Revolutionize Your Talent Strategy with a Modern Vendor Management App
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Drive Your Talent Strategy with the Right Vendor Management App

In this article, we examine how a modern vendor management app can improve the performance of your indirect staffing vendor management program.

Every business needs a vendor management app to thrive in the gig economy

Take yourself back a decade. Most companies assumed the best way to get jobs done was to employ someone to do it. A lot has changed since then— the rise of AI-driven recruitment, software bots (often described as ‘Robotic Process Automation’), and not forgetting the rise of the Gig Economy.

Today we see headlines that tell the story of a growing gig work culture; that every third person you meet has a side hustle, the pace of baby boomer exits from the business world is accelerating, more of us want to work from home at least twice a week, and the latest generations of workers, the millenials and Gen-Z, are not keen to replace the baby boomers on the treadmill of office work-life.

Millenials have seen first-hand that corporate loyalty doesn’t necessarily bring rewards or long-term security in today’s economic environment. They want a different deal, one that doesn’t hurt their wellbeing, personal development, and lets them have a say in the direction of the company.

To harness this new gig workforce, the instrumentation used to source and manage workers hired on-demand needs to change. While the talent technology domain is developing fast, the start point that every business needs to support its talent strategy is the right Vendor Management System (VMS). But once you dig into detail, you’ll soon realize that not every VMS is the same.

All vendor management apps  begin in the same place, but end up somewhere else

The purpose of a vendor management app is to manage the indirect staffing supply chain, its vendors, and the hires they source. Unlike other forms of software, a VMS serves many departments—HR, Finance, Procurement, third-party suppliers, etc.. It also serves a wide range of stakeholder roles, including hiring managers, candidates, and contractors.

The natural consequence of having to serve so many stakeholder groups is that VMS architects face a thankless task of trying to please everyone. But that’s not how software development works. Almost inevitably, as vendor management apps mature, demands from the loudest stakeholder audience come to dominate.

In the case of some of the best-known vendor management apps, this organic evolutionary path is further influenced by acquisitions and mergers. When SAP bought FieldGlass, industry watchers saw a drift of FieldGlass features away from the cutting edge and more towards the procurement function where SAP dominates. And with its focus on Staffing Spend Management, Coupa’s VMS product development is a similar story. Similarly, the recent acquisition of VMS vendor VINDLY by HRM provider Workday has got market analysts anticipating a shift of the VINDLY product suite focal point towards HR needs.

Finding the right VMS for your business begins by knowing what you’re asking of it

No organization is a greenfield when it comes to enterprise IT. Inevitably, the systems choices made in the past influence the next successive purchase. Therefore, for an organization committed to SAP will inevitably lean towards SAP FieldGlass. It also means a VMS procurement driven by the procurement team is more likely to find the Coupa and FieldGlass VMS offerings more inviting at first glance; attracted as they will be by the spend management legacy and strengths of these solutions for procurement teams. But these knee-jerk instincts might fall short of an effective procurement strategy.

The best way to select a vendor management app is to adopt a well-rounded view of how the organization as a whole can benefit from software to manage hiring. The shadow of that review should stretch way beyond any given department or stakeholder group.

Your first step should be to round out your talent strategy ambitions

For an organization committed to getting talent sourcing fit in the Gig Economy culture, the scope of VMS functionality must steer beyond the needs of siloed HR and procurement ambitions.

Talent strategies of today must incorporate both full-time and contracted workers. The best way to do this is to start at the ‘other end’ of the problem, by dissecting the list of jobs to be done and working out the best way—be it human, machine, digital marketplace or outsourced supplier—to get the job done.

Such an approach requires just one decision- making authority and process, which is why talent practitioners are thinking in terms of Total Talent Management (TTM) strategies led by a blend of HR and procurement roles.

Having done this, you will discover that many tasks can be performed through gig portals or SOW contracts to outsource projects in their entirety. Other jobs will be best served by sourcing on-demand talent. Direct Sourcing is by far the most cost-effective approach to achieve this. Surprisingly, remarkably few legacy vendor management apps offer all these options out of the box (and that’s partly because their R&D roadmaps have been sidetracked to focus on HR and procurement priorities).

You need to check under the hood to find best VMS

One of the more fundamental characteristics of the latest tranche of Vendor Management tools lies in the move by some to cloud glueware architectures. In the old model of software architecture, VMS vendors would produce a SaaS app, which took a long time to configure and embed into business systems and processes.

In contrast, the new glueware architectures of private cloud VMS are formed around a plug-and-play ethos, making data integration with third-party systems simpler.

Additionally, best-in-class SaaS tools for candidate vetting, market-rate insights, right to work checks — can be more easily ‘glued in.’

Ian Tomlin

Ian Tomlin

Ian Tomlin


Ian Tomlin is a marketer, entrepreneur, business leader and management consultant. His passion is to help make great ideas happen. Relentlessly optimistic about the potential of technology for good, Ian’s 30+ year career has focused around the intersect of strategy, technology and marketing. He writes on subjects including workforce management, future of work, talent acquisition technology and organizational design.

Ian has written books, articles and guides on brand, digital transformation, enterprise applications, data science, and organizational design. He can be reached via LinkedIn or Twitter. Twitter and LinkedIn