Author Archives: Andrew Karpie

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: April 2020

Welcome to the April 2020 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to our PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments in the CW/S space.

In the last Hot List, we covered key events and developments that took place in February Among those were FY 2019 financial reports of three publicly traded online work/services platforms, various developments among a number of online work/services platforms and ongoing developments in financial services that cater to contingent workers and small businesses.

While this month’s Hot List will focus on what happened in the historic month of March 2020, it will try to give readers a respite from the bombardment of COVID-19 news and mostly focus on what may be workforce “hot spots,” but not in the epidemiological sense. (For help with coronavirus-related workforce issues, read our coverage of go-to solutions for finding workers in a crisis and how businesses can cope in the near term and other phases of the crisis.)

Turning now to the workforce developments in March 2020 ...

Now through April 2020, a Spend Matters' special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off. The discount applies to PRO subscription content from our analysts and other services. — Learn more

Read all of Spend Matters’ coronavirus coverage here.

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Contingent Workforce and Services Solutions — How to find the right workers, services in a crisis

In this installment of our “Coronavirus Response” series, Spend Matters will focus on contingent workforce and services issues now that it’s not business as usual. In the COVID-19 crisis, the level of uncertainty in worker availability drives an increased need for workforce agility and, perhaps, new trade-offs between time, cost and risk. This may be a time when relying only on existing sourcing channels and suppliers will come up short.

External platforms or networks for remote and online workforce/services can be used to find and engage freelancers and small service providers across the globe who can perform activities totally online. Work can be managed, accepted and paid for online. In its basic form it can be up and running in a number of minutes with a credit card.

These new kinds of technology-based CW/S solutions from providers like Upwork, Fiverr and Topcoder may yield important benefits over and beyond what might be provided by a VMS. This is not to say a VMS solution is an unimportant contributor in the current crisis. On the contrary, it is critical.

The overall mission of this PRO series is to examine categories of relevant solutions (and example providers) that professionals in procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should investigate to reduce, and even mitigate, coronavirus supply risk. And even if the solutions are only addressing a subset of the issues, the ability to respond intelligently in the short term can also help set organizations up for the future when sanity returns to the world.

This article addresses the seventh category of the seven we currently have outlined:

1. Supply risk management solutions that include supply chain risk, CSR risk, supplier financial risk, etc.
2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing, automated supplier discovery, and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source.
3. Advanced procurement analytics to enable direct procurement and/or to perform “spend planning” when demand drops out or spikes. (Its profile for this series is here.)
4. P2P that emphasizes working capital, dynamic discounting, payment control and related finance priorities to help inject cash into the P2P process — especially for many cash-starved suppliers. (This category is discussed in-depth here.)
5. Fraud, P2P and vendor management safeguards when new suppliers need to be set up quickly, and also when lowlife fraudsters try to use the pandemic as a way to steal money and IP.
6. Providers with deep contract analytics that can analyze a contract portfolio for affected contracts from suppliers (and customers) for not just force majeure clauses, but other related clauses that tie to the multiple risks popping up at once in the pandemic.
7. Contingent workforce and services solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls. We are looking at four categories of solutions for sourcing remote/online work; solutions for sourcing and managing contract workers at geo-specific capabilities; solutions to “direct source” and manage contract workers; solutions for data management and analytics.

Owing to the magnitude of the crisis, Spend Matters recently made the series introduction available for free to all readers. PRO subscribers can see our follow-up pieces that profile the other categories and their solutions in that market. We will include a lot of information on each category PRO brief that readers can see without hitting a paywall, but since we also draw heavily from our existing deep-dive analysis of the providers from our SolutionMap database, some information will be available only to our PRO subscribers.

