For well over a decade, consultancies, business process outsourcing (BPO) firms, managed services providers (MSPs) and other services firms in the procurement ecosystem have tried to develop procurement technology solutions that can stand on their own. Just about all of these early efforts were either failures or just never could be properly sustained and supported as standalone software products (i.e., something beyond a captive internal tool like spend analysis used as part of service engagements or pre-sales diagnostics). Examples include AT Kearney, FreeMarkets, Mitchell Madison and Silver Oak Services Partners. It was easy to recognize the inherent conflict between the billable hour (and solution objectivity) and the investment and expertise to run a software business. But the times have changed for services firms. Not only are some firms developing solutions that can compete on the basic feature and function software level, but the solutions now don’t necessarily walk out the door when the consultants wrap up an engagement. Rather, they are retained in areas such as sourcing, analytics, services procurement, supplier management and even procure to pay (P2P). This two-part Spend Matters PRO research brief explores what has changed to enable this, where and how services-centered firms are building applications (and in certain cases, managed services that involve software) and some of the challenges that firms still face in commercializing their technology efforts — and tips for overcoming them. It also highlights three examples of services providers that developed innovative procurement technology solutions in different areas, either within their current structure or inside new organizations run or owned by the same principals.
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Today, we discuss Upwork and where it is right now, specifically its unique solution for enterprises, Upwork Enterprise. If there is any one company that is more emblematic of this still emerging and very heterogeneous independent workforce solution space — characterized by uncertain labels like online freelancer marketplace (OFM), online staffing, freelancer management system (FMS), on-demand, gig economy, talent-as-a-service, etc. — it would be Upwork, the company resulting from the merger of OFM giants Elance and oDesk. Upwork distinguishes itself not just by its size but also because it is the only one of these global freelance marketplace platforms that has been investing substantially in engaging with larger enterprises as a part of their established contingent workforce management programs.
ZeroChaos, a leading innovator in the contingent workforce services/solution space, has launched a new technology-based talent sourcing/engagement solution called Global Talent Cloud. We recently reviewed the Private Talent Cloud solution at a high-level, noting that the introduction of leading-edge sourcing technology and processes further differentiates ZeroChaos from the pack of conventional MSPs and VMSs. Now, in this brief, as we take a deeper and broader look at this new solution, we discover that there is much more than meets the eye. The relevance here for services/contingent workforce procurement goes beyond just the ZeroChaos solution. It is another data point that shows that the contingent workforce supply chain — and how workers are sourced and engaged — is changing, perhaps at an accelerating rate.
Last Chance to Register for Tomorrow’s Webinar and Learn VMS, Services Procurement Technology Best Practices
This is your last chance to register for tomorrow's webinar, VMS and Services Procurement Technology Selection in 2015 – New Tools, Shifting Strategies, False Prophets and More! Join us at 1 p.m. CDT as Jason Busch and Andrew Karpie, our resident services procurement experts, explain how VMS technology has changed drastically in recent months and recommend best practices for adopting a solution. This is an absolute must-attend for procurement professionals and other business managers. If you are considering implementing a VMS or other services procurement technology solution, (e.g., a freelancer management system) then this is the event for you. Register now!
Time is running out! Register today to attend our webinar Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. CDT: VMS and Services Procurement Technology Selection in 2015 – New Tools, Shifting Strategies, False Prophets and More!
VMS and Services Procurement Technology Selection in 2015 — New Tools, Shifting Strategies, False Prophets and More!
Vendor management system (VMS) technology has changed. And so too has the broader ecosystem of services procurement solutions. Yet the risk of being led astray by advisors who have not fully done their homework on the current VMS market or your organization’s needs is higher than ever (trust us — we’ll explain). Register for our webinar next Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. CDT: VMS and Services Procurement Technology Selection in 2015 — New Tools, Shifting Strategies, False Prophets and More!
In Part 1 of this two-part series, we suggested that while organizations are facing long-term shortages of software development talent, there may be a way to gain access to this talent from a growing number of online work intermediation platforms (WIPs) that would effectively function like suppliers of contingent workforce. And, while these digital-platform-based suppliers may present buyers with a new means to access much-needed software development talent and services and reduce cost, there are significant challenges and chasms standing between exploiting those opportunities and where we are today. Here we will discuss some of these very chasms and challenges that lie before us and make some suggestions of the first steps to start taking and what the road ahead might look like.
Join us Tuesday, Nov. 3 at 1 p.m. CDT for the webinar, Choosing a VMS: How to Maximize the Process and Limit the Stress, with Beeline. A contingent workforce management program lacking the right VMS is kind of like a haunted house: an empty, scary place where almost anything can happen. Fortunately, whether they are already users of a VMS or “first time buyers," procurement professionals and their businesses are fully prepared and competent to exorcise their demons and select their next VMS. Right? Not necessarily...
We have seen significant growth in the services procurement area this year. Back in March, we identified this growth, with Jason Busch calling attention to the new expectations, technologies and responsibilities around services and managing services within a business. He tackled this topic in a popular webinar: Ask the Expert: Next Generation Services Procurement and VMS Technology. Check out the full webinar in this post.
We seem to live in a time of buzzword proliferation — on-demand, whatever as a service — where each buzzword requires disambiguation in the different contexts it is used. Is servitization a buzzword? The simple answer is no. And the overall trend of increasing servitization among goods/asset manufacturers is, or should be, important for procurement. Servitization, as we will discuss, implies that increasingly bundled products and services will be procured and consumed by businesses, perhaps stretching the boundaries of procurement practices and technology solutions. But what is servitization all about? We dig into this topic in this Plus post.
What is Services Procurement? [Plus +]
The question “What is services procurement?” may seem like a dumb question to many. But we would argue that it is an important question for the procurement community to ask itself. However, in this process, another set of questions arises: Is the current state of affairs adequate/acceptable, or should procurement be striving to bring the broad concept of services under a unified perspective? What would be the reasons for doing so? What would be involved? This Plus post aims to tackle all these questions and provide insight into the services procurement world.
New Practices Needed: What Digital Transformation Means for Contingent Workforce Procurement – Part 3 [Plus +]
In Part 1 of this three-part series, we asserted that contingent workforce management is on a collision course with digital transformation. We discussed what digital transformation is and some ways it will likely affect contingent workforce management as it is practiced at most businesses today. In Part 2, we started to explain the kinds of changes and challenges that will be encountered in contingent workforce procurement, focusing on the three specific areas. Today, to wrap up this Spend Matters Plus series, we focus on and explain the changes and challenges that will arise in the areas of technology and procurement practices and capabilities.