Your Contingent Labor Strategy – What is the Secret Sauce for the Optimal Technology and ‘Work Arrangement Intermediary’ Mix?

Spend Matters welcomes this guest article by Terri Gallagher, president and CEO of Gallagher and Consultants.

Why is the answer to this so important? The average percentage of temporary workers in an organization is 20% and increasing dramatically each year; by 2020 it’s expected to make up roughly 50% of our total workforce, according to Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2015 Contingent Buyers Survey. This population will include independent consultants, on-demand talent and traditional contingent labor. For many organizations, established processes for sourcing, hiring, on-boarding, compensating and reviewing full-time employees do not support this increasingly critical part of their workforce. Integrating this key talent into your total workforce strategy presents interesting opportunities.

The good news is explosive temp labor growth is attracting new, progressive workforce solution and technology providers into the market, providing contingent workforce buyers enhanced options to help manage, leverage and optimize their contingent workforce. This is accomplished with two key, complementary components. First is the work arrangement intermediary (staffing suppliers, MSPs, RPOs), work intermediation platforms (WIPs) and hybrids of the preceding providing infrastructure and processes to facilitate and control work arrangements between businesses and workers. The other is technology — VMS, WIPs including online freelancer marketplaces, FMS, online talent clouds, etc. The bad news is, well, the novelty and number of options and choices.

First we need to know what a successful work arrangement intermediary and technology marriage looks like. Here are some clear signs of success:

  • High adoption rates by users across your organization
  • High scores on comprehensive quality metrics (cost, quality, compliance)
  • Consistent executive sponsorship and stakeholder buy-in
  • Continuous business process improvement
  • Intelligent data and analytics driving growth strategies and workforce planning
  • User-friendly (important!) technology platform(s) that enable end to end lifecycle management and access to multiple talent communities, across labor categories and countries. This can also be seamless multiple “bolt-on” technology solutions.
  • Seamless global workforce strategy (for multinational clients) with risk mitigation processes in place (tax, regulatory, labor laws) and standardized data platform
  • Evolution to total talent management as program matures

Marrying the right optional components to get to successful outcomes is new ground to tread for most, if not all, organizations. The correct team and processes must be brought together.

Having the right players at the table to collaborate is critical for success. The right players to involve during the full lifecycle process (RFI, solution, implementation and ops model) must include HR, procurement, finance and technology representation on the buyer side, and true workforce strategists, technology expertise and client steward on the workforce strategy provider side. This is a big change from how these programs have traditionally been designed and sold.

Ok, so now you have all the right players to work toward the optimal solution. But what do they need to be thinking about? Here are some factors to consider:

  • Work arrangement intermediary — The choices depend on the processes and systems already in place in an organization, where the gaps are and what are the requirements to build the operations model. Having the right players engaged will help you determine the right choices — in-house versus outsourced, the optimal work arrangement intermediary, etc. An MSP provider alone is not the right source to make technology recommendations for instance. The operations model must be designed to expand beyond functional control and lifecycle management to be a strategic workforce solution. It must grow with you through maturity phases and include dedicated technology and change management as well as data and analytics expertise.
  • Technology — “Bundled” versus “unbundled” work arrangement intermediary and technology solutions. These options have been evolving over the past few years. A bundled solution extends beyond an MSP provider with its own VMS tool. A possible bundled solution could encompass a workforce intermediary that is staffing, MSP or in-house based, with a suite of technology options — a combination of one or more VMS, mobile, and WIPs, etc. An “unbundled” standalone technology solution such as a VMS could provide end to end lifecycle management but you may need to consider other technology options to augment as your program expands or to access unique talent communities (i.e. shift work, IC’s, etc.) The good news is the technology providers are emphasizing open integration capabilities to make these options possible.

So what is the secret sauce for the optimal technology and workforce intermediary mix? It’s engaging the right expertise and stakeholders for collaboration. Every organization is unique, with its own challenges, sector nuances and culture. The key to navigating these options is to have the right talent at the table on both sides to design the optimal solution that is perfect for you and your organization now and for the future.

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