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The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: June 2020 [Plus +]

Welcome to the June 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.

May seems to have been a slow month in terms of new technology and innovation developments, with the exception of — perhaps not surprisingly — the freelancer/SMB neo-bank area. One possible explanation of this shift in attention of CW/S solution providers from expansion and innovation is that the coronavirus crisis has them focusing on customers and remaining a going concern. In any event, the June Hot List will cover the key developments that came across our radar last month.

Specialist Providers of Extended Workforce Rate Benchmarking and Analytics — Series Wrap-Up [PRO]

Back in December, we initiated a five-part series with a brief titled A new species: Specialist providers of contingent workforce rate benchmarking/analytics. In that brief, we identified three third-party (standalone, vendor-neutral) providers that are, broadly speaking, data management and analytics providers and establishing a framework for analyzing providers, capabilities and services from a business-buyer standpoint.

The subsequent three parts of the series reviewed and analyzed each of those providers — PeopleTicker, HCM Strategies and Brightfield (TDX) — and their solution offerings. While all three have been centered around salary and rate benchmarking service/capabilities, they have also extended, to greatly varying degrees, their workforce-related analytics offerings. (See their Vendor Analysis profiles here, here and here.)

In this fifth and final part of the series, we synthesize our findings and provide insights into the market and the differences among the vendors. Spoiler alert: The three providers are quite different and will variously fit different types of organizations with different needs. We also discuss our research approach, moving forward on a broader basis.

When we started this series in December 2019, we could not have imagined what would lie ahead of us and where the world economy, businesses and workers would be now. But we are certain that we are entering a new economic and business environment in which data and analytics will be far more critical than ever.

Our perspective on this situation is reflected in our ongoing series (Coronavirus affects the world of work — How can businesses cope with the COVID-19 outbreak? (Part 1) and Coronavirus affects the world of work (Part 2): Facing the next phase of the crisis); and the importance of workforce data and analytics in this crisis period is discussed in this CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE series brief.

The Contingent Workforce and Services (CW/S) Insider’s Hot List: May 2020 [Plus +]

This month’s Hot List clearly shows that April was certainly one in which developments and innovation were not dampened amid the COVID-19 crisis. As they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” We’ll let you decide if that has been the case in our industry ecosystem as you read our Hot List coverage.

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Workforce data and analytics in a time of crisis [PRO]

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 extended workforce to deal with resource shortfalls as well as manage and track as well as track and manage external workers, projects and services providers.

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 of workforce and services; (4) and managing data and producing analytical outputs.

In this brief, we turn to third-party digital solutions for data management and analytics that organizations can use in a number of ways to cost-effectively source and manage their extended workforce (contingent workers and service providers’ workers). These solutions collect, manage and process large amounts of market data — and sometimes procurement data — and generate different types of value-added outputs for a variety of purposes.

A selection of data management and analytics solution providers — PeopleTicker, Brightfield (TDX) and ENGAGE Talent (a Workforce Logiq company) — will be highlighted below. This list, however, is not exhaustive.

The overall series addresses seven categories of technology solutions that can help in a crisis:

  1. Supply risk management solutions that include supply chain risk, CSR risk, supplier financial risk, etc. (Read this category’s PRO analysis and solution recommendations here.)
  2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing, automated supplier discovery, and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source. (This category was updated April 23 and is discussed in-depth here.)
  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 was updated April 22 and is available here.)
  4. Procure to Pay (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. (See details about this category here. It was updated April 24.)
  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. (Its profile for this series is here.)
  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. (Read in-depth detail on this category here.)
  7. Contingent Workforce and Services: See the four items mentioned above.

These data management and analytics solution solutions that we’re examining today also typically provide market rate benchmarking to ensure bill rate optimization as well as insights into labor markets/sources. When it comes to rate benchmarking, solutions generally address both CWs/MSP as well as permanent employees.

The solutions can support organizations in optimizing their contingent workforce management programs based on data and key metrics and benchmark programs against other programs (in the aggregate). Some providers offer capability to cost out and price SOW projects. Some providers go further.

Organizations may find these solutions more useful than ever if they are anticipating using more contingent workforce or services or have more churn in those areas — or want to get a better total talent perspective on extended and permanent workforce roles in the organization and their compensation costs. In the current coronavirus environment, organizations will be looking fundamentally into all segments of their workforces to get what the organization needs to do business, while being as cost efficient as possible.

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE: Contingent Workforce/Services — Can direct sourcing of work and services help in this crisis? [PRO]

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 extended workforce to deal with resource shortfalls as well as manage and track external workers, projects and services providers.

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.

