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ADP’s Acquisition of WorkMarket: Just Moving Pieces Around on the Board or Starting a Whole New Game? (Part 2) [PRO]

ADP is a top player in the employee payroll, benefits, tax and compliance, PEO and core HR software markets, where customer (buyer) profiles are conservative and tend to favor scale, efficiency and established brands. For years, ADP and its peers have served and competed in these markets, and almost as if in parallel universes, a distinct population of solution providers (ranging from Adecco to SAP Fieldglass) have served and competed in separate contingent workforce technology and services markets. But while the contingent workforce sector has many things in common with the human resource sector, there is one increasingly important deviation — and it starts with “g” (as in “gig”).

The freelancer and independent contractor management market segment — the contingent workforce solution segment home to WorkMarket — is about as different a solution market as one could imagine compared to both classic HR and staffing-based labor models. It is blossoming, dynamic and high growth, as well as fraught with disruptive dynamics, unsolved problems and evolving regulatory dilemmas. So, we ask, perhaps part tongue in cheek, “What the heck is ADP doing buying WorkMarket?”

Yes, WorkMarket: the first-to-market, leading-edge, “gigish” technology solution that has been enabling businesses to (a) compliantly pay and administer essentially any type of external, independent worker (b) digitally profile these contractor workers and employees of the organization in labor clouds and (c) allow an organization’s business managers to directly source and deploy those workers into projects and programs.

This Spend Matters PRO series attempts to answer this question, not only by looking at WorkMarket — a provider we have profiled and analyzed in past Spend Matters coverage (see here, here and here) — in a brand new context but also exploring ADP’s rationale to acquire and embed this capability alongside its other offerings (spoiler alert: possibly getting closer to payments and emerging compliance needs in its customer base). The first part of this series provided insight into the deal itself, where WorkMarket fits in the ADP organization and our own analysis of what the acquisition could mean for ADP customers, shareholders and the freelancer/IC solutions marketplace. In this second part of the series, we share perspective on what a “WorkMarket Inside” offering could be like for ADP and clients, along with some speculation on what ADP’s “opening move” in the contingent workforce space might mean longer term.

Is Total Talent Management Really the Next Big Thing? Or is There Something Else? [Plus +]


We hear the terms total talent management (TTM), holistic talent management and blended workforce bandied about with great frequency by analysts and writers these days. But when and how it will be achieved remain unclear. While some declare the time is right for such an approach and hazard conceptual roadmaps, others have wondered whether the idea is really feasible. This concept of a unified way of sourcing and engaging both permanent and contingent labor/talent is appealing and probably inevitable, but its realization is – even according to its promoters – admittedly still some ways off. Spend Matters believes there could be another, more near-term development, closer to home in the areas of contingent workforce and services that has already started to occur and is of more practical relevance to procurement. This is a trend toward a comprehensive independent workforce ecosystem and eventually workforce as a service, which will mean correlating capabilities and outcomes under an expanded services taxonomy. But what exactly is this other development? Read on...

The Leap From Contingent Workforce to Extended Workforce and Services [Plus +]

This Plus brief proposes that an organizational shift is taking place from (a) enterprises that source and consume a limited set of labor/talent resources (contingent workforce) through certain processes and technology solutions to (b) enterprises that are advancing to another stage (extended workforce) in which a broader array of labor/talent-based services can be accessed by internal business consumers. Some of the pieces of the extended workforce ecosystem are already present, but major gaps in technology and processes must be filled, and procurement must become interested in moving beyond its limited contingent workforce view and take an interest in making extended workforce a reality for their businesses.

How Procurement Can Contribute to Platform Sourcing Initiatives: There Are More Ways Than One (Part 2) [PRO]

As we observed in the Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series, five years ago, “online work/services platforms were off the radar for large enterprises and most certainly off the radar for all but a few CW/S procurement organizations. But much has changed since then. Not only has awareness increased significantly but an increasing number of enterprises have piloted or have moved further up the adoption curve. Moreover, traditional staffing-related providers (e.g., MSPs, VMS) have begun to incorporate platform sourcing into their services and technology solution models, creating another way for enterprises to move along an adoption path.

We argued that, in this context, it was not only the time for procurement functions to take platform sourcing initiatives seriously but also to participate in positive ways. To do that, we argued that a different kind of mindset would be required: one where procurement could very well be a member of a team of equals that all had contributions to make to the initiative. In addition, by understanding that most procurement functions may not have the level of resources and maturity to assume a full-time leadership role, we showed how those procurement functions could participate in other ways, allowing them to both move up the learning curve and have an increasingly positive impact on the initiatives.

In Part 2 of this series, we turn our focus to how CW/S procurement can leverage its functional expertise and skills to make specific, concrete contributions to the advancement and success of direct sourcing initiatives. We also discuss how CW/S procurement may change over time to be much better aligned to supporting enterprise needs for new, increasingly digitally enabled sources and forms of work and services beyond the current focus on traditional contingent workforce and SOW management.

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.

