Total Talent Management: The Need to Think Big(ger)

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Total talent management (TTM) has been a much-discussed concept over the past 5 years, evangelized by solution providers and analysts alike. While it’s highly likely that all organizations will eventually source and manage human capital and services in a highly integrated way, there remains an open question of how evolving or even disruptive technology will drive and enable those sourcing and management processes and what the destination will be like. These are important questions for contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement practitioners trying to get their arms around a supposedly imminent TTM.

TTM Today

While the concept of managing a blended workforce is appealing, unsurprisingly the gap between vision and reality seems quite wide. Most often TTM is used in reference to the holistic management of internal/permanent and external/contingent workforce. Staffing Industry Analysts rightfully extends and expands the scope and vision to include the management of service providers and technology (“non-human options such as robots, drones and cognitive computing applications”). However, even the first, simpler concept above does not seem easy to achieve.

Currently, there are existing, siloed systems, processes, competencies and organizations to overcome. While there are some companies that have structured themselves to manage internal/permanent and external/contingent workforce under one roof, these are rare. There are also new and evolving technology solution providers that have embraced the goal of enabling management of blended workforce — but in terms of making it happen at real organizations, it is at best early days. Finally, young organizations (e.g., aspiring unicorns) would seem to have the opportunity to embrace TTM from the start, and perhaps this will be where TTM will become real.

The question is: Will TTM be a major milestone on the old route of CW/S procurement development, or will sourcing and management technology — like the building of a new freeway — provide a high speed thoroughfare to what was a seemingly more distant destination?

The Evolving Focus of CW/S Procurement

Some have said there has been little change in the focus of CW/S procurement over many years. But there has been change, though not very fast.

As suggested in the diagram below, the long-time CW/S focus on workforce is now expanding to SOW and services. With respect to current CW/S technology solutions, some of this extension is being supported by VMS solutions (some more than others). Specialized service solutions barely exist today, while at the same time, some e-procurement solution providers are expanding their market focus and extending functionality. The absence of a full range of adequate solutions at least partially accounts for the gradual progress in services spend capture (within the lower right quadrant). Though estimates of services spend under management indicate a high year-over-year growth rate, it is clear that the quantity of spend under management is just a fraction of total services spend (and is mainly confined to professional services and some outsourcing).

Nonetheless, looking toward the horizon, the potential scope of CW/S procurement can go beyond traditional workforce and services categories to include spend on new technology-based services and solutions (upper two quadrants). In fact, while it may appear today that the only new CW/S development is the extension of scope in traditional SOW/services, in reality, the scope is also already being pulled into the upper quadrants, as well.

The emergence of digital platform-based providers of workforce and services (upper left quadrant) is now coming into sharper focus for CW/S procurement organizations, with some already testing the waters. (See two of our recent publications: Next-Generation Digital Service Providers: The Who, What and Why for Services Procurement and Must-Know Practices for Adopting Contingent Workforce/Services Procurement Technology). And while the technology-based solutions and services in both upper quadrants may seem to many practitioners as being “way out there” and out of scope, they already exist and are entering the mainstream. For example, we are already living in a world where drone as a service already exists (see Measure).

That being the case, anticipating what will be in the scope of (and what will challenge) CW/S procurement is certainly crucial. It is just as important, however, to establish a model and framework that will support CW/S procurement in an everything as a service (XaaS) world that goes beyond talent/workforce and traditional service providers.

Stay tuned for more Spend Matter analysis on this.

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