Fieldglass and Contingent Labor/Services Procurement: Looking Up in 2008

The timing of a recent press release and subsequent coverage in Supply and Demand Chain Executive fit perfectly with a recent get together I had with Fieldglass at their downtown offices in Chicago. While I won't get into the details of the above-linked news, it's clear to me that this is one provider in the market who is poised to continue to grow in 2008, thanks to their ability to not only capture the interest of procurement organizations, but also HR and the actual constituents using contingent labor and services procurement technology in the field.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that services procurement is not a grouping of categories that I'm an expert in. But I'm a fast learner when I'm interested in a topic, and this is clearly an area that I should know more about. Without question, Fieldglass -- along with Chicago neighbor Click/ITW and IQNavigator -- is one of the clear leaders in the space. So who better to kick-off my 2008 contingent labor/services procurement education? In my recent meeting with Fieldglass, a few members of the team had the chance to tell me not only where their own solutions are headed this year, but also some of the broader market trends as well. I'll leave the specifics on Fieldglass solution focus and growth for another post in the coming weeks, but today I'll offer up a quick market backdrop based on our conversation.

To begin, when Fieldglass first entered the market some eight years ago, they saw the contingent labor segment of the services procurement market as an untapped opportunity -- but one that procurement would be the primary driver of inside the typical organizations. However, over time, it's become clear the procurement is not the only key buyer of this type of solution. Rather, HR -- and the MSPs (managed services providers) who Fieldglass is allied with -- are the most likely to articulate and realize the value that such a solution can bring to a company (and their clients, in the case of MSPs).

In part, this has happened because the emphasis has evolved away from just better contingency labor sourcing and requisitioning to the broader concept of managing such relationships throughout a relationship or engagement life cycle. Addressing this broader concept and closing the entire contingent labor and services process loop not only can directly reduce costs -- which typically are not the primary driver of investment decisions -- but can improve the overall level of results an organization achieves from outside services providers. At the same time, organizations realize internal efficiency and productivity gains from automating the contingent labor and services life cycle while at the same time vastly improving and closing the compliance loop.

Today, the value proposition for this market segment is evolving once again. It's shifting away from life cycle management, moving instead to the broader nexus of talent and the enterprise. In other words, what is the best way to procure and oversee talent based on the need to obtain a certain objective? Rather than just manage the tactical side of sourcing, requisitioning, administration and management process, solutions like Fieldglass are becoming more strategic as interest in the overall concept of talent management grows. Should I consider internal resources for a project? Or is a certain assignment better suited to contract resources on a time and materials basis? Or should we look to lock-in and manage consultants or contractors around a project-based approach? Answering and solving these broader questions is the future of the contingent labor and services procurement marketplace.

- Jason Busch

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