Next Generation Services Procurement – Work Intermediation Platforms: Not a VMS, MSP, FMS or Jobs Board


We recently published an introduction to work intermediation platforms (WIPs) on Spend Matters PRO. No, they are not a the darker side of a VMS for those looking to better “control” services procurement spend (thinking along the lines of “Fifty Shade of Grey” or our series “Fifty Shades of Pay” for that matter). Rather, WIPs are something new – even if they don’t require a new services procurement playroom.

In the series, my colleague, Andrew Karpie, defines WIPs as platforms that allow:

  1. “People (for our purposes, people within businesses, i.e., not consumers) who demand or require labor or talent-based services and…
  2. People who make themselves available (for compensation/consideration) to supply labor or expertise/talent-based services…

…to directly engage and get ‘some unit of work’ accomplished within a specifically structured work arrangement (including some form of expressed work contract, payment terms and actual payment, etc.)."

But WIPs are not only marketplaces where buyers and sellers meet to offer and purchase labor-based services or outcomes. Rather, as Andrew observes:

“As platforms, WIPs are usually not just -2-sided’ (i.e., a) and b) sides), but can also be ‘multi-sided’–meaning that WIPS offer the capability to engage other agents that provide complementary (sometimes necessary) services that enable the complete work arrangement transaction. These can be:

  • Labor/talent management-related service providers (such as payment services providers, background or identity check providers, legal compliance assurance providers, et al),
  • Software developers who create apps or specialized processes or features that extend the capabilities/functionality of the platform to enable ‘specific work arrangement use cases’ and other value add-ons, small and large, for different users of the platform.
  • Other technology based platforms or systems, such as AI APIs like IBM Watson, translation capabilities like Google Translate, micro-learning offerings like com (recently acquired by LinkedIn), testing capabilities like Smarterer, et al.”

In this analysis, Andrew explains what WIPs actually are (and are not) and overviews the extraordinary diversity of WIPs in this emerging, highly innovative “digital workforce intermediary” space, citing WIP providers as diverse as UpWorks (eLance-oDesk), Work Market, Onforce, Field Nation,, TWAGO, Workana, Coworks,, 99Designs, Innocentive, MBO PartnersPeopleClick and Crowdflower. This research brief offers an introduction to our ongoing monitoring and tracking, research and analysis of the rapidly growing and mutating WIP space that today exceeds 250 distinct providers.

Spend Matters PRO Subscribers can read Andrew’s full research brief here: Work Intermediation Platforms – Transformation Engines of the Modern Labor Procurement Supply Chain (Part 2 – What Did We Catch?)

We encourage our readers and subscribers to reach out to our team to ask questions of this emerging area as well as to let us know what additional areas of research they would like us to explore. Not yet a PRO subscriber? Reach out to us ( for a free trial.

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