3 Ways Contingent Workforce and Services Procurement Professionals Can Stay Ahead in 2017

services procurement

New Year’s resolutions are a fun, time-honored practice that are often made with the best of intentions – yet, quite often, they melt away like the the gray-brown remnants of snow by the time February and March roll around.

However, we’ve resolved to help contingent workforce and services procurement professionals stay on top of their game as we head into 2017. Last week, Spend Matters’ Research Director of Services and Labor Procurement, Andrew Karpie, gave his look ahead on platform-intermediated work trends in the coming year, including three possible scenarios stemming from how digital platform intermediation for work and services will increasingly become “a mainstream sourcing mechanism in the enterprise.”

In the article, Andrew dispensed this advice for procurement practitioners: “Start, accelerate, expand your analysis and understanding of what is happening and be open to launching real-world pilots.”

How to go about doing that?

Here are some top ways contingent workforce and services procurement professionals can sharpen their understanding and experience throughout this next year.

1. Learn from your internal business users and discover how you can make their dreams (and your dreams) come true.

Reach out to those internal business users that are already down the road in order to educate yourself, not to meddle.

“You can't assume that you understand how to manage their business,” said Kanita Brown, managing partner at KH Brown Solutions, LLC. “So it's critical to leverage their knowledge and build trust in order to build a partnership that yields great results for the business overall.”

It may turn out that users’ dreams are getting bigger and more complex. “Your internal business users no longer need access to what vendor management systems (VMS) have traditionally provided – they need more,” said Patrick Petitti, CEO of Catalant. “They need access to a broader spectrum of business talent, and they need it on-demand when the need comes up.”

2. Examine and figure out which of your third-party contingent workforce service providers have the right stuff.

Look into what you really need to get out of your third-party providers (e.g. MSPs, Contractor Management, Payrolling, etc.) and figure out which ones have the right stuff to go the whole nine yards.

“Be open to changing both providers and scope,” said Brown, a former HR category manager at Halliburton and senior purchasing manager of global business services at P&G. “‘One-size-fits-all’ rarely works anymore, but you should seek to create a talent sourcing supply chain made of multiple providers that work together to meet the needs of the business.”

Ultimately, everything starts with setting clear expectations from the get-go. "Ensure you've got well-established and agreed-to goals for your contingent workforce and ways of measuring your progress towards those goals," said Brian Hoffmeyer, GVP of Marketing Strategies for IQNavigator / Beeline, and certified contingent workforce professional.

3. Proactively "market" yourself across the organization and up the chain of command.

Essentially, help senior management to connect the dots.

“Procurement [is] in the driver’s seat for a fundamental challenge and opportunity that every company in the world will face as talent chooses to work differently, and a core organizational competency is engaging that talent at the time you need it,” said Petitti.

In order to ensure the value you're bringing is being recognized, you have to get good at communicating how your efforts and results tie to the business goals — and you must do it frequently, according to Kanita Brown.

“Create a monthly/quarterly program update that is customized to the different functions (Procurement, HR, Operations, IT, etc.) that utilize the program,” said Brown. “Provide a copy of your QBR to leadership with bullet points that are relevant to them. Ensure that any recognition by program users is communicated to program sponsors and your management chain. Share market intelligence that is relevant to business issues (compliance, market conditions, technology).

“Become the expert for anything related to contingent labor,” she concluded.

Some More Ways to Stay Ahead

  • Develop a real understanding about how technology is and will be impacting enterprise sourcing and management of contingent workforce and services. Have a vision!
  • Continue to pursue cost and risk management, but think out of the box about how technologies (like mobile, analytics and algorithms, etc.) can enable new sourcing channels, get internal business users on board, and achieve more spend capture and more cost and risk management benefits.  
  • Make a point of becoming knowledgeable about the new landscape of technology-enabled, platform-based intermediaries and what innovative sourcing and management models they can support.
  • Don't look narrowly at services as "SOW," and broaden your field of vision to the sourcing and management of all kinds of services. Services are the the next frontier and opportunity for procurement.

(Karen Thrasher, employment manager at Southwest Airlines and leader of their Contingent Workforce program, undoubtedly still busy with the post-holiday crush, responded briefly via email to our request for comment on all of the above: “I agree with the value of each point,” she noted.)

Ultimately, ‘big-P’ Procurement has to understand the existing supply chain and what's happening in the market that can help their business, according to Brown.

“That requires staying close to stakeholders and the respective industries for the services they are sourcing,” she said. “They should be constantly evaluating their providers and seeking ways to make it better and/or extract more value.”

Don't miss this brand-new research brief from Spend Matters' Andrew Karpie on The Impact of Disruptive Technologies on contingent workforce and services procurement! 

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First Voice

  1. Brian Hoffmeyer:

    Thanks for the quote. Interesting quote from Patrick (Catalant) on businesses needing more access to talent. This is exactly what IQN and Beeline believe and it is why we’ve focused on our self-sourcing and talent partner ecosystem strategies. The VMS needs to remain the system of record, the platform that connects all of these talent sources and that provides visibility, risk mitigation, and controls. Love to discuss this more at any time.

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