Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit: Retooling How Enterprises Work (Part 2) [PRO]

In Part 2 of this three-part series, we shift our focus from the examination of what the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit is and how it emerged with a broader work innovation initiative at Microsoft to the major role of Microsoft’s procurement organization in the process from the very beginning to the present.

In Part 1, we focused on the “customer zero” approach to the development of the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit within Microsoft over the last 18 months. We also discussed the research, ideation and strategy process that started six to eight months earlier involving a number of key stakeholder groups/experts, including procurement, HR, legal and strategy in addition to the Microsoft 365 Product Content Group, led by Paul Estes.

We noted that this broader process was as much a cross-functional, organizational innovation journey into the future of work as it was a product journey motivated by the need to understand what the future of work would mean for Microsoft 365 products.

Over the past several years, Spend Matters has been researching to what extent — and how — larger enterprises have been adopting digital work platforms (such as freelancer marketplaces, crowd-based services platforms, etc.) as a way to source certain kinds of talent for suitable types of assignments.

We have also been focused on how services procurement/contingent workforce managers have been approaching (or could approach) these new sources on behalf of their organizations (see, for example, “How Procurement Can Participate in Platform Sourcing Initiatives: There Are More Ways Than One — Part 1 and Part 2”).

Based on our discussion with Chad Nesland, director of strategic sourcing at Microsoft, we now look at how procurement, starting two years ago, participated in Microsoft’s gig economy/work innovation initiative that, six months later, led to a supplier-partnership relationship with Upwork Enterprise and the subsequent development of the freelancer toolkit delivered to Microsoft 365 clients last December.

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