Staffing VMS: The Need vs. Want Experiment

Posted by Don King on Jun 6, 2018 4:36:52 PM

This week’s blog post comes from a staffing industry veteran, workforce management aficionado, and all around great guy. He’s awfully funny too. Thank you, Linden, for the insight, wisdom, and good humor. If you’ve ever wondered how just beneficial a VMS platform might be, now is your chance to learn how a technology pro keeps the Human in Human Capital in a simple, smart, and scalable way.


There is a fascinating video circulating on social media (here). A man known for his social experiments tapes $1 bills all over his suit and walks around Manhattan with a sign telling passersby to take what they need. Several men in expensive looking suits and women with designer bags stop and take money, with one lady (carrying a Louis Vuitton purse, mind you) saying she needs it for a nail appointment. However, a homeless man with a dog only takes $2 and insists that's all he needs for food that day - and tells the money-suited man to give the rest to others in need.

For me, I’m still looking for the guy with the suit covered in Benjamins…

Need, I guess, has become a relative concept. Or we could say that our culture, and business as well, has a hard time determining an accurate definition of a true need and a mere want, and what a ‘must-have’ really is. The big difference in business is that, instead of plucking money from a stranger’s suit, you have to pay for those wants – and typically they cost significantly more than just what you need to efficiently run your business.

Such is true in a staffing VMS as well. Many of these powerful tools created by massive IT development shops have nearly endless bells and whistles. But, especially for smaller/mid-market users of staffing services, do you really need all of that stuff? Do you really need all that functionality to manage 5-10 staffing suppliers?

I’m sure you’ve heard the stories, or even been in the meetings. The client wants the VMS to integrate into every imaginable system they have in place – HRIS (co-employment issues maybe?), ERP, Finance and Accounting, CRM (why, might I ask?), drug and background screen vendors (privacy issues?), Skype (for video interviews, I presume), and maybe even, as crazy as it sounds, social media (Facebook and Snapchat - everyone’s there, right?).

Really? Even if you could get all of those platforms to efficiently talk to one another, is this kind of thing really needed or all that helpful?

Could one possibly think that VMS technology could manage a staffing program on its own, something comparable to Artificial Intelligence (AI), and that no human resources are needed in managing the tools, processes, and suppliers?  I’m envisioning a kind of self-driving car for contingent workforce management.

Is that possible? I guess. But is it practical and cost-effective? Probably not. For example, the local car dealership thinks I need a Lamborghini instead of my practical, paid off compact. They think tooling around the neighborhood with my wife and special needs kids (including the wheelchair) would only be fully satisfying in this kind of vehicle. But I digress…

In terms of a system’s complexity, do you really need all of those reports? How much data can you actually digest and execute on? And, aren’t you running the risk of click induced Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which is a worker’s comp nightmare?

What staffing programs need is simple, scalable, smart technology: not overdone or oversold, a system they need and can realistically grow into. Fluidity is key in selecting a platform that adjusts as they and the market change, one that doesn’t become the focus instead of the human aspects of human capital management.

Let’s consider that the greatest functionality needed for a smaller, nimbler enterprise probably is a VMS that’s really simple to use for everyone who touches the tool, not one that has endless screens to navigate and a repository of 6000 reports (5990 of which you will never use). And, what if I told you that you could get a lot more functionality than you really need (and some things that you really want, too) at a lower cost? It’s possible to have more than enough technological horsepower to achieve your desired goals in managing your staffing program without being swallowed whole by an overwhelming platform and a labyrinth of integrations that often frustrates more than it benefits.

Focus on what you need with a staffing VMS rather than the unrealistic dream of what you want in an imaginary perfect world. Don’t be lured by shiny gadgets and tools – focus on what you need and make sure it’s simple enough that it truly creates value for where you are and where you are going as a company with critical staffing demands.

Unless, in fact, you can find that man wearing a Benjamin covered suit offering you free cash for your Lamborghini VMS.

Want to learn more? Please contact Linden Wolfe, PHR, CCWP at or visit Excelsior MS3P - simple, scalable, smart

Topics: VMS, IWT, Staffing

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