Having been awarded a place on the Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC) Framework for Temporary Agency Staffing Services, Infinity was keen to understand the objectives and challenges for SUPC’s members. Particularly given the lot awarded to Infinity as the number one supplier on lot 6 – Neutral Vendor Service; a new addition for 2015.
Speaking to Jayne Davis, a Category Manager for SUPC, we were able to gain an important insight into the challenges and drivers for consortium members and how SUPC is focused on supporting those objectives.
There are a number of key challenges, not uncommon to resourcing managed service solutions, that the temporary agency framework has consistently faced in the past. One of the most significant of these challenges is the diverse range of requirements from their member base. Jayne explains:
‘With 60 full and associate member institutions, we cover a broad mix of urban and remote locations. For our more remote members, access to candidates is a constant pressure. Whilst those institutions in densely populated areas or with more specialist requirements, are most often challenged with managing escalating costs when considering their resourcing needs.’
A key focus for Infinity is on partnering with small and medium size recruitment businesses that offer greater niche and local knowledge in areas where supply is limited or specialist services are under-subscribed and therefore at a premium.
As a specialist in the Neutral Vendor market, we were intrigued to understand why this had become a focus for SUPC in this tender process. It is clear that the consortium recognises the benefits of a Neutral Vendor model over and above traditional Master Vendor approaches: broader worker choice, the ability to become immediately compliant whilst retaining the existing supply chain, and a fair and objective supply framework.
However, Jayne Davis also highlights that it is a very new concept for many of their members. ‘Education is an important aspect in the introduction of this new lot. Conveying clearly both what Neutral Vendor is and how it benefits the members is key.’
To that end Infinity have set about creating a Neutral Vendor service that is transparent, easy to access and use, and fundamentally different from existing models which often fail to deliver the depth of quality supply needed.
The model is genuinely neutral in that there are no affiliations or bias; all recruitment businesses ‘genuinely’ get fair access to the vacancies. We have no commercial interest in influencing who fills the vacancy.
Jayne Davis also points out that, ‘supplier engagement has been an issue in the past with some recruitment business losing interest and not providing the level of involvement or commitment needed.’
Indeed at Infinity we recognise this as a key barrier to success. Consequently, we focus the fundamental basis of our model on engaging and supporting the highly valuable and expert resource found in the SME recruitment market. With an engaging payment model which ensures the agency is paid its margin immediately, a respectful and collaborative culture and direct and positive communication with the employer actively encouraged, the supply chain is far more proactive and invested.
Infinity and the SUPC framework are aligned on many things. One thing in particular is the opportunity through the framework to not only offer best in class resourcing solutions but in turn to benefit the community, particularly the student population.
Infinity CEO David Thornhill is a strong believer in supporting local communities, tackling skills shortages and improving youth employment prospects. He says:
‘A unique opportunity presented by our involvement in the SUPC framework is to offer a vital platform for young people in higher and further education to benefit from the rare opportunity to gain work experience and give their working life a flying start.’
And Jayne Davis agrees, ‘Institutions that can offer more opportunities for their students to work are not only making themselves a more attractive option, they are offering an opportunity to learn valuable life skills and office etiquette in a safe and secure environment.’
It is uniquely encouraging for a future-focused organisation like Infinity, to be partnering with such an innovative organisation as SUPC which is constantly observing emerging trends and willing to take a risk to offer a better level of service to their members.
As number one supplier to the Neutral Vendor lot in the SUPC TASS framework, Infinity is looking forward to supporting SUPC moving forwards. David Thornhill concludes, ‘we have a shared vision to offer a broad and high quality supply with substantial national reach, through a culture characterised by a high level of respect and positive engagement. This, in turn, will ultimately offer greater spend efficiencies for SUPC’s member base’.