james_montague Temporary Staffing Issues

Horror in the Trenches! The End

August 11, 2006

The problem has been identified, the solutions researched, decisions made and a vendor selected.  It would seem that Stephanie has done her due diligence and made decisions that are appropriate for her department and organization.  Kudos to Stephanie!  Now she can sit back and relax……NOT!  The last step in many ways is the most important and that is managing the vendor relationship!  There are still many things to do to begin and continue a valued partnership, the cornerstone being communication. 

All of the decision models and research don’t mean a thing if you can’t communicate with your vendors efficiently.  Problems will definitely arise and what systems are in place to deal with those.  The temp you brought in just isn’t working out, what steps are taken to get a replacement?  You thought you were to be billed monthly and the company expected to pay the temp weekly.  How often does the vendor “check in” to see how things are going?  What is the plan to reduce the number of temps as you get more of your own staff hired and trained? 

Often times this outside set of eyes you have brought in can see things in your department you are too close to see.  Certainly this is feedback you’d like to have and if the only dialogue is between the temp and their placement organization it is feedback you won’t get.  You also need to have an idea of what outcomes or measures you need to have in place to track whether your needs are being met, from a work flow and a financial standpoint.  If you are repeatedly having to replace temporary staff you haven’t help yourself from an efficiency standpoint.  Have a plan and measure it.

Thank you for your attention this week!  It has been my pleasure to relate my experience, and best of luck with your staffing needs!

Horror in the Trenches! The Selection

August 10, 2006

There are many companies that profess to provide the service that Stephanie has been looking for, but what steps can be taken to help decide who to entrust with your meetings?

Stephanie considers the following items as she continues her search:

1)     Company history; How long have they been in business?  How large an organization are they? Proven track record within her industry?

2)     References;  Are they willing to provide?  What do they say?  Are they credible company references?

3)     Services; Do they provide the services she needs?  All/Some?  Do their services compete with hers?  Can she pilot their services prior to contract?  Do they have a service guarantee?

4)     Contractual Terms & Conditions;  Can she preview a contract before signing?  What are the payment terms?  Is there a liberal or stringent cancellation policy? Do they offer volume discounts or rebates?

5)     Management; Can she speak with the company’s upper management?  Do they understand her needs and industry?

6)     Technology; Do they make efficient use of technology? 

7)     Reporting; What is their communication plan for feedback?  What information will she need them to provide?

8)     Competitor differentiation; How are they distinctive from other companies?  How do they benchmark against other companies?

9)     Professionalism; Do they have a website?  Printed materials?  Support staff?  Professional appearance?

10)  Geography; Can they be where she needs them to be?

Certainly there are many details that go into selecting a viable partner and these are just a few to consider. 

What criteria do you use when you are looking for a vendor, especially someone that is going to be working so closely with you inside your organization?

Horror in the Trenches! Part Three

August 09, 2006

By James Montague

So Stephanie has decided to implement a temporary staffing model.  The expenses work and she gets immediate relief for her overworked staff.  The only decision left is what pieces of the logistical process to have temporary staff work on.  For Stephanie there are pieces of the meeting development process that are better kept with her in-house planners; budgets, contract negotiations and speaker recruitment.  To her organization these are items they want to keep a close watch on because they have the most potential to adversely affect clients.  Other pieces like registration, on-site management, venue selection, F&B and travel are important but if managed properly can be handled by temporary staff or outsourced completely.

Stephanie also needs to decide if one organization has the resources to handle all of the areas she needs.  The decision to bring in temporary staffing can also weigh on the vendor she chooses to help support her.  Do they have people with the skill set to provide some or all of the services needed?  Will she need to engage more than one vendor to fulfill all her needs?  Who will manage the vendor(s)?  Are there organizations that have people skilled in her specific area of meeting management; association, medical meetings, government meetings, etc? 

Ok you guys have been silent long enough out there in cyberland!  I’m sure your colleagues would welcome your ideas or horror stories with temporary staffing!  Or has every temp you brought in worked out perfectly? 

Tomorrow we will discuss the process for engaging temporary staffing vendors and my checklist for vendor selections.

Horror in the Trenches! Part Two

August 08, 2006

By James Montague

Stephanie knows that she has to have her information ready and concise before she even approaches Finance about looking at outsourcing options for her company.  In her own mind she is still struggling with the “how do I decide what to do” issue.  Stephanie first looks at what her needs are, both short term and long term.  “Is this problem a short term issue”, “are things already being done that will make this problem go away”, “are there external resources that can help”? 

It’s obvious that Stephanie has short term problems, large amounts of work to get done and not enough hands to do it.  Even if the new client contracts continue long term there still exists an immediate need for Stephanie to service her clients.  Budgets are tight because the revenue from new contracts are not being collected yet so asking for permanent staff will be a tough sell.  Her situation seems to fit a temporary outsourcing solution.  In this time of departmental growth and change Stephanie needs to stay focused on managing her resources.  Even though she does “roll up her sleeves” it certainly isn’t the most efficient use of her time for the organization.

To be fair, the alternative is to hire permanent staff which would be a fixed cost to her company.  And as we all know it takes time to find the right people and even longer to get them trained.  Stephanie has an immediate problem and hiring may take 4 months or longer to get any relief!  Temporary staffing is a variable cost, which means Stephanie can us the resource as long as she needs and then the expense is gone.  She can also use temporary staff to handle onsite logistics so it keeps her managers in the office where they can be more efficient.  This is true even if her broader goal is to bring on more staff; the immediate needs of the clients are fulfilled with adding temporary staff.   

Tomorrow we will look at the more specific decision of “what to keep and what can be outsourced”.

Horror in the Trenches

August 06, 2006

By James Montague

“Temporary Staffing Issues” - Regardless of your situation the solutions to your problems are many and varied.  As you know there is no magic formula but we will seek to understand how to decide if and when to hire temporary staffing.  We begin….

Horror in the trenches! (A true story about a fictional person)

Part 1

It’s just another Monday for Stephanie at Widgets R Us.  Two of her meeting planners were delayed in Chicago, her best meeting manager finished her last day of work last Friday, and there is a client on her phone panicking about the venue her team has chosen. Certainly things could be worse; how could Finance not approve her budget request for 5 more planners to handle the new contract? 

Stephanie knows that to ask her staff to do more would mean certain mutiny; yet the work has to get done.  So ask she does, the obvious implication of not doing so is unhappy clients and lost business.  She has good people who understand the client comes first and they’ll pitch in…for a while!  Stephanie gets right in the trenches, rolls up her sleeves and digs right in to help.  And that is exactly what she is doing when her newest hire pops her head in to begin her training.  “There has got to be a better way, a better plan!” she thinks to herself. 

Stephanie’s long day finally comes to an end at 7:38pm; already late for dinner with the family Stephanie slumps back in her chair.  Finally, with a moment to breath and think clearly she remembers reading a post on MeetingsCommunity about how some people have solved these problems with temporary staffing.  At home, she jumps on the internet to do more research…its 10:13 PM.


I’m sure we have all had days that would compare to this one!  Hopefully not many, and hopefully not all of these things happen on the same day, but they do happen.  And it’s how we respond to these challenges that builds trust within our organizations, with our staff and with those higher up. What will Stephanie do, what will she do??  Tune in tomorrow as we discuss some decision criteria for outsourcing.  Areas that will include: fixed vs. variable costs, single vs. multiple vendors and how do you really determine your true costs.  As always please post your questions! 

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