Beeline buys OnForce, VMS market a hive of activity …

Beeline are part of the huge Adecco staffing group, but operate independently as a leading international provider of Vendor Management Software (VMS), used by clients to manage their contingent labour programmes. Earlier this month, they announced the acquisition of US based firm, OnForce. As our US based Spend Matters colleagues said, OnForce are:

“... one of a select group of vendors on the periphery of the vendor management system (VMS) market targeting the recruiting, on-boarding and management of what are best known as “freelancers” in the global talent market. Terms of the deal were not announced, but we expect it was a strategic rather than a financial-led acquisition (i.e., the transaction was not just a question of adding accretive revenue) which would suggest a premium multiple on revenue”.

OnForce will form part of Beeline's portfolio of workforce solutions, which include a vendor management system (VMS), Ellegro learning solutions (ELS) and now OnForce freelancer management system (FMS). Beeline claim this puts them in a strong market position:

Unlike anyone else serving the extended workforce market, Beeline and OnForce will provide a comprehensive technology solution which values the needs of the entire ecosystem: the talent, client, suppliers, managed service provider, and independent contractor service providers”.

The growth in the use of contingent (temporary) labour workforces has been strong in recent years, especially in the US. It has been a more variable situation across Europe, where there has been more legislation to control the use of temporary staff. But it looks like a trend everywhere, as organisations demand more flexibility and look to convert a fixed cost base to a more variable one. And as that has developed, firms are increasingly looking to be more sophisticated in how they manage their contingent talent, and now with added focus o the “skilled independent worker”.

For instance, firms might consider the pool of former employees (alumni) who might now be freelance, friends of employees, people who have worked as temps previously for the firm – these are some of the talent pools that might offer obvious advantages over random external labour. Such people will know the firm better, may be already vetted and approved, could well be of higher quality than random outsiders, and may be able and willing to come back and work on multiple occasions over the years.

So firms such as OnForce have developed software to help manage this labour pool, arguing that this requires a somewhat different approach to the usual VMS platform, which perhaps applies more to a situation where staff are coming through traditional agencies.

This whole area is one of considerable overlap between procurement and HR. It is people (HR) but it is also external “suppliers” (procurement). And given its growth, it is a spend category where most procurement functions will want to be involved. So it’s worth keeping an eye on developments here, and we’ll be back with some further thoughts on this whole “skilled independent worker” issue shortly.

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