July 10th, 2024 | Sterling

How Sterling Helps TAPFIN Navigate Background Checks for Contingent Workforce Management

In today’s fast-paced business environment, the role of managed service providers (MSPs) has become increasingly crucial. As organizations strive to stay competitive, they often seek external expertise to streamline processes, manage contingent workforces, and drive innovation while being cost efficient.

To better understand the challenges and successes of screening partnerships for MSPs, Sterling joined in conversation on a Sterling Live episode with Talent Solutions TAPFIN, a leading managed service provider (MSP) dedicated to the innovation and delivery of integrated workforce management solutions worldwide and part of the ManpowerGroup (NYSE: MAN) family of brands. We spoke with Melissa Harding, Managing Director of Global Partnerships at TAPFIN, and Evangeline Lopez, Practice Leader of the Staffing Industry at Sterling.

Melissa has a staffing and HR background that spans decades, and she is responsible for building the partnership ecosystem at TAPFIN, including their partnership with Sterling. Evangeline’s primary role at Sterling is to provide leadership insights and expertise to enhance our partners’ ability to meet client needs effectively. She empowers her Client Success Partner and Associate Teams with strategic guidance and support to foster strong day-to-day client relationships. 

During the Sterling Live, Melissa shared insights into industry trends around MSPs, TAPFIN’s operational strategies, and their partnership with Sterling. The conversation uncovered the challenges MSPs face, the importance of innovation and compliance, and the impact of digital solutions in workforce management.

Below we delve into the details of the conversation, and what employers should take into consideration when evaluating background screening partners including turnaround times, compliance requirements, and candidate experience.  

You can watch the full episode here:

Q: Can you explain the role of managed service providers (MSPs) and some unique industry highlights and complexities?  

A: Melissa: The role of an MSP is like that of an expert firm hired by a client to manage certain processes or tasks that they might choose to outsource. At TAPFIN, we specialize in managing a significant portion of the contingent workforce for our clients. This entails various responsibilities such as hiring contract labor, talent sustainability efforts, upskilling initiatives, and providing advisory services.

While some might simply view us as “putting people in seats,” our range of services extends far beyond that. What’s particularly notable in our industry lately is the increasing need for clients to focus on their core business functions. With organizations running leaner and individuals wearing multiple hats, outsourcing workforce management to experts like TAPFIN enables clients to redirect their attention internally toward their primary objectives. For example, instead of an IT manager spending valuable time on sourcing candidates, scheduling interviews, and discussing job details, outsourcing these tasks to us allows them to concentrate on tasks like releasing new products or enhancing existing ones. This ability to offload workforce management responsibilities while focusing on core functions is where MSPs like us truly shine in the business landscape.

Q: What are some of the common challenges that managed service providers face?

A: Melissa: I think the major common challenge is how do we innovate? How do we continue to bring new services to organizations and customers? At TAPFIN, we approach this challenge by focusing on our partner ecosystem. Rather than simply extending additional services, we connect our customers with experts in various fields.

For instance, before partnering with Sterling, we dealt with the inefficiencies of working with multiple suppliers for background checks. Before working with Sterling, we would have to work with 50 to 60 suppliers for a customer, relying on them to navigate background checks, hoping and praying that they got the package. I think about being in delivery and operations. I would constantly call suppliers to ask if they had passed their background check.

Standardizing working with MSPs through Sterling’s platform streamlined our operations, allowing us to focus on what we do best: finding creative solutions, optimizing processes, and driving workforce efficiency. Thanks to our partnership with Sterling, our delivery, operations, and engagement teams can now devote their energy to these tasks instead of spending time on administrative tasks like supplier management or auditing.

Q: What are the key roles that TAPFIN has in the contingent workforce management industry?

A: Melissa: TAPFIN serves as an outsourced third-party expert in contingent workforce management. We act as the go-to resource for our clients, leveraging years of research and expertise to identify the best solutions in the industry. From vendor management systems to background check companies, we rely on thorough internal consultation to ensure our clients benefit from our extensive knowledge and partnerships.

Essentially, we function as a one-stop shop, providing insights into industry standards, SLAs, and cycle times. For example, we evaluate direct sourcing technology beyond sales pitches by actively testing tools through RFI processes. This commitment to thorough research and consultation allows our clients to trust in our expertise and rely on us to deliver optimal solutions.

