A Comprehensive Guide To MSP Staffing

By |Published On: November 16th, 2023|

Managed Service Provider (MSP) staffing plays a pivotal role in modern contingent workforce management, offering a flexible, yet robust alternative approach to traditional staffing. Our team has dedicated many years to promoting this approach with our high-quality efforts, however, there is an element of novelty and the unknown about it that may turn some businesses off.

That’s why in this article, we’re looking to clear out all the gray areas – this is your comprehensive guide to MSP staffing. We’ll delve into what it is, what models it can follow, as well as its pros and cons. And finally, we’ll show you how to choose the best MSP staffing provider if you get convinced that this approach can work for your business.

What Is MSP Staffing

What is an MSP in staffing? Short for Managed Services Provider, MSP staffing is a strategic way for businesses to manage their contingent workforce with the help of an external company called an MSP provider. Contingent workforce in this case usually includes temporary employees, freelancers, contractors, and consultants.

MSPs act as intermediaries between businesses and various staffing suppliers, maintaining relationships with staffing agencies, negotiating contracts, and managing the performance of these suppliers. They tend to provide the flexibility to scale the contingent workforce up or down rapidly in case of changing business needs and also have extensive global networks, accessing talent resources beyond any geographic boundaries.

Benefits of MSP Staffing

If done right, MSP staffing can be incredibly useful, resulting in the following benefits:

Access to Top Talent

MSPs maintain extensive talent networks and employ skilled recruiters who are adept at identifying top performers. This means that you can consistently secure individuals with the skills and qualifications needed for even the most demanding and obscure roles.

Furthermore, MSPs often employ advanced candidate sourcing strategies, including AI-driven tools and data analytics. This not only enhances the quality of hires but also reduces the time-to-fill crucial positions. Finally, MSPs also have a keen understanding of market trends and salary benchmarks, allowing them to negotiate competitive compensation packages.

Streamlined Workforce Management

MSPs simplify workforce management by acting as a central hub for all staffing-related activities. They streamline the entire staffing process, from vendor management to onboarding and performance monitoring. This approach often reduces administrative overhead and also fosters greater transparency and accountability.

Additionally, MSPs provide advanced technology platforms that offer real-time insights into workforce metrics. Making data-driven decisions gets easier – you can identify areas of improvement, monitor vendor performance, and implement changes swiftly to enhance overall efficiency if needed.


One of the biggest benefits of MSP staffing is that it offers the flexibility to scale the workforce up or down as needed, responding to changes in market demand, project requirements, or economic conditions. On top of that, scalability also extends to geographical expansion – if an organization decides to enter new markets or expand its operations, MSPs can help navigate the challenges of talent acquisition in unfamiliar regions.

Overall, the ability to scale rapidly reduces the risk of overstaffing or understaffing, both of which can have significant financial implications.

Compliance and Risk Management

MSPs specialize in compliance and risk management, ensuring that all staffing processes align with legal requirements, reducing the risk of costly legal complications, fines, or reputational damage. They tend to have great knowledge of local, national, and international labor regulations, including wage laws, tax requirements, and employment rights.

Moreover, MSPs often employ compliance experts who conduct regular audits to identify potential compliance gaps, proactively mitigating risks for their clients.

Consistency in Hiring

MSPs usually employ standardized recruitment processes and criteria to ensure that every candidate is evaluated and selected based on the same standards. These processes encompass everything from job description writing and candidate screening to interview protocols and offer negotiations. And, naturally, such consistency reduces the potential for bias in hiring decisions and promotes equal opportunity for all candidates.

Standardized hiring practices also extend to the vendor management aspect of MSP in staffing. MSPs always hold vendors accountable by establishing clear expectations and performance metrics.

Global Talent Access

MSPs typically have a vast network of staffing suppliers and partners, both locally and internationally, which means that you can tap into talent resources in various countries and regions. Whether it’s sourcing software developers in Eastern Europe, healthcare professionals in Asia, or marketing experts in North America, MSPs have the expertise and connections to find the right candidates.

And, as mentioned above, MSPs are also well-versed in the legal aspects of hiring practices and can navigate the complexities of cross-border employment, including work visas, tax considerations, and compliance with local labor laws.

Improved Time-to-Hire

Finally, MSPs employ advanced technologies, such as applicant tracking systems (ATS) and automated candidate screening tools, to efficiently filter and identify qualified candidates.

They also maintain a comprehensive database of candidates, often including a mix of active job seekers and passive candidates. This allows them to match open positions with potential candidates very quickly, resulting in filling roles faster than traditional recruitment methods would allow.

MSPs are also adept at managing the entire recruitment process with precision, from posting job advertisements to conducting interviews and reference checks. They ensure that each step is executed efficiently, minimizing bottlenecks and delays.

How MSP Staffing Differs from Traditional Staffing

Now let’s look at a range of features that are specific to MSP staffing and traditional staffing, and see how they compare:

MSP Staffing

  • Vendor Neutrality: MSP staffing typically involves the engagement of a neutral third-party provider that manages all aspects of contingent workforce management. This neutrality ensures that staffing suppliers compete on a level playing field, leading to fairer pricing and talent selection.
  • Streamlined Process: MSPs centralize workforce management tasks, including vendor management, onboarding, and performance monitoring. This simplifies administrative burdens and promotes consistency in hiring practices.
  • Scalability: MSPs offer flexibility by enabling organizations to scale their workforce up or down rapidly based on changing business needs, which is crucial for responding to market fluctuations.
  • Compliance Expertise: MSPs specialize in compliance and risk management, helping organizations navigate labor laws and reducing the risk of legal complications.
  • Global Talent Access: MSPs often have extensive global networks, allowing organizations to access talent beyond their geographical boundaries, fostering diversity and innovation.