The overall series addresses seven categories of technology solutions that can help in a crisis:

  1. Supply risk management solutions that include supply chain risk, CSR risk, supplier financial risk, etc. (Read this category’s PRO analysis and solution recommendations here.)
  2. Sourcing and commodity management, including advanced sourcing, direct sourcing, automated supplier discovery, and commodity management to help dynamically plan and source. (This category was updated April 23 and is discussed in-depth here.)
  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 was updated April 22 and is available here.)
  4. Procure to Pay (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. (See details about this category here. It was updated April 24.)
  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. (Its profile for this series is here.)
  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. (Read in-depth detail on this category here.)
  7. Contingent Workforce and Services: See the four items mentioned above.

In this brief, we turn to solutions for direct sourcing of workforce/services: enterprise solutions that enable businesses to “direct source” (without using staffing supply chain) and engage/manage their own affiliated (bring-your-own) contract workers and specialized service providers in private resource pools. These solutions typically take the form of horizontal, standalone software applications, while some digital work/services platforms are tightly coupled with their own front-end “direct sourcing” enterprise application (e.g., Upwork Enterprise). In the context of this brief, we will focus on the direct sourcing solutions that are horizontal, standalone software applications.

A selection of direct sourcing solution providers — WorkMarket (an ADP company), TalentNet and Shortlist — will be highlighted below. This list, however, is not exhaustive. Before you see the profiles of example solutions, we'll discuss this category of solutions, problems and use cases, and the solution rationale and value.

Coronavirus affects the world of work (Part 2): Facing the next phase of the crisis [PRO]

Part 2 of this Spend Matters PRO series will focus on where things stand with the coronavirus crisis about a month since many countries and most U.S. states issued stay-at-home orders. It also has been about a month since the publication of Part 1 of this series. Now, governments are considering plans for “re-opening” the economy that they will likely start executing in mid- to late May. Part 2 of this series will discuss approaching the transition/mitigation phase of the crisis. And it will consider how the challenges and priorities may be shifting for enterprise planners and human capital managers in procurement and HR.

This PRO coronavirus series is being posted outside our subscription paywall to inform more readers about handling contingent workforce/services issues during the coronavirus crisis.

In the middle of March, we published Part 1, in which we suggested that organizations, reacting to what eventually became a shutdown of major swaths of the U.S. economy, might begin thinking about the crisis in terms of four stages. We also suggested they begin thinking about relatively new, alternative digital solutions for sourcing and managing contingent workforce/services, given a new business environment that is both highly uncertain and subject to new constraints. (For more details, read Part 1.)

We made these suggestions to reinforce that:

* This crisis is not a one-time emergency to be stanched, but an unfolding of conditions over months, if not years.
* There is an opportunity — or a compelling force — to re-examine previous assumptions, strategies, approaches.
* There are alternative, digital means of sourcing and managing CW/S that can complement established technology and sourcing channels

We are continuing to recommend solutions for sourcing and managing CW/S in the “CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE” PRO series (here and here). At the same time, this series (“Coronavirus affects the world of work”) will continue to discuss problems and solutions, issues and opportunities over the different stages of the crisis.

We believe it is helpful to break down the coronavirus disruption into four crisis/post-crisis stages in order to discuss how different solutions can be usefully applied (or planned for):

* Reactive/acute
* Transition/mitigation
* Recovery/upswing
* Long-run/business-as-usual

Let’s jump into Part 2, and look at the transition/mitigation phase of the coronavirus crisis.

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

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

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.

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

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.

Five Scenarios for VMS 2025: Scenario 2 — Procurement Rules [PRO]

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.

Category Analytics and Intelligence Providers: Defining and Exploring a Nascent Market for Procurement Solutions (Part 3 — Labor/Services and Transportation) [PRO]

Accurate intelligence and benchmarks on goods and services are essential to effective sourcing, yet few procurement organizations have comprehensive coverage for all data sources across all categories that they manage. So to help practitioners get a better lay of the category intelligence and analytics landscape, Spend Matters has begun a market scan of technology, data/benchmarking and cost-modeling providers that deliver “category analytics and intelligence” to procurement and other functions. And while few firms in the nascent mega market are perfectly alike, our initial findings have convinced us that category analytics and intelligence could become one of the most important provider markets for procurement to deliver best-in-class performance in the 2020s.

This four-part Spend Matters PRO brief provides an introduction to category analytics and intelligence market and an overview of select providers by category. Part 1 of this series defined what exactly the market consists of, potential ways to segment it, and a basic framework for comparing vendors within and across sectors. Part 2 provided an overview of providers in the direct materials, indirect materials and cross-category specialist (direct and indirect) sectors. This installment (Part 3) covers labor/services and transportation. Part 4 will cover IT, marketing and should-cost solutions.

Category specific providers mentioned in this brief include: Avetta, Bodhala, Chainalytics, Coupa, Brightfield TDX, DAT Solutions, HCM Strategies, Jaggaer, SAP Live Insights, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA), TenderEasy, Trax Group and Sisense.

HCM Strategies: Vendor Analysis — Solution Overview, SWOT, Tech Selection Tips [PRO]

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 [Plus +]

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.