For workforce management, organizations should rely on their VMS solutions to manage the sourcing and management of temporary staffing suppliers and workers as well as SOW/services, as existing suppliers will be important sources of flexible workers (for example, to fill gaps in administrative or customer-facing jobs when regular workers must take a PTO day or just don’t show up). Perhaps organizations could use their trusted staffing suppliers as employers of record and payrollers to allow specific laid-off workers to return to work on a temporary basis. These are substantial channels of supply that should be maintained/sustained. A VMS can help with that.

Organizations should also collaborate with their VMS providers to find or optimize applications of solution capabilities unique to the crisis environment. For example, exploiting supplier management capabilities and increasing frequency of monitoring could be important, as staffing and SOW supplier capacities and performance may change quickly in a crisis environment.

Indeed, organizations that are not using a VMS today should perhaps be thinking about it, if they anticipate using more contingent workforce or having a more unpredictable contingent workforce requirements going forward. Spend Matters’ SolutionMap rankings cover enterprise solutions for Temp Staffing (and Contracted Services/SOW) and can provide an accelerated research path for zeroing in on appropriate solutions (e.g., VMS solutions that can be put in gear rapidly and so on).

In this Coronavirus Response series, the CW/S category has four types of solutions that need to be explored:

1. External platforms/networks for remote or online workforce/services (such as Upwork and many others) can be used to find and engage freelancers and small service providers across the globe who can perform activities totally online. For example, if an organization required a data analyst with R skills to analyze a large date set tomorrow. Work can be managed, accepted and paid for online. In its basic form it can be up and running in a number of minutes with a credit card.
2. External platforms/networks for geo-specific, locational workforce/services (such as Field Nation and others) can be used to deploy mobile technology-enabled field contractors on demand across wide geographies (individually or a groups). For example, if a company’s employee field technician must care for a family member and can no longer leave the house to make onsite repairs in a particular geographical area, contract field technicians can be engaged through such a platform. Workers can be sourced and work product accepted and paid for online.
3. Direct Sourcing solutions for workforce/specialized, small service providers (SSPs) such as (ShortList and others) can be used to directly engage a company’s contract workers such as consultants already in use, alumni or directly sourced fresh. For example, alumni with crucial knowledge/skills may be built up in reserve in a private talent pool, ready to activate at any time (this is something that healthcare systems are doing with retired personnel). The SaaS solution enables much of the Source-to-Invoice cycle for workers and service providers and is typically integrated with a company’s invoice/payments system. These solutions are typically subscription fee-based.
4. Data Management/Analytics solutions for workforce/services (such as Brightfield TDX and others) can be used to optimize contingent/extended workforce costs through market rate benchmarking, existing workforce configuration and market/trends analysis. If an organization will need to substitute contingent workers for a particular segment of its full-time employed workers (or simply augment them) a Data/Analytics can help to establish accurate contingent workforce rate benchmarking to ensure market prices are being paid. These solutions can be subscription or unit fee-based.

In this PRO brief, we focus on how external platforms/networks for remote or online workforce/services — which are not yet widely adopted by larger enterprises — may be leveraged to open up new pathways to needed labor/talent and services and to enable workforce flexibility and agility. All of which will be important in navigating the current crisis as its stages unfold.

This issue, like each category-specific PRO piece in this series, will be discussed in three sections:

1. Problems and Use Cases. In this section, we’ll highlight the problems in force (which will vary through different phases of the crisis) and the various scenarios where solutions can provide deeper insights, intelligence and scalable workflows.
2. Solution Rationale and Value. In this section, we’ll outline how various solutions can help solve the problems and list what value they can add to your business.
3. Example Providers. In this last section, we’ll highlight the solution providers that can address the problems and deliver some value.

OK, let's dive into workforce solutions that can help.

Through April 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off — Learn more

SAP Ariba Live online: Integrated, Intelligent ‘Services Procurement’


First, I wanted to congratulate SAP and its Intelligent Spend team for making Wednesday’s online event happen so soon after its coronavirus-driven decision to cancel its annual event in Las Vegas. Kudos, too, for the professional and informative presentations and very usable infrastructure, which included immediately available recordings.

