The Services and Indirect Spend Category

Strategic Technology Planning: A New Imperative for Contingent Workforce and Services Procurement (Part 1) [Plus+]

For many years now, planning for CW/S technology has been largely tactical, focusing almost exclusively on the capabilities and effectiveness of one VMS solution or another. Technology planning at a strategic level has been rare in CW/S procurement functions, in main part because it has not been necessary in a relatively static technology and supply chain environment. Need a core contingent workforce technology to manage processes, compliance, risk and cost? Adopt a VMS (or work through your MSP to get one). Seeking a specialized category solution? Work with the business owner (e.g., legal, telecom, facilities) to engage a vendor that meets everyone’s needs.

But in recent years, many aspects of the environment in which CW/S procurement executes its mission have begun to change significantly. Under these conditions, strategic planning becomes necessary. Because technology is now and will be presenting CW/S procurement functions with new opportunities to add value to their organizations in a variety of ways, allocating time and resources to conducting strategic technology planning is now an imperative. In most cases, this will mean starting from scratch. But foregoing strategic technology planning opens CW/S procurement to missed opportunities, core mission failure and possibly disruption.

In short: procurement, HR and IT organizations — not to mention line of business owners — need to work together to create their own CW/S technology information architecture through a strategic technology planning process. In Part 1 of this series, we build the case for strategic technology planning and provide an overview of what strategic technology planning means for a CW/S procurement function. In Part 2, we flesh out a targeted approach to CW/S procurement strategic technology planning and practical approaches for implementation within an organization.

MBO Partners’ 8th Annual State of Independence Report: What’s In It For Contingent Workforce Managers?

Coworks

MBO Partners has released its latest State of Independence in America report, which examines the size, trends, demographics and other information about the population of U.S. workers that, in effect, “work on their own” and earn income outside of traditional employment. The report, which was first published in 2011, provides a broad range of data and insights pertaining to this population that MBO estimates at nearly 42 million workers.

Is the Contingent Workforce Growing? Interpreting the Latest Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

services procurement

Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the 2017 Contingent Workforce Supplement, its first since 2005. The report estimates that in May 2017, 3.8% of the U.S. workforce, or 5.9 million workers, held contingent jobs. In the supplement, the BLS defines contingent workers as those who “do not have an implicit or explicit contract for ongoing employment.” Self-employed and independent contractors are included in this figure as long as they have been employed for under a year and expect their employment to last no more than one additional year.

Online Work Platforms and Enterprises: Survival of the Fittest or the Fastest? [Plus+]

cheeta

In this Plus research brief, we provide an analysis of the complex dynamics that characterize the online work platform technology market, in particular with respect to large enterprise adoption (or, to date, the lack thereof). We also examine some promising platform strategies/approaches that may promote platform business viability and, over time, more success in achieving large scale enterprise penetration. Finally, we discuss the implications of our analysis for both platform providers and enterprise buyers.

(Note: To avoid possible perception that we are making endorsements or recommendations in this brief, we forego references to specific platforms. Platform providers are evaluated separately, in our Vendor Snapshot and SolutionMap series, with these strategies and approaches in mind.)

The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List: July 2018 [Plus+]

Welcome to the sixth edition of Spend Matters’ monthly feature, “The Contingent Workforce and Services Insider’s Hot List,” available to Plus and PRO subscribers. As the mercury started to rise this summer, CW/S technology and innovation took a rest in the shade. Is this a seasonal fluctuation, or has the ongoing fire burned out? Most likely the former, but this month’s Hot List turned out more warm than fiery. Still, despite the tepidness of June, there were several developments and events that bear mentioning.

Solution Provider Product and Technology Roadmaps: Are They Important? [Plus+]

spend visiblity

The short answer to the question posed in the title is emphatically and definitively “yes” — now more than ever. When screening or evaluating technology solution providers for e-procurement, contract lifecycle management, vendor management systems (VMS) or any other solution, there is frequently an inherent present and backward-looking bias in evaluating and making decisions about these solutions. Considering only what solutions have done or are doing for their clients (and ex-clients) only tells so much about whether or not the solution is a good fit.

There are probably a number of reasons for this bias, including that it may have led to optimal decisions in the past because vendors often over-promised and only partially delivered. But in today’s world, this bias can handicap a procurement organization given the growing number of new solutions and rapid changes in technology. Whether intentional or not on the part of the solution provider, “adverse selection” may come into play here — to the detriment of all. By not knowing where a provider plans or intends to (or actually can) take its solution in the future, the buyer is missing crucial information that could result in a bad decision. Making sure that roadmaps are reviewed and analyzed is an important way to mitigate this risk.

In this Spend Matters PRO research brief, we explore this problem and make suggestions to support ways to move beyond it, including how to look at a provider’s product and technology maps from a 2017 cloud-era frame of reference. For those who are new to this topic, we start with the basics, providing an explanation of what vendor product and technology roadmaps are, what they should contain and what you should expect.

