Large employers with high seasonal and temp hiring needs used to be the primary users of VMS and MSP services. That began to change more than a decade ago, as companies, witnessing the explosion of contract developers and others by the tech industry, saw the strategic value of bringing on temporary workers.
Ironically, the Great Recession accelerated the process. During the first difficult years, companies laid off their contingent workers before their full-timers, discovering what the seasonal hirers already knew: A contingent workforce can be RIFed quickly without paying unemployment (unless they were the employer of record), severance, or risking the negative publicity that comes with wholesale layoffs.
Betting on the continued growth of the contingent labor market, Bullhorn today announced it acquired its VMS tech partner The Code Works, and its primary product, VMS Access. No purchase price was disclosed.
VMS Access is a sort of middleware, making it possible for staffing firms of any size to compete for temp contracts at employers with master supplier contracts or their own Vendor Management System. With several dozen different software systems in use, an agency has to figure out how to interact with each in order to participate. VMS Access provides that solution, connecting with more than 40 different VMS to collect job reqs and other information and delivering it to the front-end systems most commonly used by staffing agencies.
Said Art Papas, founder and CEO of Bullhorn, “Bullhorn VMS Access will help drive Bullhorn’s growth in the VMS industry and beyond. This vendor neutral solution extends Bullhorn’s product portfolio and will allow us to develop new offerings to help improve customer productivity.”
According to Staffing Industry Analysts, contingent workers accounted for 11% of the workforce in 2005. Today, it’s 18% on the way to 20% or slightly higher before the end of the decade. There’s some speculation that at the largest companies, temp workers could eventually account for as much as 50% of the labor force.
Globally, the contingent market is $2 trillion plus, says SIA.
Sourcing, hiring, and managing a contingent workforce is no small matter. (Amazon, for instance, employs some 38,000 temps.) No wonder that three-quarters of the largest employers use a VMS and two-thirds use a MSP.
It’s a trend that has not gone unnoticed by other vendors. BountyJobs began life as a marketplace auction for search firms to bid on engagements by direct hire companies. It has since evolved to become a sort of on-demand VMS through which it is possible to hire for temp positions, though its sweet spot is clearly perm.
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A second company, Scout Management Solutions, is more like a MSP, enabling companies to source, hire, and even manage time and attendance of temporary, hourly workers.
Bullhorn’s acquisition of VMS Access is a logical step for the privately held company. Since itself being acquired two years ago by Vista Equity Partners, Bullhorn bought up two of its competitors — MaxHire and Sendouts — and acquired a time and billing vendor. The acquisitions gave Bullhorn, a temp and contract staffing vendor, a strong position in the executive search market and added a missing piece to its SaaS software suite.
With the addition of VMS Access, Bullhorn gains a competitive advantage by owning the only ubiquitous tool that works with so many VMS types. While the company says it will continue to offer VMS Access to non-Bullhorn customers on a standalone basis, integrating it with the company’s offerings makes for a powerful combination of services that works with client databases, sourcing, time and attendance, billing and other front and back-end services.
The company announcement notes that now, “Bullhorn will be able to provide Big Data analytics to give staffing agency customers intelligence and insight into Fortune 500 contingent labor buying practices.”
Leveraging its existing MSP platform, which allows staffing firms to operate as MSPs or sub-vendors, Bullhorn says the addition of VMS integration will enhance that capability, and provide a platform for features to be added in the coming months.
Bullhorns says it will retain the six member Code Works staff, all of whom work remotely. COO and co-founder Jonathan Novich will become Bullhorn’s new General Manager of Cloud-Based Integration Technologies.