Now for my conference report: I spent a good part of the morning “attending” virtual sessions (with my services procurement filters turned on, of course). I had expected to hear a more specific update on the SAP Fieldglass solution suite. However, solution migration and integration seemed to be the main themes of the day, as the SAP Intelligent Spend movement continues its process of integrating solutions, like SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass, onto a single cloud platform, through CIG (Cloud Integration Gateway) on top of HANA (an application appliance in-memory database).

Coronavirus affects the world of work — How can businesses cope with the COVID-19 outbreak? (Part 1)

Note: This Spend Matters PRO brief about the coronavirus and issues related to the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space has been unlocked from the paywall to inform all of our readers. Subsequent briefs in this series may be for PRO subscribers only.

Among all of the coronavirus outbreak’s severe, extraordinary effects on people and the economy, the impact on work has been one of the most visible. Businesses have been scrambling to sort out adjustments they can make to keep their workers safe, contain the virus’ spread and continue operating.

Technology has played a significant role in sourcing and managing CW/S for three decades (think of VMS, job boards, etc.). And, in the past 10 years, new technology (the cloud, mobile, AI) and applications (external workforce/services platforms/networks, intelligent data analytics solutions or solution capabilities, etc.) have given rise to new offerings that may not have had adequate attention from top management levels in past years.

How CW/S can be leveraged to mitigate problems and advance new solutions over the different stages of this crisis will likely be an important topic of executive team brainstorming and discussion in the coming weeks and months. There is an opportunity for businesses to question status quo ways of doing things and look beyond them. In doing so, the use of technology as an enabler may come into sharper focus.

In this multi-part series, we will look at how, what and where businesses executives can consider technology-enabled solutions for sourcing and managing contingent workforce and services.

Part 1 of the series is a general introduction that provides a view on how different types of solutions are applicable in four crisis/post-crisis stages.

Through April 2020, a special PRO Expert Survival Pack is available to procurement practitioners only* at up to 50% off - Learn more

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: March 2020

Hot List turns now to February 2020, when we saw news about work/service providers’ 2019 financials, other developments in the work/platform space, one platform’s move to provide worker benefits and a freelance financial services space that’s simmering with innovation.

Revisiting ‘SOW Lite’ (Part 2) — Changes in enterprise adoption, solutions, the law since 2017

In Part 1 of this series, we revisited the problems that SOW management technology faced in 2017. Today, it’s time to catch up on the current state of SOW Lite, a conceptual model that we defined this way:

“While we use the term SOW Lite, we are not simply referring to contracting. Contracting is a kind of linchpin in a whole lifecycle process that is analogous to that of large-scale SOW management. As such, we are really talking about a lifecycle process — call it SOW Lite management — which runs from sourcing, through contracting, onboarding, project management, and all the way to invoicing and payment. Moreover, this process, and the technology that supports it, must be fit-for-purpose.”

Here we are in early 2020. So, what has changed?

Revisiting ‘SOW Lite’ — What’s changed in two years? (Part 1)

Back in the fall of 2017, we made the case for “SOW Lite” when we wrote about “a mismatch between what is required for contracting projects with freelancers, independent professionals and small service providers, on the one hand, and the current SOW framework for larger scale projects provided by larger, incorporated service providers, on the other hand.”

We also implored procurement “to take the bull by the horns and give business users some new tools to do what they need to do to tap into these resources — and at the same time meet many of the goals of procurement.”

Since then, direct sourcing and multi-channel sourcing have been emerging as mainstream models and practices. And laws and technology solutions have been evolving. In this two-part brief, we revisit the topic to see how it has developed.

Elevated Resources: Vendor Introduction (Solution Overview, SWOT, Selection Checklist, Commentary)

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on Elevated Resources and its capabilities that help mid-size companies with their contingent workforce programs. The brief includes an overview of the company and its solution offerings, a solution evaluation, a SWOT analysis and, lastly, a selection checklist for companies that might consider the provider. This Vendor Introduction is mostly focused on Elevated Resources’ technology, in particular ELEVATE VMS.

