Managing Your Temporary Workforce the tabs Way

It’s always interesting to hear about old procurement friends who are doing something a little different, so we were intrigued when Simon Jones got in touch to introduce me to a start-up he is working with. Simon was a procurement head in a number of organisations – Telewest and Talk Talk come to mind – as well as a  very successful driving force behind the CIPS London branch at one time.

He is now working to get the message out about tabs®, an app (or platform maybe) created by Global iLabs, a London-based commercial innovation business. tabs® is positioned as a solution to issues around the management of contingent workers; we’ve written extensively about this area, a growing spend category for most organisations.  And our first discussion with Jones, Paul Excell (Chairman of tabs®) and Kelly Rogers from Global iLabs suggested it could prove to be a useful solution in a couple of different ways, potentially reducing costs and improving process efficiency.

The tabs® platform is designed for use on mobile devices. The user on the employer side – and that could be an end user who needs to find someone or a recruitment agency of some sort – can notify the platform that they have an opportunity. That becomes a “job alert”, a shift or assignment for which the user has a need for a worker or workers. The employee or service provider side of the process can then indicate that they are available to carry out the work, and acceptance is communicated via tabs®. We’re told that the app also helps with rostering (scheduling of workers), although we should stress that we have not seen a full demo at this time.

tabs® then gets into helping with the nitty gritty of contingent labour management, with “auto-timesheet” generation, submission and approval of timesheets. It can then feed information into the user’s ERP systems or other payment processes.

There is more functionality outside this core process; the worker can indicate which days or shifts he or she is available, and can update this in real time – just as the employer can keep the network of potential workers updated with the latest schedules and opportunities.

tabs® was launched a year ago, and Simon Jones has been helping the firm make contacts in the procurement world, with some early successes in the healthcare sector (a major user of contingent labour, as we all know) and in private sector firms.

There are of course many “work intermediation platforms” and our own Andrew Karpie at Spend Matters US is probably the world’s leading expert analyst on this market – we’re hoping to get him to take a look at tabs®. But where this may have an edge over some of the other WIPs is the focus not just on linking up the employer and the worker, but in efficiently and effectively managing the wider process.

It is easy to see why and how recruitment agencies could bolt on these capabilities to their core services; and there may well be a need still for the agency’s services, such as around onboarding and compliance (how do we know the nurse on the app really is qualified to work in the UK?). But you can also see how tabs® could be a threat to the traditional agency model. “Disruptive” is maybe the most overused word in tech at the moment, but this might just prove to be one of those ideas.

As we say, there is a note of caution in that we have not had a real demo or talked to clients yet, but we will keep an eye on progress here – and it is also good to see an experienced procurement man branching out into such as entrepreneurial environment.

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