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CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Try these innovative contingent workforce/services, mobile-first solutions to find help where you need it

In the contingent workforce and services (CW/S) category of Spend Matters’ Coronavirus Response series, our focus has been on solutions that are able to, at a minimum, help rapidly ramp up on-demand workers to deal with massive resource shortfalls.


We are examining four categories of relatively new types technology-enabled CW/S solutions for: (1) sourcing and managing remote/online work; (2) sourcing and managing mobile-equipped workers across geographical locations; (3) “direct sourcing;” (4) management of workers; and managing data and producing analytical outputs.


In this brief, we are shining a light on go-to solutions that get the right workers in the right spots at the right time: external platforms or networks for geo-specific, on-demand workforce/services that enable access to mobile-app, GPS-equipped, flexible labor/talent and services in specific geographic locations. 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 and paid through such a platform.


These types of solutions are offered providers by providers like Field Nation, RigUp and Wonolo — which are highlighted in this brief. But there are various other providers in this solution space, an emerging area that we’ll be covering further as it develops.


One important additional note: This area should be considered with a caveat in mind — under the current pandemic-related restrictions involved at most work sites, there may be some limitations in using these geo-specific, on-demand solutions when they involve non-essential workers. But in instances where “essential workers” are involved, these solutions could be very valuable in the current acute stage of the coronavirus crisis and increasingly in subsequent stages as the restrictions ease and economic activity increases non-uniformly across states, counties and cities.


Solution category overview: These external platforms or networks can be thought of as suppliers (but with many additional capabilities). They come in various shapes and forms. Some ways to frame the population of platforms/networks at a high level are:


  • Types of work/services: This is best thought of in terms of “work/services categories” and “industry applications.”
    • Work/services categories include:
      • Field tech workers
      • Warehouse workers
      • Oil/gas field workers
      • Retail merchandising workers
      • Food/hospitality workers
      • Home care workers
      • Delivery drivers
    • Industry applications can focus on certain industries like:
      • IT Manufacturing
      • Energy
      • Logistics
      • Retail
      • Others
    • Location of work/services providers: Worker/provider populations can be resident in different states, counties, metro areas and can deliver work/services in specific coverage areas.
    • Production/delivery and business models: Work and services can be produced, delivered and contracted for in a number of ways. The following are the two typical models, and platform/network providers sometimes support both:
      • Individual worker via a “spot market” platform/network: Individual contract workers can be engaged directly online in a spot market transaction and dispatched to a specific place of work. Workers are typically vetted to some extent, ranging historical rating to heavy vetting (including license, background checks, certification of insurance, etc.). Platform workers are equipped with the platform’s mobile app that supports geo-specific dispatching and tracking, visual proof and sign-off, “geo-fencing,” et al. Depending on the type of work/industry, work can be performed on a fixed fee or hourly basis. Pricing is typically a percentage of the billed amount; work tracking and invoicing and payment mechanisms are usually a part of the platform offering.
      • Service contract with a platform/network: Client organizations contract with the platform/network for more extensive use of the platform capabilities over a more extensive period of time. This can take at least two forms:
        • In the most basic form, the client organization contracts with the platform/network for a specific period, like a year, during which time various platform capabilities are available for use. That would include engaging workers via the platform/network. Very often, organizations are able to create and maintain their own “private talent pools” of preferred vendors, etc. Some platforms support multi-worker projects. Platforms can also be integrated with a client organization’s systems. Various value-added services may also be available. Pricing usually consists of some type of fixed use fee, transactional pricing for worker engagements (sometimes volume based) and additional fees for any value-added services.
        • The second form is typically a version of the first form, but adding larger-scale multi-worker program execution. A typical use case is a firm that has many geographically locations (e.g., offices, branches, etc.) and which needs to have a reliable, on-demand, geographically workforce (local workers) to deploy on as-needed basis. Additional service fees would apply for program implementation and management.

Field Nation

As part of the SolutionMap RFI process, Spend Matters continuously solicits customer references to determine a procurement technology provider’s placement on the ranking graphics. This is a Spend Matters curated summary of verified customer feedback for Field Nation, a SolutionMap-ranked provider.

