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Time For a Vendor Change? Here Are Some Considerations

Magnifying glass focused on check mark. Screening vendor selection concept.

Whether prompted by regulation, curiosity, discontent, or a combination, the average organization will begin seeking new screening vendor options every three years or so. However, this process can be complex and disruptive, especially for larger organizations with unique needs. Making a screening vendor switch is rarely as straightforward as anticipated.

From what we have gathered over many years as a full-service screening provider, the following are the most common reasons for a change (in order):

  1. Poor customer service
  2. Inability to provide all solutions that are needed
  3. Turnaround time concerns
  4. HR system compatibility
  5. HR personnel change
  6. Price
  7. A high number of disputes
  8. Mandated vendor search

If you are debating a vendor change or are in a selection process, we invite you to consider the following before solidifying your decision.

Questions for Your Department to Consider:

Is There a Measurable Need?

The first question any HR generalist, manager, or director should ask themselves before embarking on a vendor search is, “Why are we doing this?”

It may sound silly, but there are times when changes are made for the sake of making changes. This should not be the motivation behind a screening vendor change. There is too much nuance and too many legalities surrounding the process for an unnecessary upheaval of order.

We would encourage every new vendor search to begin with a definable, measurable pain, perhaps multiple– such as those listed above.

Are Your Needs Defined?

Do you have metrics or SLAs you would like your screening vendor to adhere to? What are your customer service standards? What is your total all-in screening budget (fees included)? Do you require in-depth screening solutions such as DOT, occupational health, random/onsite drug testing, or fingerprinting services? What are your specific technology needs?

Knowing the answers to these questions (and more) is a prerequisite to finding a fitting screening partner. Have your needs clearly outlined and defined for a smoother, more effective outcome.

How Is Communication With Your Current Vendor?

While some concerns/differences can be irreconcilable, such as those concerning compliance and customer service, some problems can be resolved with a current vendor after a bit of communication. 

For example, we have encountered many companies frustrated with their screening vendor’s inability to accommodate a technology need when we knew they were duly capable. A simple conversation was not had, and addressable grievances were not aired, leading to a potentially avoidable expenditure of time and resources. While this is not always the case, patience and communication can sometimes resolve seemingly significant issues with one’s current vendor.

While this is typically the exception to the norm, good communication almost always does more good than harm.

Are You Certain Current Woes Won’t Be Universally Encountered?

In 2023, we received several calls directed to our sales team with frustrated hiring managers on the line. Their particular issue concerned criminal background screening turnaround times in Michigan. Extended delays drove them to a new vendor search.

The reality at the time was that Michigan was facing court record overhauls, as new legislation had affected its processes for several weeks. Thus, the court delays and turnaround time issues were inherent to the situation and experienced by all CRAs. In those instances, the problem likely wasn’t the organization’s employment screening vendor but rather the circumstances encountered by the Michigan court system.

While vendor communication amidst these circumstances must not have been terribly effective (or existent), the confusion and frustration were essentially a misunderstanding. In short, further inquiry or investigation may be warranted before initiating a new vendor search due to a single grievance or circumstance.

What Are the Resources Required to Make a Change?

Of course, time, money, and energy should be preserved as much as possible.

Depending on your organization’s size and complexity, a change in any process or system may be extremely taxing to many departments and costly to the company.

Before deciding to explore options, particularly when an extensive RFP process is involved, it is only fair to engage vendors in the process if there is a legitimate desire and willingness to make a change. These are things that should be considered and weighed long before demos are booked, responses are solicited, and pricing is received.

Is Your Vendor Selection Process Effective?

If you are going out for an RFP, are the questions representative of what you want to know, or are they just duplications of RFPs dating back decades? Here are some tips on composing an effective employment screening RFP.

If technology is crucial to your processes, are you conducting in-depth demos with each of the providers you’re evaluating?

If customer service is of great concern, have you inquired about a service trial?

Selecting the best vendor for your needs often requires more than a surface-level understanding of their processes and pricing. For this reason, we recommend quickly narrowing the search to three or so vendors and exploring in more depth and detail with each finalist.


While three years is the average time with a screening vendor before a search is at the forefront of the mind, the goal is a long-lasting partnership that provides mutual value. This goal can only be achieved through careful consideration, communication, and clearly defined goals and expectations.

If your current provider is adding weight instead of easing the load, it is time to start evaluating options. However, doing so with careful consideration and communication can make the process much more effective and less disruptive to you and your team.

We hope you found this article helpful. Feel free to contact us with any background screening questions.

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