Five Scenarios for VMS 2025: Scenario 2 — Procurement Rules

This is “Scenario 2” of the Spend Matters PRO series in which we consider five scenarios for VMS in 2025. These scenarios represent exploratory thinking (not predictions) on our part. And they are not necessarily meant to be mutually exclusive (in fact, multiple scenarios will probably co-exist in 2025). In any case, they are intended to be tools to assist planners and executives in their thinking about the future. Spend Matters' Founder Jason Busch explored the issues in an introduction to the series.

The first scenario, named “The Status Quo,” explored a world in which VMS continues to evolve and flourish (alongside other enterprise software solutions, such as HCM) as a distinct, specialized enterprise solution for sourcing of temps and, potentially, other forms of contingent workforce.

This second scenario, named “Procurement Rules,” explores a world in which procure-to-pay (P2P) — or even source-to-pay S2P — technology suites integrate or subsume the capabilities of VMS (or vice-versa?). A trendline to this scenario has already emerged. SAP Ariba and Coupa have embarked on such a path through acquisition, and other procurement solutions could follow, whether by acquisition/integration or as extensions of their own platform.

HCM Strategies: Vendor Introduction, Analysis and SWOT

This Spend Matters PRO Vendor Introduction offers a candid take on HCM Strategies and its capabilities — features that help companies establish market-based salary/pay-rate and contingent labor rate benchmarks and gain related insights into the market and their own business patterns. The company provides services within the U.S. today but is targeting the UK for 2020.

This PRO brief also includes an overview of HCM Strategies and its solution offerings, a summary solution evaluation, a SWOT analysis and a selection checklist for companies that might consider the provider.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: February 2020

supply risk

Welcome to the February 2020 edition of Spend Matters Insider’s Hot List, a monthly look at the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) space that’s available to our PLUS and PRO subscribers. For those new to the Hot List, each edition covers the prior month’s important or interesting technology and innovation developments.

In the last Hot List, we covered the investment rounds at VNDLY and Qwil; Degreed’s acquisition of Adepto; Aquent’s solution for encouraging companies to provide “benefits” to their freelancers; and the kind of far-out idea (and reality) of a temporary staffing agency for robots and robots-as-a-service.

In the first month of 2020, we saw developments like wider adoption of blockchain, technology changes, big fundraising, more freelancer banking/payments, crowdsourcing and "New Law" in the area of outsourcing.

2020 & Direct Sourcing of Workforce/Services: What to Know

Direct sourcing of workforce/services (DSW/S) has been one of the most consistent, rising trends in the evolving contingent workforce/services (CW/S) procurement space in recent years. To a limited extent, the sourcing of contingent workers with little or no involvement of third party intermediaries has been practiced by most organizations for decades. But more recently, it has been changing in several ways, driven by a number of factors, including the emergence of fit-for-purpose technology. It is no coincidence, therefore, that there is a Spend Matters SolutionMap category — Direct Sourcing of Workforce/Services — that currently ranks nine technology solution providers (with more set to participate).

While the idea of sourcing and engaging workers directly (e.g., not through a traditional staffing supplier arrangement) seems simple enough, there are various forms that direct sourcing takes (depending upon the business use case) and a variety of ways that technology is being used to enable it. In that respect, it is not that simple. But it is something CW/S practitioners should be following — and probably getting prepared to evaluate — in 2020.

This Spend Matters PRO brief explains direct sourcing of workforce/services (DSW/S) in the context of 2020 and provides input for practitioners trying to understand how direct sourcing applies in their own specific business contexts/use cases. It discusses the considerable diversity of solution providers/solutions (based on our SolutionMap data and other observations) and how that diversity is relevant to supplier shortlisting and selection (including the role of the Spend Matters’ DSW/S SolutionMap framework).