MBO Partners Launches MBO Connect — A New Way for Enterprises to Directly Source Independent Professionals

MBO Partners

MBO Partners, which describes itself as a provider of independent contractor engagement solutions, announced its pilot launch of what it is calling MBO Connect, a tool for directly engaging contractors, consultants and freelancers.  

“MBO Connect brings an on-demand approach to talent management, enabling businesses to quickly and directly bridge the gap between open project opportunities and independent workers who have proven their value to managers enterprise-wide,” MBO CEO Gene Zaino said in a press release.

What Exactly is MBO Connect and What Does It Do?

From what we understand, the MBO Connect technology-based solution enables enterprise managers to build private online talent pools of their valued and trusted independent workers. Managers can directly source and engage those independent workers through the MBO Connect platform, while MBO provides essential payment and other services to ensure correct worker classification. (More on this below.)   

The press release does not seem to indicate that MBO Connect functions as an online marketplace platform where network effects can draw together potentially large populations of buyers and sellers of labor services. Instead it appears that enterprise clients build their online talent pools largely from the independent workers they select.  

However, we also know that MBO has already established a positive online user experience to attract, engage and retain independents. In addition, MBO has discussed possible future relationships and integrations with other online marketplaces and talent pools from which enterprises can source independent workers to be vetted for admission into MBO Connect.

The press release lays out a range of potential benefits that enterprise could realize, perhaps most notably cost savings. Because MBO Connect supports a direct sourcing model, MBO suggests that enterprises can source and engage flexible workforce more cost effectively than through traditional suppliers. According to Bob Lucas, staffing industry veteran and senior vice president of business development for MBO Partners, “MBO Connect can save more than 30% on overall services supply chain cost. Once you select the best candidate, you can step back to let MBO handle the rest — contractor administration, compliance, onboarding, payments, benefits and more.”

MBO Connect also represents a significant extension of MBO’s existing technology infrastructure and rounding out of functionality similar to other platform players that have been clumped together — perhaps improperly — into a category dubbed freelancer management system (FMS). That aside, MBO Connect appears to be in keeping with current technological developments. As briefly mentioned in the press release, “MBO Connect offers a number of value-added features, including a private messaging interface that enables hiring managers to securely connect with independents and a mobile-first development structure that makes it easy to source talent at any time, from any device.”

Putting MBO’s Move Into the Broader Context

The context for this latest MBO move is the growing demand for and supply of workers that choose to work independently, outsides of full-time employment or temporary staffing work arrangements (see about MBO’s recent report). Enterprise managers are interested in accessing this important, flexible talent pool and doing so directly without the relatively costly and slow intermediation of traditional staffing suppliers. Technology, especially in the form of Work intermediation platforms (WIPs), has increasingly played an essential role in supporting the direct sourcing and engagement of this independent workforce.   

These developments, many of us know, have recently been complicated by the increasing scrutiny of and legal challenges to online WIPs’’ engagement of workers under the classification of independent contractor. MBO and its introduction of MBO Connect platform represents a unique case, because MBO has long been in the business ensuring and indemnifying the correct classification of independent professionals. Whereas most, if not all, WIPs have come to market with little if any expertise in and delivery capability for work classification assurance, strategically MBO Partners has done just the opposite.

Wrap-up for Today

This MBO Connect development should be carefully noted by contingent workforce and services procurement professionals who are interested in developing new channels to source and engage contingent workforce more cost-effectively as compared to existing labor supply chain channels. Cost-effective not only means cost savings but also increased satisfaction of business users who are more and more inclined toward direct, online source-to-pay solutions.

For practitioners who are not up to date on the accelerating developments in this contingent talent acquisition space, Spend Matters offers a range of coverage on numerous sub-parts. Links to some of them are here: MBO PartnersWIPSFMSIndependent Workforce and Direct (Self) Sourcing.

The MBO’s introduction of MBO Connect is a significant development that merits deeper analysis, which Spend Matters intends to conduct and publish in the next several days. Moreover, given that is was also clarified that as pilot release, “MBO Connect is now available to select enterprise partners ahead of a wider launch in early 2016,” there will no doubt be additional Spend Matters analysis and coverage over that time frame.

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