Managing Vendors, Managing Resources

It’s summer and it’s a hot one out there! And I’m not just speaking of Gwen Darling’s recent move to the capital of hot days Tulsa, OK; I’m talking about the Healthcare IT consulting market. Phew it’s hot out there! For proof, just check out the jobs listed at HealthcareITCentral.com. These babies are updated daily and there are loads and loads of them, too. Thanks to ARRA, hospitals, clinics and the like are looking for consultants to help them implement EMRs. Good time to be an EMR consultant if you ask me, and I’m kicking myself over that Economics major in college. Why didn’t I pick IT?!

To sum, there are lots of EMR jobs out there and as it seems, not enough consultants to fill them. Classic supply and demand dilemma – ok, Economics wasn’t so bad after all. So how does a hospital find the people they need to get the job done? Most hire consulting and staff augmentation vendors, though with varying success. The following are common vendor management problems and my recommendations for how to successfully manage your resources.

“The more vendors you hire, the more people you’ll get” is a misnomer. I recently had a conversation with a client who said, “I have gotten the same person from four different vendors.” This person also questioned how he could tell which vendor actually had the candidate’s permission to send over their resume and who even asked the candidate if they had already been presented. That’s frustrating for the client and the candidate because nobody wants to get into the middle of a vendor squabble.

I worked with a client in the past that contracted with over 200 staffing resources. 200! Working with so many vendors diminished the reputation of their project. If you’ll remember, EMR consultants are in short supply, so your vendors are all recruiting in the same pool of people. When 15 recruiters call the same consultant, the consultant naturally questions why the hospital can’t find consultants as well as just gets irritated by all the calls and emails about the same project. Some of the consultants I work with have created new email accounts because their inboxes were overrun with recruiting emails.

On the other hand, using just one vendor isn’t going to get the job done either. There’s so great a need for people out there that tapping into multiple pipelines and networks is a good idea. When you have an immediate and critical need for resources, you definitely want to maximize your chances of the finding the right candidate.

Give yourself and your vendors some lead time, too. Don’t wait until the last minute to find your consultants because in the tight market, the chances of finding someone with immediate availability are low. Send out your request at least a month in advance to account for resourcing and interviewing time as well as accommodating for a two weeks’ notice if your consultant will be leaving another employer.

I suggest to all healthcare organizations managing consultant resources through vendors is to find a balance between not enough and too many vendors. Using three to four preferred and trusted resources is ideal. Meet with each consulting firm to build a trustful relationship and ask them about how they find their people and what questions they ask them to ensure your consultants are giving firms permission to represent them. Be picky and find vendors that will commit to finding you the right people. You and your vendors will be more successful together. Now doesn’t that sound like a hot prospect?

About the author

Cassie Sturdevant

Cassie Sturdevant is a Senior Recruiter for Impact Advisors, a healthcare IT strategic and implementation services consulting firm just named 2013 Best in KLAS for Overall Services. She specializes in humor and follow up.

3 Comments

  • Cassie, as a Report Writer Consultant, this post really hit the nail on the head. I posted my resume on Dice and Monster and before I know it I was receiving phone calls and emails from recruiters every day.

    The funny thing about the vendors is not just they are trying to recruit for the same clients but rather the rates ranges are very wide. You can clearly tell which vendor is trying to take advantage of you by offering a much lower hourly rate and which vendors are more reasonable.

    While you don’t want many vendors represent you as a consultant I would suggest talking to multiple of them to get a better picture of the client. (Most of the same position email comes in the within 3 ~ 4 days as the client decides to open up the position).

  • Yes, Pat – you are on point from my perspective as an EMR Build/Analyst Consultant. Your last paragraph regarding the “surge” of emails and phone calls one receives from the various recruiters and recruiting firms as soon as new contract assignments are released. I have also learned how to take my time and listen to many of these calls and get the details, evaluate what they know about the opportunity (i.e. job specifications, location, rate, etc). All of this information is so important to get this range of data that will help in the negotiation process, IF you decide to allow one of these recruiters to represent you. I’m always, always careful of who I allow to represent me – the last thing you need is your resume being floated around and around to a healthcare facility client without your knowledge (I got “burned” a couple time like this in the past – LESSONS LEARNED!)

    Regards,
    Shirley

  • Hello Shirley and Pat,

    Thank you both for your comments. I agree 100% with you both that you, as the consultant, have the right to be represented by whom and to whom you choose. It is important to interview your potential representative firms and the number one suggestion I would make is to ensure this/these firms will not send you to a client without your permission. It’s your career and firms should help, not hinder it.

    A question for you both: Are there other qualifications you look for (other than rate) when interviewing a firm?

    Thank you both again!
    Cassie

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