The Services and Indirect Category

Afternoon Coffee: Freelance Platform Fiverr Acquires ClearVoice; Sears Plans Smaller Stores, Less Apparel

Eddie Lampert’s winning bankruptcy bid for Sears is taking shape, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that his plan to save the ailing retailer includes opening smaller stores and reducing the focus on selling apparel. And Fiverr, the fast-growing online platform that connects businesses and freelancers who specialize in digital creative services, announced Wednesday that it had acquired the content marketing platform ClearVoice. Afternoon Coffee brings you the latest in procurement and supply chain news.

Independent Workforce and Online Platforms —  What’s a Services Procurement Practitioner to Do?

In 2019, services procurement practitioners in mid- to large-sized enterprises most likely have some awareness of — or even some level of interest in — independent contract workforce (ICW) and online work/service platforms (e.g., online freelancer marketplaces, contest/challenge crowd platforms, digital direct sourcing solutions). But for the most part, the new opportunities presented by platforms to source and engage ICWs are viewed as having an uncertain ROI, not being ready for prime time — or worse. Andrew Karpie, Spend Matters' research director of services and labor procurement, says it's worth your time and has some advice.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: February 2019 [Plus+]

Welcome to the February 2019 edition of Spend Matters’ monthly Hot List, a look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) that’s 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 in the CW/S space.

Perhaps overcome by the polar vortex, for many, January turned out to have been a frigid month. But the CW/S space continued to percolate, with a number of developments and changes and a few new third-party reports that offered insights into various aspects of this evolving space.

Technology, Talent Strategy Needed for Business Growth, Study Says

Advancements in technology are changing nearly everything about the way people work across various industries, and a new report highlights how this transformation also pertains to the inner workings of talent acquisition. During the past few years, the way employers source, screen and hire new talent has changed vastly, and experts say this change is for the better. Business leaders’ concerns about the global economy are causing organizations to regard talent as the key to value creation, according to the 2019 Talent Trends report from Randstad Sourceright.

Are Organizations Using More of the Independent Workforce? [PRO]

talent management

Several years into the gig economy hype cycle, much has happened and many questions remain unanswered (the least of which is: “What are we talking about?”). A handful of survey-based studies — using different population definitions, methodologies and time intervals, — have focused on the population of people in the U.S. engaging in some kind of full- or part-time alternative work arrangement, temp work, freelancing and/or independent contract work. The result, not surprisingly, has been widely varying estimates of population size and rate of change.

But trying to answer questions about the independent workforce population may be missing the point. A more relevant and important set of questions for procurement and HR practitioners in organizations may be: Have organizations been sourcing and engaging more workers in non-traditional work arrangements? Why or why not? And so on. To get at some of these questions, we have surveyed a panel of executives of contingent workforce technology solution and service providers and analyzed the results.

Field Nation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Summary and Competitive Analysis [PRO]

Field Nation — as discussed in this Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot Part 1 and Part 2 — provides an online marketplace and an enterprise solution that enables companies and their managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of IT field services contractors, services providers and even their own company employees. Today, Field Nation still largely plays in the narrow/niche of online marketplace/work execution solution segment of IT field contractors/providers (what might be considered a niche, duopoly market where it competes against WorkMarket, now an ADP company). But it has recently launched its broader, enterprise-level Field Nation ONE solution, which implies a considerably wider competitive context. If one expands the potential market to include larger, enterprise-level field service management (“FSM”) solutions (or further, to address other on-demand, on-site project work categories), the addressable market would be much larger and the industry competitive landscape and dynamics would be significantly different.

Part 1 provided a company and detailed solution overview, as well as a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering Field Nation. Part 2 discussed Spend Matters’ perspective on solution strengths and weaknesses along with a rating of UI/UX for firms considering solution options. In our third and final installment, we provide a SWOT overview of Field Nation as a whole, a high-level, comparative competitive analysis, key fit criteria and, lastly, brief commentary and suggestions for organizations that might consider Field Nation as a potential solution partner.

Field Nation: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses [PRO]

In the first of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Field Nation, a digital platform that enables companies and their managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of technical field services contractors, services providers and, recently, employees.

For a number of years, Field Nation has been providing what was basically a many-to-many online spot-buy marketplace. But last year, the company launched an enterprise-level, blended-workforce sourcing and management platform solution called Field Nation ONE, and that is the focus of this product evaluation.

Among other enterprise technology solutions that address independent contract workers (ICWs) and are featured in the Spend Matters ICW SolutionMap, Field Nation ONE stands out with laser-like focus in the field services vertical and its integrated proprietary marketplace of roughly 15,000 field service contractors in the U.S. and Canada. But while Field Nation ONE is an enterprise, S2P solution addressing the ICW work category, it is nonetheless a specialized one and needs to be evaluated on that basis. It also bears noting that Field Nation ONE is at the very beginning of its product maturity curve.

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series provided company background and a detailed solution overview, plus a set of solution-fit considerations. In Part 2, we now cover what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of the solution as well as a rating of UI/UX. Part 3 will provide competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

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.

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.