A: Melissa: Currently, our clients are pushing us to be faster, better, and more automated. They’re seeking digital solutions, and while AI is often mentioned, the reality is that automation and digitalization are becoming imperative. Take, for instance, our integration with Sterling. It allowed our team to monitor progress in real time, eliminating the need for constant phone calls to check on background checks.

Automation and digitalization are key trends driving our industry forward, and we’re embracing our role in this. While cost savings and remaining a people-centered business are still at our core, we’re increasingly becoming a people and tech business, aligning with the industry’s trajectory.

A: Evangeline: We’re continuing to explore different ways to leverage technology to make things quicker and better and to help our clients feel well-supported, educated and equipped to have meaningful conversations.

Q: What were you looking for when selecting your background screening provider?

A: Melissa: Quality, global reach, and innovation were our primary criteria when evaluating partners. Additionally, we sought partners with whom we could trust and be transparent, especially during challenging times.

Sterling checked all these boxes for us, offering quality service, global coverage, and a commitment to transparency and reliability. A great example of this would be during Covid, we had to navigate things that we’d never witnessed before with the pandemic. We were getting reports and messages from Sterling that kept us up-to-date on what they were hearing. This was a huge example of how our partnership grew, because it was a conversation about how we do better, bring more quality to existing programs, and increase cycle time.

Q: Can you explain TAPFIN’s corporate and operational strategy and how Sterling ties into that strategy for your team?

A: Melissa: Our strategy focuses on leveraging partnerships rather than diluting our core competency through acquisitions or expanding into unrelated areas. We identify our strengths and seek partners like Sterling to complement them. This strategy involves building an ecosystem of like-minded organizations to serve our customers better. We value intentional partnerships over neutrality and strive to provide equal opportunities to all partners, regardless of their size or corporate brand.

When you think about an MSP in a national organization, they may have 100 different suppliers and they may have entrenched relationships with all these various departments. When you bring in a managed service provider like TAPFIN, it levels the playing field.

For example, a small firm may only know certain managers may not have the opportunities across an organization to reduce cycle time and their overall cost of sale. At TAPFIN we are able to create opportunity that’s equal for everyone.

A: Evangeline: We align with TAPFIN’s strategy by ensuring our partnership offers tangible benefits and solutions that support their core functions. We focus on understanding TAPFIN’s needs and actively contribute to their success through technology, support, and innovation.

Q: Before partnering with Sterling, what were some of the challenges you faced that might be insightful for our staffing audience to hear about?

A: Melissa: Lack of uniformity among staffing suppliers in selecting background check companies. Without a standardized approach, we grappled with varying levels of quality and efficiency across our programs. Our primary objective is to onboard top-notch talent, but this variability posed considerable risks and complexities.

For instance, individuals were waiting on high school transcripts, leading to unnecessary delays and heightened risk exposure. Mandating a Sterling program across our clients became imperative to mitigate these issues. While some may hesitate at the notion of mandates, the benefits of reduced risk and streamlined processes are undeniable.

By aligning with an organization like Sterling, suppliers can leverage economies of scale and access comprehensive background check solutions efficiently, ultimately enhancing program effectiveness.

Q: Can you elaborate on the importance of turnaround time for candidate?

 A: Melissa: With record-low unemployment rates in today’s global economy, candidates often receive multiple job offers. We aim to ensure that our opportunities stand out and are accepted. If delays occur, candidates may opt for alternative offers, resulting in missed opportunities and revenue losses.   

Supplies rely on our efficiency to help them get more wins. By fostering a collaborative approach with suppliers, we prioritize efficiency and success for all parties involved.

A: Evangeline: I think quick turnaround times and candidate experience are both very important. Like Melissa said, she knows she can pick up the phone and call her Client Success Partner and get an answer right away. We pride ourselves in supporting internal turnaround times with our global support model.

Q: Can you delve deeper into how compliance factors into TAPFIN’s hiring processes and the benefits of partnering with Sterling in this regard?

A: Melissa: We work with several industries, including pharma and healthcare. Maintaining compliance ensures not only regulatory adherence, but also mitigates risks and upholds our reputation. Our partnership with Sterling plays a crucial role in this aspect. Sterling’s expertise and proactive approach allow us to navigate these complexities seamlessly. Clients trust us to deliver on our promises, and Sterling’s support is instrumental in upholding that trust. Their commitment to accuracy and agility aligns with our mission to provide unparalleled service to our clients and candidates alike.

