively.

Bringing on Staffing Firms Directly

In the dynamic and highly regulated world of life sciences, choosing whether to use MSPs or work directly with staffing suppliers is a crucial decision. Each approach has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, there are times when some departments have niche needs that can’t always be accommodated by the general supply base. Enlisting specialty suppliers directly can solve the problem. In any case, the best advice is to consider your organization's unique needs, budget, and long-term goals when making this choice. While MSPs offer efficiency and convenience, there are benefits to working directly with staffing firms as well.

  • Direct Communication: Direct engagement allows for more direct and immediate communication with staffing suppliers, enhancing transparency and collaboration.
  • Better Cultural Fit: Working closely with staffing firms enables a deeper understanding of your company's culture, resulting in better candidate fits.
  • Tailored Solutions: Direct suppliers can create customized staffing solutions aligned with your unique needs and long-term goals.
  • Faster Response Time: By cutting out intermediaries, you can often expedite the hiring process and secure talent more rapidly.

Don't underestimate the potential of smaller staffing suppliers who can bring niche expertise, personalized service, and cost-effective solutions to the table. Ultimately, the key to success lies in finding the right balance that maximizes efficiency while meeting your specific talent requirements. 

Innovation Requires New Perspectives

In the rapidly transforming life sciences industry, HR teams have become more instrumental in supporting their businesses and their employees, especially in navigating the lingering impacts of the pandemic, an increasingly volatile economy, and the demands of building a productive and highly skilled labor force in a tight market. Innovation, in this instance, has played a pivotal role as both an opportunity generator and a staffing concern. And without new ideas, innovation stagnates.

Some of the biggest labor challenges that life sciences leaders endure today are issues that the staffing industry has conquered. By introducing new suppliers into existing MSP programs, clients can receive the support they need while focusing on the future gains of their growing enterprises and the vital solutions they deliver. 

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

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