Field Nation: Vendor Analysis (Part 2) — Product Strengths and Weaknesses

In the first of this three-part Spend Matters PRO series, we introduced you to Field Nation, a digital platform that enables companies and their managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of technical field services contractors, services providers and, recently, employees.

For a number of years, Field Nation has been providing what was basically a many-to-many online spot-buy marketplace. But last year, the company launched an enterprise-level, blended-workforce sourcing and management platform solution called Field Nation ONE, and that is the focus of this product evaluation.

Among other enterprise technology solutions that address independent contract workers (ICWs) and are featured in the Spend Matters ICW SolutionMap, Field Nation ONE stands out with laser-like focus in the field services vertical and its integrated proprietary marketplace of roughly 15,000 field service contractors in the U.S. and Canada. But while Field Nation ONE is an enterprise, S2P solution addressing the ICW work category, it is nonetheless a specialized one and needs to be evaluated on that basis. It also bears noting that Field Nation ONE is at the very beginning of its product maturity curve.

Part 1 of this Spend Matters PRO series provided company background and a detailed solution overview, plus a set of solution-fit considerations. In Part 2, we now cover what we see as the strengths and weaknesses of the solution as well as a rating of UI/UX. Part 3 will provide competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Field Nation: Vendor Analysis (Part 1) — Background & Solution Overview

SciQuest

Across the growing landscape of digital intermediation platforms for contingent workforce and services, practically no two platforms are entirely alike in terms of market focus, function, capabilities, solution offerings, etc. For the last five years, variety has been the spice of life in this space — and it will likely continue to be.

Within this diverse population, one can find providers of external online marketplaces, providers of enterprise (FMS-like) solutions to manage independent workforce, or providers of both.

Field Nation occupies this last category as a digital platform that, today, enables companies/managers to conduct “on-demand” sourcing, engagement, dispatch, management and payment of technical field services contractors, services providers and, recently, employees. Field Nation aims to address other categories of on-site work in the future.

Part 1 of this Vendor Snapshot series provides company background and a detailed solution overview, as well as a summary recommended fit for when organizations should consider Field Nation. Parts 2 and 3 will dive into product strengths and weaknesses, competitor and SWOT analyses, and insider evaluation and selection considerations.

Field Nation: What Makes It Great (Independent Contract Workers Analysis)

talent management

Field Nation offers a specialized enterprise technology solution and online marketplace that enables the sourcing, dispatching management and payment of independent field tech contractors. The provider competes in the enterprise solution category that Spend Matters’ SolutionMap calls Independent Contract Workers (ICW), the most dynamic segment of the contingent and workforce and services (CW/S) procurement software market, which also includes the Temp Staffing (Vendor Management Systems/VMS) and Contract Services/Statement of Work solution segments.

Today’s ICW solutions have their roots in the so-called gig, freelance and peer-to-peer economies — the new world of platforms, like Uber and Airbnb, versus the established world of enterprise software applications inhabited for decades by the likes of SAP and Oracle. Field Nation is a specialized solution that supports organizations (mostly service management companies, in addition to value-added resellers and sometimes OEMs) that are responsible for installing and maintaining technology/equipment across geographically dispersed business locations of technology/equipment owners/lessees.

Field Nation’s clients typically maintain a W2-employee field installation and maintenance workforce, but — to an extent — supplement it by sourcing and engaging independent field tech contractors in different locations through Field Nation’s online marketplace platform. Field Nation has recently augmented its enterprise functionality and services, branded Field Nation ONE, which is also its blended workforce management software. And it has plans to expand its work/expertise categories beyond technology/equipment.

Where does that offering fit into the burgeoning ICW market? As of September 2018, Spend Matters’ SolutionMap contains functional and customer satisfaction benchmarks on more than 50 vendors within the procurement software market, including six providers in the ICW segment. To understand where Field Nation stands out most and helps set the bar for the ICW segment — and why should this matter for procurement and HR organizations — let’s delve into the SolutionMap benchmark and explore what makes Field Nation great.

“What Makes It Great” is a recurring column that shares insights from each quarterly SolutionMap report for SolutionMap Insider subscribers. Based on both our rigorous evaluation process and customer reference reviews, each brief offers quick facts on the provider, describes where it excels, provides hard data on where it beats the SolutionMap benchmark and concludes with a checklist for ideal customer scenarios in which procurement, finance and supply chain organizations should consider it.