The Services and Indirect Spend Category

Freelancers and Fintech — Follow the Money

Companies’ use of freelancers has become a hot topic of discussion as well as a source of considerable confusion among contingent workforce professionals and other human capital personnel in procurement and HR over the past several years.

It is a chaotic discourse. But there does seem to be something of a consensus that the number of individuals performing some type of at least “part-time” freelance or short gig-work has been materially increasing.

While there has been discussion of various potential drivers of this trend (e.g., business cycle, technology, personal income sufficiency, etc.), less attention has been paid to the state of ICW payments and financial services as a potential driver of ICW supply-side growth. And this is the case, despite that multiple surveys of workers have shown that payments is one of the top problems (along with development of new business and securing health insurance) that is gating ready-and-willing workers’ propensity to engage in part-time or full-time independent contract work.

But despite the lagging attention in the industry, market forces have been at work on solving the problem of payment and financial limitations that may be constraining the growth of part- and full-time independent work being performed. Developments in this particular area have become visible over the last year, as we will discuss in this article.

5 Areas for Services Procurement Professionals to Watch in 2019

platform

As we start off 2019, more procurement professionals may want to be on their toes with respect to the changing contingent workforce and services environment. With that in mind — and recognizing the wicked challenge of making even short-term predictions in this space — we are not offering predictions per se but rather commentary on several broader trends. No promises, no New Year resolutions. Instead, we’d like to point to some areas we will be (and perhaps you should be) watching in 2019. To avoid being caught flat-footed as new developments and opportunities arise, practitioners need to keep their eye on five areas in particular.

TalonFMS: What Makes It Great (Independent Contract Workers SolutionMap Analysis)

Lystable

TalonFMS is a provider of talent management and direct sourcing technology that enables organizations that are looking to source, manage and leverage independent contract workers (ICWs). TalonFMS’s technology solution was recently evaluated in Spend Matters’ SolutionMap framework with the Independent Contract Workers enterprise solution category. The ICW solution segment is the most dynamic part of the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement technology market, which also includes SolutionMap’s Temp Staffing (Vendor Management Systems/VMS) and Contract Services/Statement of Work solution segments.

Unlike solutions for Temp Staffing or Contract Services/SOW, most ICW enterprise solutions have emerged over the past five years within the context of the so-called gig, freelance and peer-to-peer “economies.” While some new providers have developed external platforms like online marketplaces that function effectively as third-party suppliers of talent, others have developed enterprise software solutions that organizations can use to source and manage independent contract talent in ways that VMS, ATS and HRIS systems cannot. TalonFMS falls within this latter category.

TalonFMS provides a fit-for-purpose enterprise software solution that organizations can use to source and organize, gain visibility into and establish control over their external workers they engage as contract independents and not as employees of staffing suppliers. A young company launched in 2015, TalonFMS already covers most of the important ICW management requirements cost-effectively for any size and type of organization, and it boasts the highest client survey score among its peers in the ICW solution category.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: January 2019 (Special Focus Edition on Services) [Plus+]

Welcome to the January 2019 edition of Spend Matters’ monthly feature “The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List,” available to PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments within the CW/S space, where change may be accelerating or at least becoming more pervasive.

This edition also marks the first 12 months of Hot List coverage, launched in the February 2018 inaugural edition (and covering January 2018). Our goal was to show that under the surface of the obtuse, clinical label of “contingent workforce and services” (CW/S) was a hotbed of technologically driven innovation. We sought to set the record straight, perhaps turn a few heads (maybe even provoke a double-take) and possibly prevent some unwary practitioners from getting burned. Hopefully we have fulfilled our promise.

To mark the first anniversary of the Hot List series, this month we will leave the usual format behind and seek a glimpse of the CW/S elephant in the room: complex services spend.

The real features of this spend category have (strangely enough) been obscured in the shadow cast by contingent workforce. And while there has been lots of talk about SOW spend in the CW/S world, in reality, that’s been a little bit like lighting a match in the dark to survey the full enormity of the elephant (possibly only seeing a foot or a tusk).

