The Services Procurement & Contingent Labor Category

New Study Dissects Organizations’ Ongoing and Future Use of Contingent Workforce

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Brandon Hall Group’s recently released “2017 Contingent Workforce Study” provides probing insights into organizations’ increasing use of contingent workforce. The study survey yielded a sample of “200 usable responses from the United States and Canada (75%) and 22 other countries and 30 industries,” according to a press release. The sample consisted of organizations of different size categories (60% under 1,000 employees, 38% between 1,000–9,999 employees and 44% at more than 10,000). Here, we highlight and comment on some of the key, publicly available findings that will be of interest to Spend Matters readers.

Contractor Insurance Innovator Bunker Raises $6M in Series A Round

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Bunker, a San Francisco-based “digital business insurance platform” startup, announced a $6 million Series A funding round in addition to the full commercial launch of its services platform. The round was led by Omidyar Network and included Comcast Ventures and Route 66 Ventures. Bunker raised $2 million of seed funding less than a year ago. Bunker, founded in 2015 to deliver an entirely new small business insurance buying experience, is a licensed insurance broker in all 50 states and works closely leading insurance carriers in building new and unique products, according to the press release.

ZeroChaos: Vendor Snapshot (Part 3) — Competitive & Summary Analysis [PRO]

In the contingent workforce and services procurement market, the role of managed services providers (MSPs) is evolving. What used to be a binary decision between “in-source” or “outsource” the management of contingent spending is now a much more complex one. Within the MSP universe in 2017, there is now a slowly increasing emphasis on embracing the services procurement need outside of contingent workforce management and enablement alone (i.e., moving beyond the comfort zone and typical biases towards staffing-based models).

This includes the full consideration of curated talent pools, independent contractors/freelancers, broader services spend/category enablement (MSA/SOW sourcing/management, category management, etc.) and the evolving role of technology to support different requirements.

Given the variance of capability of MSPs to address these broader areas — without even factoring into account whether they have proprietary technology or not — the decision on which firm(s) to work with should be given more consideration than in the past. Specialized MSPs like ZeroChaos may stand to benefit from these shifts, especially as decision criteria against an often expanded set of requirements becomes more granular and moves beyond contingent labor alone.

This final installment of our multipart Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot series covering ZeroChaos offers a SWOT analysis, competitive assessment and comparison with other procurement technology providers in the MSP and services procurement market. It also includes a user selection guide and summary evaluation and selection considerations. Part 1 and Part 2 of this PRO research series provide a company and deep-dive solution overview, product strengths and weaknesses and a recommended fit analysis for what types of organizations should consider ZeroChaos.

ZeroChaos: Vendor Snapshot (Part 2) — Product Strengths & Weaknesses [PRO]

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On the surface, ZeroChaos appears to be a seasoned managed services provider (MSP). It is best known for working with Global 2000 firms in outsourcing the management of contingent labor spend in a truly neutral fashion. In this manner, there is no potential for conflict of interest, since it has does not have a parent company that also owns staffing assets.

But dig a layer or two deeper and ZeroChaos begins to look different than many of its peers. It brings a lean operating environment to support back office operations, a proprietary VMS capability, a top-notch supplier management managed service and expertise supporting broader services procurement initiatives and specialized client needs that fall outside a typical MSP. While not without areas for opportunities, ZeroChaos is a differentiated MSP operating in a world where many of its competitors are more fungible.

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Snapshot explores ZeroChaos’ solution strengths and weaknesses as a managed services provider, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide whether they should consider the firm to support the procurement of contingent workforce spend and broader services procurement categories. Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and detailed solution overview and a recommend fit list of criteria for firms considering ZeroChaos. The third part of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

DCR Workforce Provides an Entry Ramp for Mid-Sized Organizations with Smart Track NOW

For some time now, we have held DCR Workforce in high regard as a VMS solution provider that punches above its weight, especially in terms of services procurement capabilities, technology and innovation. (For more details on DCR, see Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of our PRO Vendor Snapshot.)

It is perhaps not surprising to us, then, that earlier this spring DCR quietly rolled out capabilities to enable mid-sized organization to access the full depth and breadth of its Smart Track VMS solutions. The new offering, Smart Track Now, puts DCR on the map as the second mainstream VMS provider to bring to market capabilities targeting the middle market, the first provider being SAP Fieldglass in December 2016. With the penetration curve for VMS at large enterprises flattening, the middle market appears to be worth trying.