A: Evangeline: Sterling values compliance, so we ensure that we help our clients stay compliant and provide consistency with larger legislative and compliance challenges. We also ensure that our clients feel educated on what’s happening and what their options are, so we can quickly pivot when we need to make program or process.

We’re fortunate to have individuals within our organization whose role is to focus on those updates and changes and ensure that we are also advocating for our clients.  As a company, we make sure that we have people lobbying to get as much information as possible for an effective and accurate background screen. Ultimately, we want our clients to have all the information they need to make a hiring decision.

Q: Can you describe the current state of your relationship with Sterling and how it’s evolved over the past eight years of partnership?

 A: Melissa: Our partnership with Sterling has grown significantly. We’ve onboarded over 150 suppliers and continually explore new ways to enhance our collaboration.

Personally, I’ve attended several Sterling events to stay updated on their services and innovations. What sets our relationship apart is our willingness to tackle challenging conversations head-on. This transparency allows us to align our goals and drive meaningful client outcomes. 

 A: Evangeline: One of the things that Melissa mentioned earlier is not shying away from some of those more difficult conversations. This allows us to really understand the core of what TAPFIN does, their needs, and how we can best partner. We look at ways that we can be innovative and think outside of the box to create and build motions that will help streamline processes and drive our partnership forward.

Q: Could you elaborate on the implementation process of bringing Sterling on board with TAPFIN?

A: Melissa: Our implementation process with Sterling was thorough and strategic. Before onboarding, we conducted rigorous competitive analyses to ensure that we’re partnering with the best in the market. Once aligned, we collaborated closely with Sterling to tailor solutions to our clients’ needs. This involved evaluating existing processes, identifying areas for improvement, and designing standardized programs.

Our goal is to create seamless, efficient workflows that drive cost savings and enhance the candidate experience. With Sterling’s support, we’ve successfully implemented numerous programs, empowering our clients to achieve their workforce goals effectively. 

A: Evangeline: Something that’s unique to the MSP and staffing industry is that our clients choose us every day. Staffing organizations work with multiple background providers, which means they have options and different experiences across vendors to compare and choose between. Because of their own client requirements, they also know that the engagement with us  is not a one and done implementation process. We add new supplier programs and accounts regularly, so our relationship evolves and expands over time as the clients of our MSP and Staffing partners programs evolve and expand.  Our strong partnership and transparent conversations about our client’s requirements and pain points help us to improve this experience and drive growth effectively for TAPFIN and other MSP and Staffing clients.  

Q: Can you tell us more about the interactions you have with Sterling’s client success team?

A: Melissa: We’re unlike a lot of customers because we’re like a cohort of customers. Every one of our clients is a little bit different and has a different need. We have all these program teams under each customer and each of them has the opportunity to reach out and feel connected to Sterling. They understand what package was created for that client.

A:  Evangeline: Our relationship includes ongoing collaboration and support. Because TAPFIN supports many industries, Sterling leverages all the industry expertise we have at our fingertips for additional knowledge and support. I can go to Melissa and inform her of what we are hearing from the manufacturing or the transportation sector. I can explain some of the best practices and things they should be thinking about in their hiring process.  It comes together very nicely from a client support perspective.

Q: Are there any particular reviews or reports that you and your team are finding really helpful from Sterling?

A: Melissa: We engage with Sterling’s client success team regularly to address client-specific needs, review analytics, and discuss industry trends. Sterling provides invaluable insights through reports and analytics, helping us prepare for client meetings and QBRs, identify opportunities, and deliver exceptional service. We’ve also had some situations where we had Sterling come in as a subject matter expert for our customers to talk to them.

A: Evangeline: We provide on-demand tools and insights to support TAPFIN’s needs, offering benchmarking data and real time analytics. Our goal is to ensure TAPFIN feels well-supported and equipped to navigate industry challenges and opportunities effectively and to have direct access to data to help them guide their own clients using accurate program and market data. 

What’s Next?

It’s evident that managed service providers are pivotal players in driving organizational success. Through strategic partnerships, relentless innovation, and a commitment to excellence, MSPs like TAPFIN are revolutionizing the way businesses manage their contingent workforce.

Learn more about Sterling’s staffing hiring suite here.

Learn more about how TAPFIN can support your contingent hiring needs here.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.