Contingent Workforce Management Practitioners: Why be Thankful for 2016?


I don’t know if gratitude is a common emotion among contingent workforce management (CWM) practitioners — that is, within the context of your business and professional lives. But I wonder if this week you might look back and ask the question, “Why be thankful in 2016?” And I wonder how you would respond.

I can imagine a few potential responses from some of you:

  • Achieved our goals for consolidating suppliers and reducing bill rates
  • Made good progress on expanding our program across the enterprise and globally
  • Organization and c-suite began to recognize that contingent workforce is strategic

I’m sure there a few more that could come off the top of your head. But I’ve got to ask if there could be something else, maybe in the back of your mind.

It seems to me that in 2016 — a year of increasingly tighter talent supply and growing demand — there has been a silver lining. That is the complement of new enabling technologies, corresponding expanded sources of talent and new, efficient ways of making work happen. Having followed these trends over almost five years, I am now concluding that 2016 has been a tipping point year for recognition and adoption within organizations and procurement functions.

On what evidence do I base this assertion? Here are some:

  • Conversations with practitioners and other managers in a range of organizations reflecting recognition, planning and active early adoption
  • The commonality among practitioners of the use of terms like independent workers, platforms, freelancer marketplace, FMS, talent cloud, direct or self-sourcing, crowdsourcing, etc.
  • Clearer practitioner understanding of the cost and performance benefits of new solutions and the ways to mitigate and balance risk
  • Conversations with a range of technology-enabled solution providers whose solutions have been maturing and who can discuss specific enterprise adoption use cases (which are growing)
  • From what was essentially a new landscape of freewheeling open marketplaces five years ago, an ongoing evolution of technology-enabled platform intermediation models that have become increasingly adapted to enterprise use

We at Spend Matters have been extensively covering this space of new technology-enabled solution providers in a range of reports, such as “The Digital Evolution of the Contingent Workforce Supply Chain: What Does It Mean? (Part 1),” “Online Work Intermediation Platforms: The Opportunities and Challenges in Mid-2016 ” and “Self-Sourcing Contingent Workforce: What it is and Why it Matters Now.

If you are not up to speed on our coverage, you can check out all of it right here (no thanks required).

So, will 2016 really turn out to be a tipping point? I think so, but we can’t know for sure until we proceed into 2017. One thing I think is definite, however, is that new, highly efficient, technology-enabled ways of accessing and engaging talent have arrived and are ready for prime-time. This is a real boon for CWM practitioners, who may be hitting constraints on delivery of talent and cost savings. Certainly, this is something to be thankful for--right? Or, at the very least, one should never look a gift horse in the mouth.

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