With that, we will now begin our safari, turn our searchlight toward the relatively unexplored territory of services spend and wrestle with questions like: What is it? How is it being addressed in different sectors? Is there a pattern emerging that may mean more and more effective ways for businesses to source and manage complex services?

Field Nation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview [PRO]

SciQuest

Across the growing landscape of digital intermediation platforms for contingent workforce and services, practically no two platforms are entirely alike in terms of market focus, function, capabilities, solution offerings, etc. For the last five years, variety has been the spice of life in this space — and it will likely continue to be.

Within this diverse population, one can find providers of external online marketplaces, providers of enterprise (FMS-like) solutions to manage independent workforce, or providers of both.

Field Nation occupies this last category as a digital platform that, today, enables companies/managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of technical field services contractors, services providers and, recently, employees. Field Nation aims to address other categories of on-site work in the future.

Part 1 of this Vendor Snapshot series provides company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit for when organizations should consider Field Nation. Parts 2 and 3 will dive into product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Vndly: What Makes It Great (Temp Staffing/VMS SolutionMap Analysis)

Founded in 2017, Vndly is a new entrant in the evolving contingent workforce and services (CW/S) enterprise technology solution market. While new entrants have appeared with solutions to address the emergence of the freelancer or gig economy, not one has gone after the temporary staffing and SOW solution segments, which have been the exclusive domain of what were long referred to as vendor management system (VMS) providers. Vndly intends to challenge top VMS solutions in all three of these spend categories on the basis of its new technology, its reassessment of organizations’ core needs, and its innovative approaches to old and new requirements. Let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark to find out where Vndly is great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.

Addressing CSR and Sustainability Goals Through Improved Indirect Spend Management (Part 1): Background and Challenges

The list of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability risks in the physical supply chain is long. When securing direct materials, procurement organizations must assess factors from restricted or hazardous substances to the kind of labor that went into raw material extraction and even political restrictions like sanctions on whether companies from certain countries are even allowed to do business with you. Because of these and numerous other potential issues, many companies have begun to focus on identifying and eliminating such risks from their supply chains with the help of third-party CSR data sources and risk-monitoring platforms. But while the value of assessing CSR risks for direct materials spend has gained prominence in recent years, the other side of the procurement coin, indirect spend, has not received nearly as much interest. That’s a shame — and a risk in itself.

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The Case for a Freelance Workforce in 7 Stats

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4 Seismic Events for Contingent Workforce/Services in 2018 — A Whole Lotta Shaking Going On

Japan earthquakes

Based on my discussions with people in the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) industry in the past months, it seems that many are thinking that 2018 was a year in which, relative to past years, something quite different was happening. But it was hard to put one’s finger on it. Perhaps it was a year when new technology became more of an exciting opportunity to better serve clients and talent and less as something to fear or be cynical about? Or a year when the industry embraced innovation and change more than it resisted it? Maybe even a year that would mark when a seismic shift in “industry structure” began?

This post provides an overview of four potentially seismic developments in the CW/S technology-based solution space, with references to corresponding 2018 Spend Matters research coverage. Armed with all this information and a sprinkle of analyst commentary, we will leave it to you to form your own perspective about the movers and the shakers in 2018.

Manufacturing Skills Shortage Creates Challenges, Opportunities for Digital Transformation

Toyota supply chain

Manufacturing has a shortage of skilled workers, and year by year it is expected to grow to about 2.2 million unfilled jobs over the next decade, according to a study that has been tracking the gap for almost two decades. The shortfall in workers who can handle the technical nature of manufacturing and its digital transformation could cost the U.S. economy $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years, says the 2018 study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute. As one manufacturing executive said in the study, “With the positive turn in the economy, we don’t have enough job candidates with the right skills and work ethic to fill our openings, and this is making it difficult for us to accept the orders our vendors are asking us to complete.” Find out how companies are trying to bridge the gap.