We recently had the opportunity to discuss, and receive a demo of, Smart Track NOW. What follows is an overview of what we learned.

Beeline: Convergence, Balance and Client-Centric Innovation [PRO]

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This PRO brief, based on Spend Matters’ information gathering at the recent Beeline+IQN Customer Conference, provides an update on the new combined business called Beeline. We have covered details of the merger previously (see: GTCR Acquires Beeline From Adecco -- Merges VMS Firm with IQNavigator; Beeline, IQNavigator & GTCR: Transaction/Valuation Analysis, Future Product/Technology Considerations and SWOT Analysis; and Merging Beeline and IQNavigator: Customer, Prospect and Partner (MSP) Recommendations).

Our interpretation of what Beeline shared at the event suggests three key themes for where the provider is headed: convergence, balance and client-centric innovation. In this analysis, we share insight into these three areas, as well as provide an outlook for Beeline in what is perhaps the most dynamic and fast-moving procurement and HR market segment today.

The Future of Work, Yesterday: Reflections from the Beeline/IQN Customer Conference

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The first day’s sessions at the Beeline/IQN customer conference wrapped up with a panel discussion entitled “The Future of Work Starts Now.” The panel, moderated by Brian Hoffmeyer of Beeline, consisted of 5 solid industry experts: Steve Dern (Geometric Results), Chris Dwyer (Ardent Partners), Bryan Pena (Staffing Industry Analysts), Matt Pierce (Hired) and Jennifer Torres (Pontoon). In his introduction, Hoffmeyer, citing the inaccuracy of some predictions from a well-known film made decades ago, provided ample caution to the audience that what was about to be discussed should best be thought of as a kind of stretching exercise for the mind.

Beeline/IQNavigator Customer Conference Dispatch: Catching up With Doug Leeby

I’ve long respected Doug Leeby, Beeline’s CEO for over a decade. Many would agree that the company he has fostered cares deeply about people, customers and culture — perhaps more so than any other technology vendor in the procurement solutions space. But in a post-merger situation, not a day goes by where you’re not tossed into unfamiliar territory. I had a few minutes to spend with Doug Tuesday in a quiet corner during a whirlwind day at Beeline’s customer conference, where he now oversees two separate VMS solutions and a customer base twice the size of last year. Below are a few snippets from our conversation.

Beeline/IQNavigator Customer Conference: Beyond SOA with Microservices

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Sometimes the underlying technical and integration approaches to building applications are important to understand even for business users who never get into code. But unfortunately, the pace of change these days in the development world is outpacing even analysts (like us) that cover business applications. From historic approaches like BPM frameworks to modern low code environments, options abound to speed development enhancements, interoperability and integration. One of these approaches that Beeline and IQNavigator shared at their customer conference today is based on microservices frameworks.

Beeline/IQNavigator Customer Conference: 2 VMS Platforms, 1 Company

Andrew Karpie, Kendra Cato and I dropped into Orlando Tuesday for the Beeline/IQNavigator customer conference. The event is of more importance to the provider than usual — as customer conferences go — given it marks the first combined event for what were previously the No. 2 and No. 3 VMS providers by volume. There are roughly 350 people in attendance, which makes it one of the largest conferences in the contingent workforce and services provider universe, with 100 companies represented.

A User’s Guide to the Gig Economy for Procurement Practitioners [PRO]

The gig economy has been talked about so endlessly that the term has become nearly meaningless. Yet contingent workforce and services procurement practitioners know there is something going on beyond the buzzwords, something that is beginning to matter to the work they do. It is difficult, however, for many practitioners to distinguish what is essential and of importance in the context of their procurement goals. To aid in that effort, this PRO brief explores how practitioners can make the gig economy work for them.

So You Want to Go Into Procurement Consulting: 3 Areas to Consider

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As curious human beings with varying levels of self-doubt, we’re all a bit taken with “expert” advice. If I see an article about losing weight or getting rich, I’m reading it. Now, I may not qualify as an expert, but fellow procurement and sourcing professionals often ask me for advice on moving from the corporate world to freelancing. Looking back, I can admit that my thought process was probably not as thorough as it could have been. So, in the same vein as lists of what doctors tell their own friends about common ailments, here are three things to know as you determine whether freelancing is for you.