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The Future of MSPs: 3 Characteristics of Successfully Evolving Providers

The world of work continues to change, and managed service providers (MSPs) need to evolve to remain relevant. Gone are the days where enterprise contingent workforce programs required little more from MSPs than managing a base of temporary staffing suppliers, regulating contingent workforce spend, and enforcing baseline program compliance. Today, these programs must also be built to navigate an expanding contingent workforce ecosystem, guard against increasing regulatory risks, and integrate data and analytics to provide program value beyond simple costs savings.

Digital Service Providers: Do They Require Your Attention and Why? (Part 2) [Plus+]

crowdsourcing

In Part 1 of this series, we described and unpacked the topic of digital platform-based service providers, which represent a modest but growing spend category far outside of the scope of contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement programs. While they are not on procurement’s radar, Spend Matters believes these providers will increasingly become a significant part of organizations’ services consumption and spend over the next 10 years.

In Part 2, we review what is arguably the most successful sub-segment of these digital service providers, as well as revisit the question of whether they require your attention and why.

Next-Generation Digital Service Providers: The Who, What and Why for Services Procurement [Plus+]

An increasing number of digital, platform-based service providers are appearing today, and while they now represent a small category far outside the scope of most contingent workforce and services (CW/S) procurement programs, the spend they account for is growing.

Back around 2010, traditional BPO providers sought to introduce clients to digitally turbo-charged offerings. Though similar in concept, the providers appearing today represent a whole new generation of platform-based service providers, many of which were startups or didn’t exist in 2010. They did not arise with the scale and legacy of the BPO providers, nor did they occupy the category of major service providers of which procurement was aware and already oversaw.

Far from a passing fad, these next-generation digital service providers will become an increasingly significant segment of services consumption and spend over the next 10 years. We base our projections on solid, long-term trends evidenced in both the consumer and business sectors.

This Spend Matters Plus article defines this new generation of digital service providers and poses the entirely open question of whether they require the attention of procurement organizations tasked with managing services spend at this time. This question may be especially pertinent, given the significant similarities of digital service providers and traditional ones.

Beyond Contingent Workforce Management: Embracing an Agile Workforce

Today, when it comes to talent — especially highly skilled or expert talent — organizations are at the beginning of a new phase of workforce innovation. In the coming years, organizations will be going beyond the now well-established practice of sourcing external contingent workforce to augmenting or even replacing parts of their “permanent” employee workforce. The next phase of workforce organization innovation is embracing an agile workforce model.

From blur to Maistro: Can Services Procurement Get a Life? [PRO]

healthcare

We recently had a briefing and demo by U.K.-based Maistro, which describes itself as “an AI powered platform and dynamic B2B Marketplace that optimizes the way companies buy business services.” Formerly blur Group, the company became Maistro following a significant restructuring that took place over the second half of 2017. Spend Matters has followed the company since 2013, but our coverage tapered off over the last two years as the company's condition worsened. However, since Maistro has been operating under new leadership for almost a year now, it may be time to turn the page and start a new chapter in our coverage.

With a new tagline, “Accelerated Procurement,” Maistro goes-to-market as a procurement-oriented “managed services” solution with an integrated online marketplace that consists exclusively of vetted service supplier businesses (not freelancers). While Maistro does participate in the workforce/services game, its combined characteristics differentiate it from other online freelancer/services marketplaces, such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and others.

Nonetheless, the work/services platform space is emergent and consists of hundreds of providers, with many well-financed and still searching for the path that will lead to scale adoption by large enterprises. Consequently, it is difficult to predict which providers may find the cure or end up in a platform graveyard, if or when there is a market shakeout. One thing, however, can be said about Maistro: Despite having many near-death experiences over the last four years, it appears to be rallying — albeit with an uncertain prognosis.

Why the Staffing and Contingent Marketplace is Failing Procurement [Plus+]

In our prior analysis of the services procurement market, we looked at the evidence showing how the staffing marketplace is failing procurement organizations. Today, we turn our attention to the “why” and the factors holding organizations back from gaining more value from their services procurement spend. This value includes greater savings, of course, but also reduced risk, increased compliance, improved talent management and recovered time to focus on innovation, continuous improvement and business outcomes.

We are not purporting any grand conspiracy of sorts here. Rather, the fundamental challenge with services procurement and the staffing industry centers on a supplier-led industry dynamic that has been able to break free from the bounds of how procurement manages all other spend areas, directing the buy-side rather than having to adjust its own sell-side driven business to maturing procurement expectations and requirements.

In this Spend Matters Plus analysis, a refresh of our 2014 series, we consider the “why” of the problem and go beyond the standard “fox watching the henhouse” issues with the traditional MSP/staffing market. Finally, to conclude this series, we will offer a prescription for changing the market from the inside out with procurement-led initiatives.