How Procurement Can Participate in Platform Sourcing Initiatives: There Are More Ways Than One (Part 1) [PRO]

Today, most contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement practitioners have some awareness of — or even some level of interest in — online work/service platforms (e.g., online freelancer marketplaces, contest/challenge crowd platforms, digital direct sourcing solutions). While the integration of these platforms into enterprise systems and processes is still a work in progress, many expect that they will increasingly become an important set of sourcing options in the years to come.

CW/S procurement, though typically time and resource constrained, cannot ignore or rationalize away these developments. On the contrary, the enterprise requires procurement’s involvement and contributions to pursue these new options successfully. But the question of how, when, where and to what extent procurement can or should participate in these new developments can be vexing questions. No doubt, some long-standing assumptions, philosophies and approaches to CW/S procurement may not align with these new sourcing options and opportunities, and adjustments will thus be required. It will also be necessary for procurement to learn about a whole new area of platform-based sourcing and a new landscape of platform suppliers.

In this two-part PRO series, we provide a focus, framework and suggestions to assist CW/S procurement organizations in understanding various options and opportunities for participating in online work and services platform developments/initiatives in their respective enterprises. In Part 1, we focus on (a) how the procurement approach to platform sourcing is different from typical contingent workforce program management and (b) what participation options (roles/orientations) are available to procurement organizations depending upon their state of maturity and resource availability. In Part 2, we discuss a range of procurement functional disciplines that are, with appropriate modification, highly applicable in platform sourcing scenarios. In addition to indicating where procurement can concretely contribute expertise, we also discuss how procurement’s role may change overtime. And, finally, we provide a set of key takeaways from this series.

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