IQNavigator – Supporting Better Management of the Contingent Workforce

Contingent labourFor some, procurement of services has in the past been a second-class citizen to direct manufacturing-type procurement. Not for me – despite starting in food manufacturing, I was then CPO for three organisations that had no manufacturing and for which you might say everything was an “indirect.” Certainly, services were absolutely key – whether IT, professional services, or specialist public sector-type services.

But recently, the whole area of people-based professional services, ranging through temporary staff to “SOW” (statement of works) type engagements through to strategic consulting services, has moved into a greater position of prominence. That is largely because organisations are spending more and more in these categories, as there has been a move away from employing staff to taking on people via external firms and agencies. So we’ve seen more focus on best procurement practices in these areas and on the software to support such activities.

One of the two or three leading software firms in this market (often termed VMS or “vendor management services)” is IQNavigator. We caught up with them recently for an update about their recent developments, product strategy and roadmap. Their team told us that they started with a simple (but ambitious) question – “How do we re-invent the industry”?

Their aims to answer that question include moving beyond software that is simply a “system of record;” supporting multiple types of workers across multiple geographies; helping users to make “data-driven” decisions through embedded analytics and performance data.

Their user interface is built on a new platform, and has a mobile-friendly, responsive design. But the most notable feature is how the system helps the user though the decision-making process in terms of finding the appropriate human resources. So if you select "project manager" for instance, the system will present you with sub-categories that you can choose from. It will also suggest some key attributes that you may want to define as part of the requirement - core skills such as budgeting or project planning perhaps.

Once the user has selected skills, the system then suggests job titles (based on historical information from IQN and their clients). It also provides the expected hourly rate you might pay for that role and the expected fill-time. Hence you can see if you are choosing a hard-to-find, likely-to-be-expensive role and job title. Choose a job title, and the system provides a full range of attributes which can be selected, and then actually generates the job description. You can also look at the likely different pay rates by location - very useful if you deciding at which facility a new role or team should be based.

It's all a very impressive example of what we might call artificial intelligence - or "guided buying" at the very least. The job description then goes out to agencies and the next step of the process continues.

There are other interesting aspects of the new platform, including customisable workflows for onboarding. The recent trend for organisations to look to make more use of talent pools such as alumni or personal contacts is reflected too; and the area of performance management is being addressed too, with some very interesting ideas on the IQNavigator roadmap for implementation soon. We may well come back to some of those features in more detail another day.

Complex Services procurement, and management of contingent workforce and related spend areas is still relatively new for many procurement organisations. It's clear that the systems and platforms available to support those professional and personal service categories are developing at a rapid rate, with IQNavigator one of the leading firms driving those improvements.

It's also another case where procurement can and should demonstrate its worth by getting familiar with the tools available, so don't wait for HR to come and tell you that they're putting in a system - get on the front foot now!

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