Sourcing and Engaging the Independent/Freelance Workforce — An Emerging Ecosystem? (Part 1) [PRO]

Coworks

It’s time for a Spend Matters PRO series to catch up on what happened to the gap that we identified several years ago between enterprise managers and independent/freelance workers.

In November 2015, we pointed out a barely noticed “white space” between the enterprise demand for independent/freelance workforce* and the supply of those workers. By that we meant that while enterprises, with the support of VMS technology and often MSPs, were able to source and manage contingent workforce from staffing suppliers and contracted services providers, they generally lacked the capabilities to systematically source and manage independent/freelance workers.

We also observed the emergence of FMS, the freelancer management system, at that time, but we were clear that it was just “a part of a much larger set of developments, encompassing a range of new —  and incumbent — solution and service providers that increasingly leverage advanced technology, digitized information and innovative approaches to sourcing and managing independent/freelance workers.” We further asserted that the independent/freelancer workforce white space would start filling with various providers of solutions and service providers.

We also speculated that — due to state-of-the-art cloud stack, APIs, services architecture and other technology that would be underlying their solutions — these providers would start to become components of a comprehensive digitally enabled and digitally connected ecosystem. By that we meant an ecosystem (and nested ecosystems) that could evolve and be reconfigured more rapidly to serve the unique needs and preferences of different enterprises and, just as importantly, the unmet preferences and needs of the independent/freelance workers whom enterprises would engage in many new ways (some previously not possible).

Now, three years later, we can ask what has actually happened and to what extent the white space between enterprise managers and independent/freelance workers has been filled to:

— Provide enterprises with the required capabilities to source, manage and maximize the value of this independent/freelance population.
— Provide independent/freelance workers with the access to the opportunity pathways and the support/services they require to function as viable “operators.”

In Part 1 of this PRO series, we assess the current state of the independent/freelancer workforce and whether it is overhyped. In Parts 2 and 3, we will focus on the extent to which digitally enabled sourcing channels and work intermediation platforms have effectively bridged the gaps. In other words, to what extent has the white space been filled? And what is the current state of the digitally enabled ecosystem?

Q4 2018 SolutionMap Release Notes: Contingent Workforce & Services (CW/S) Enterprise Technology Solutions — Temp Staffing, Contract Services/Statement of Work (SOW), Independent Contract Workers (ICW)

Q4 2018 marks the second research cycle for Spend Matters’ Contingent Workforce & Services (CW/S) “enterprise technology” SolutionMap, the sourcing and management of three underlying spend categories: Temp Staffing, Contract Services/Statement of Work and Independent Contract Workers (ICW).

The providers in the Q4 2018 CW/S SolutionMap include Beeline, Coupa-DCR Workforce, Field Nation, Shortlist, SirionLabs, TalentNet, Talmix, TalonFMS, Upwork Enterprise, Vndly and WorkMarket (ADP).

Given Spend Matters’ procurement orientation, we evaluate “enterprise technology” vendors within a source-to-pay (S2P) reference model. In other words, we look at vendors in terms of their capabilities that address some or all enterprise requirements that arise within an S2P lifecycle (i.e., from supplier sourcing to worker or supplier payment).

In this second CW/S research cycle, there was again limited participation in the Temp Staffing and Contract Services/SOW SolutionMap categories. However, a good number of key vendors have expressed interest in participating in upcoming cycles.

There continues to be vibrant interest in participation by vendors in the emergent Independent Contract Workers (ICW) SolutionMap category. There are two new participants, Shortlist and Talmix, in Q4, and there are several other vendors interested in participating in upcoming cycles.

We have gathered extensive business profile information, received well over 30 client reference surveys and have assigned scores to specific solution capabilities (RFI line items) ranging from well over 100 to about 300, depending upon how many SolutionMap categories a particular vendor participated in.