VMS or Vendor Managment Software systems are software platforms that large companies use to manage the workflows of their contingent (temp) worker programs. It is a software interface between the client companies and their staffing agencies that automates what used to be a manual process. It replaces the manual system where managers called or emailed their staffing agency's account manager or recruiter to tell them what they are looking for and getting submissions of candidates via email. Most Fortune 500 companies (50-60%) now use an outsourced provider called a Managed Service Provider or MSP to run their VMS systems to manage their hiring of temp and contingent workers.
When a company uses a VMS, when a staffing company calls a job seeker and says they are going to submit their resume to a client for an open position, they don't send it directly to a hiring manager, they submit it into a VMS system against a specific open position. Other preferred staffing vendors of that company will also submit two or three candidates for the same position. This staffing directory shows you an example of what the preferred vendor list for a company (in this case Google) may look like. To avoid duplicate submissions where the same candidate is submitted by multiple agencies, most staffing agencies will often ask job seekers for a 'Right to Represent' email in which the candidate acknowledges that a job seeker will work with only that agency for that specific position number at that client.
The client company's manager then shortlists candidates by looking at the submitted resumes against their open position and decides who to interview, shortlist and then hire. This information is transmitted through the VMS system and makes it more efficient for the client and the staffing agency. The client can quickly browse all the candidates and staffing agency can see what's happening against every position without having to followup with the Manager. If a Manager is slacking, the company can follow up and put the position on hold or close it and the staffing agency can stop working on that position. Its also an easy way for the company to get data on which of their vendors is performing well.
Most companies that use VMS systems also typically employ a MSP or Managed Service Provider who manages the staffing agencies in the program so the client doesn't need to deal with multiple staffing agencies. To learn more about MSP and VMSs, read our primer on MSPs and VMSs.
Here is a list of the top rated and most popular VMSs and some of the client companies who use them