Traditional Staffing

  • Direct Engagement: In traditional staffing models, organizations engage with staffing agencies or recruiters directly to source and hire temporary or permanent staff – there’s no intermediary MSP involved.
  • Diverse Vendor Relationships: Companies often work with multiple staffing agencies, each specializing in a particular niche or geographic area. This approach provides access to a wide range of candidates but may lead to administrative complexities.
  • Limited Standardization: Hiring processes may vary across different staffing agencies, leading to inconsistencies in candidate evaluation, onboarding, and reporting.
  • Compliance Responsibility: Companies bear primary responsibility for ensuring compliance with labor laws and regulations when using traditional staffing models. This can be challenging, especially in global or complex legal environments.
  • Limited Scalability: Traditional staffing models can be less agile in responding to rapid changes in workforce demands, potentially leading to delays in hiring or over/understaffing.

Selecting the Right MSP for Your Needs

Although there are many great MSP options on the market, you need to approach the MSP vetting process with great care. That’s why in this section we’re presenting you with a checklist to help you make the right choice:

  • Understand Your Goals: Begin by identifying your company’s specific goals and objectives for contingent workforce management. Are you looking to reduce costs, enhance talent quality, improve compliance, or streamline processes? The answers to these questions will guide you forward.
  • Assess Your Workforce Needs: Determine the size, skill sets, and geographic distribution of your contingent workforce. Assess whether your needs are seasonal, project-based, or ongoing.
  • Evaluate Provider’s Expertise: Look for MSPs with expertise in your industry – they will understand your unique talent needs, compliance requirements, and market trends better than others. Also evaluate the MSP’s track record by reviewing case studies, client testimonials, and success stories.
  • Evaluate Provider’s Technology: Ask the candidates which tools they use for candidate tracking, performance monitoring, and reporting. Also inquire about the level of data visibility their technology provides – access to real-time analytics and reporting can empower you with actionable insights.
  • Understand The Pricing: Always seek transparency in cost structures to avoid unexpected charges and invest time in learning all the details of the provider’s pricing model. Also don’t hesitate to ask about their strategies for cost savings and optimization.
  • Learn About Past Successes: Request references from current or past MSP clients who have/had similar workforce needs and contact them to gain insights into their customer experience. In some specific cases, you may want to go a step further and conduct background checks, audits, and legal reviews if necessary.
  • Ensure Clean Paperwork: Clearly define service level agreements that outline performance expectations, response times, and KPIs. Also make sure to carefully review contract terms, termination clauses, and exit strategies – the contract must align with your needs and allow for a smooth transition if necessary.

Challenges and Considerations in MSP Staffing

Like any solution to a business problem, the MSP staffing model is bound to have downsides. Luckily, they are not too many and are easily overshadowed by its benefits. Potential challenges include:

Employee Resistance

Employee resistance can be a significant challenge as current employees may fear job displacement or disruptions to their work routines. To resolve that, make sure to be transparent when addressing employee concerns. Explain the objectives of the MSP, emphasizing that it’s aimed at optimizing workforce management, not reducing jobs.

Also get employees involved in the process – seek their input and feedback, and consider implementing their suggestions when possible. Another good practice is to develop a change management plan that includes training and support for employees as they adapt to new processes.

Loss of Control

One more possible issue is that companies may feel that implementing an MSP means relinquishing control over certain HR functions and staffing processes. You can treat this problem by clearly defining the roles and responsibilities of the MSP – you get to maintain control over critical decision-making processes while allowing the MSP to handle operational tasks.

You can also establish SLAs that outline performance expectations and reporting mechanisms as well as conduct regular reviews and assessments of the MSP’s performance. This will ensure that the MSP delivers services in line with your organization’s goals and standards.

Change Management

Lastly, implementing an MSP involves changes in staffing processes, which may require burdensome training and support for employees and internal HR teams. And while it’s true that MSP services come with additional needs, you can make the process smoother through appointing “change champions” who can promote the benefits of the MSP and provide guidance to their colleagues. Also don’t forget to create clear and accessible documentation that outlines new processes, guidelines, and FAQs.

Implement support mechanisms, such as dedicated help desks or support teams, to assist employees and HR personnel during the transition; and establish feedback channels for the staff to express their concerns, provide suggestions, and report any issues related to the MSP.


In contrast to traditional staffing, MSP staffing offers more flexibility, more assurances and an access to a wider pool of global talent. And the variety of models you can employ, be it a master vendor, a neutral vendor, or a hybrid model, ensures that you’ll be able to find a way for MSP in staffing to work for your business.

Naturally, there are some drawbacks to this approach, such as employee resistance, partial loss of control over key activities and overall changes that may lead to instability. But with the right efforts, these are easily manageable and shouldn’t stop your company from reaching new heights with the help of the MSP staffing model.

Are you ready to achieve new heights in your industry, with the help of MSP staffing? Reach out to Scaled and augment your team with our hard-working, talented engineers.

About the Author: Michael Nelson

Michael Nelson
Michael started his MSP, TLC Tech, in 2004 and has steadily grown and developed the company in the near two decades since. Currently employing 31 employees (including seven from South Africa), he understands the unique challenges faced by MSPs. As a founder of Scaled Inc., Michael works to assist his peers in the MSP world by streamlining the process of adding talent technicians to their teams. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn to discover how Scaled can place technical talent at your MSP.

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