Self-Sourcing Contingent Workforce: What it is and Why it Matters Now [Plus +]

Many services procurement and contingent workforce managers in mid-to-large enterprises are already at various stages of implementing supplier and spend management programs to control and enable their businesses’ consumption of the contingent workforce. These programs typically allow business users to submit a request specifying the characteristics of the kind of worker(s) or business outcome(s) they desire. From that point, it is typically the program — and its rules, processes and systems, like a vendor management system (VMS) — that will source the specified worker(s) or project(s) from third-party supplier firms, which are almost always temp agencies or statement of work (SOW) suppliers, and hopefully deliver what the business user specified and desired.

In effect, it is the program, not the business user, that sources the worker(s) or project(s) for the business user. And the business user directly engages with the worker(s) or project resources at the end of the sourcing process, which can go on for weeks, often with many repeated cycles, until the business user is satisfied with the program’s deliverable.

By contrast, self-sourcing, which will be discussed in this Spend Matters Plus brief, allows the business users to identify, engage, select and procure labor resources (today typically independent workers) on their own, directly. Self-sourcing will increasingly become a contingent workforce buying channel, driven by user demand and enabling technology, and procurement and contingent workforce managers must now begin to understand it and prepare to management it.

Technology, Platforms, Disruption and the Transformation of the Consulting Industry [Plus +]


Few would disagree that the professional services industry is mature — business and delivery models and the actual industry structure have remained practically unchanged for decades now. This industry is not only mature but also massive and complex.

A long state of industry maturity is almost always a predictor of an approaching period of significant change — disruptive, transformative and most often both. As in other industries, technology and online platforms are already making their mark — and will do so increasingly.

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

This Vendor Snapshot focuses on Beeline, a contingent workforce and services sourcing and management technology solution provider. For years one of the top global players in the traditional VMS software category, the company has begun to expand its solution in a number of different directions to address the changing needs of enterprise clients at a time when external workforce utilization is increasing and new technology solutions for sourcing and managing contingent workforce and services (CW/S) are required. Although Beeline, as a company now merged with IQNavigator (IQN), currently serves clients with two VMS solutions, in this series we focus on the Beeline platform; we plan to address the IQN solution in the future.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and solution overview, including basic fit criteria for firms considering Beeline. Part 2 explores Beeline’s product strengths and weaknesses, providing facts and expert analysis to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the vendor to enable their services procurement technology requirements. It also offers a high-level evaluation of the user interface. Part 3 of this series will offer a SWOT analysis, user selection guide, competitive alternatives, and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

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


This PRO Vendor Snapshot focuses on Catalant, an online (cloud-based) work intermediary and evolving enterprise platform that allows organizations to access and engage highly skilled, well-credentialed independent business consultants and small, boutique consulting businesses. These resources can be sourced from Catalant’s own “digital marketplace” of independent talent and small consulting providers, which has been growing both in terms of number of providers and number of enterprise customers since 2013.

Since that time, Catalant has been extending its enterprise platform to, at this stage of platform development, allow organizations to establish private networks of their own self-sourced consulting resources (including alumni and retirees). It also enables organizations to create and manage teams of internal (employee) workers and blended internal-external (consultant) workers over a full project lifecycle, as well as archive, share and access project content and artifacts.

Part 1 of our analysis provided a company and solution overview. In Part 1, we also identified basic fit criteria for firms considering Catalant. In Part 2 of this series, we present our view and analysis of Catalant’s product strengths and weaknesses to help procurement organizations decide if they should shortlist the solution provider. We also offer a high-level evaluation of the user interface. Part 3, the final part of this series, will provide a business SWOT analysis, user selection guide, an overview of competitors and additional evaluation and selection considerations.

The Venerable VMS: A Situation and SWOT Analysis of the VMS Solution Category [PRO]

In this PRO brief, we take an in-depth look at the presumably well-understood vendor management solution (VMS) solution category: where it and the providers falling within it are today and what the future may hold. We also provide practical insights and suggestions for enterprise buyers, as well as recommendations for further reading.

How to Attack Marketing Spend (Part 5) [Plus +]

One of the most important elements of tackling marketing spend is executive buy-in, which requires aligning the vision of the CMO, CPO and CFO. In fact, don't do anything until you force this to happen. Above all, ensure that your CPO is well briefed, and don’t let this person destroy your credibility by going into meetings with the CMO with the usual procurement speak. Take the time to get your CPO genuinely interested in the topic as a means of furthering his own interests and even career. For example, in a CPG or retail company, all executives can further their interests by knowing more about marketing. In general, some might call this attaining “stakeholder buy-in,” since there may be stakeholders who are critical decision makers but are not C-level. You get the idea.

How to Attack Marketing Spend (Part 4) [Plus +]


Today we continue our exploration of best practices and strategies for attacking marketing spend with the importance of training; a return to the potential benefits of decoupling creative from production; and the necessity of cultural sensitivity to bridge the gap between marketing and procurement teams. Missed the previous installments of this series? Check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 before reading on!