I n recent years, the primary goal of most contingent workforce management programs has shifted dramatically from spend control to talent acquisition.

This stems directly from procurement and HR executives’ commitment to make CWM more “strategic” in order to increase its value to the organization.

In today’s on-demand economy, talent has become one of the greatest concerns for executives who fear their organizations may not have the skills and flexibility to respond rapidly to market changes and opportunities. So it is not surprising that, according to one recent survey, 74% of businesses prioritize skills and talent over cost and take a talent-first approach to overall staffing.

Reflecting this strategic shift in CWM strategy, we identified the Top 3 Priorities for CWM programs expressed at the recently concluded Beeline Conference in Amelia Island, Florida:

Priority 1: Get Ahead of Services Procurement

Statement of Work (SOW) based services constitute the largest component of most organizations’ non-employee workforce. Yet many companies fail to account for these resources in their contingent workforce programs. This lack of visibility and management creates significant compliance and security risks.

Consequently, according to the research cited above, 81% of procurement, HR, talent acquisition, and other business leaders consider services procurement among their highest CWM priorities for 2019.

For organizations without centralized SOW tracking and management, the goal should be to capture these contracts (and the workers that go with them) – now! It is not that difficult, especially if you are already using a full-featured Vendor Management System (VMS) to acquire, track, and manage your contingent staffing.

For those who currently manage their SOWs using a VMS, the top priority is to take full advantage of VMS capabilities. Functionality is now available to make services procurement faster, more efficient, and less expensive. Just ask your VMS provider whether your system lets you manage your competitive bidding process. Does it include templates and versioning to manage SOW negotiations to your specifications rather than your vendors’? Does it give you the ability to manage independent contractors (ICs) within the VMS? These are just a few VMS capabilities that can help you take charge of ALL of your contingent workforce, not just a fraction of it.

As noted by Colleen Tiner, Beeline’s senior vice-president of strategy, there has been a nearly 140% increase in adoption of Beeline’s SOW/services procurement functionality over the past five years. “With the importance of services procurement, we knew it was only a matter of time before we would see the adoption we’re seeing now,” she said at this year’s Beeline Conference.

Priority 2: Put More “Intelligence” into Talent Acquisition

With the growing scarcity of talent, CWM programs need to exploit new, alternative options for finding and engaging contingent workers. They need to search both further afield and closer to home – and not rely on traditional staffing channels alone.

One of the most effective alternative talent sources is a Private Talent Pool. Private talent pools allow you to leverage your brand equity in attracting, curating, and engaging top talent from a wide variety of sources – retirees, alumni, former interns, “silver medalist” job candidates, and other pre-identified talent. Smart companies are using talent pools to successfully engage with candidates directly at a reduced cost compared to traditional channels. With its built-in cost and time-to-fill advantages, we expect talent pools to become the Number 1 talent acquisition resource for our clients within five years. The sooner you get started, the better your results and the greater the savings for your company.

Another important weapon in the war for talent is AI. While this initialism usually represents “artificial intelligence,” in the world of talent acquisition, we prefer to interpret it as “augmented intelligence.”

We believe recruitment of permanent and contingent talent is too important to be left to machines alone. In fact, research has shown that machine learning without human intervention not only fails to eliminate bias in talent evaluation, but may even increase bias over time.

Our “augmented intelligence” approach to AI, on the other hand, applies machine learning, natural language processing, knowledge graphs, and other advanced techniques to support and augment human activities by sifting quickly through masses of connected data to understand concepts and infer meaning so that our systems can better respond to a human user’s inquiry. Meanwhile, machine learning accumulates more contextual knowledge with each conversation.

“AI should be about educating, not removing, decisions,” Tiner said in discussing the platform’s new job description optimizer, which leverages various sources of information to build deeper descriptions, going beyond simple skills and prerequisites to include “soft skills” and emotional intelligence factors.

“Within 10 years, 90% of companies will collect all non-employees in one AI-powered system,” Tiner predicted. “You can get a head start if you act now.”

Priority 3: If You’re Not Moving Forward, You’re Being Left Behind

As Beeline’s president Doug Leeby told attendees at the 2019 Beeline Conference, “The fundamental problems of 20 years ago in the VMS and MSP world were to bring order, sense, efficiency, and cost savings to the table in a way that served our clients best. Today, it’s all about the importance of the business outcome. Talent is pivotal to the organization, the economy, and the world.”

If your CWM program is still focused on solving 20-year-old problems, it is time to move on. Even if you are solving them successfully, these solutions are just the starting point today for what your program can and should accomplish.

Here is a short checklist to review with your stakeholders, your MSP, and your VMS provider:

  • Does your program cover all worker types and geographical locations?
  • Is your contingent workforce incorporated into your organization’s holistic strategic workforce planning?
  • Do you have consistent governance and coordinated program stewardship across all stakeholders, skills, and markets?
  • Do you have complete and granular visibility of all contingent workforce data that enables actionable decision support?
  • Is your CW program management repeatable, scalable, and flexible enough to support any internal and external changes?

 

As the non-employee workforce becomes a stronger component of the Future of Work, the convergence of CWM technology and the concept of workforce optimization becomes that much more important.

“We need to try to understand the right mix of talent and technology to accentuate the best possible outcomes for businesses,” Leeby said at Beeline Conference, citing the company’s talent-first mentality coupled with a commitment to digital transformation as its core guiding principles.

Colleen Tiner added, “We want to create a VMS experience that helps you adapt to a future state of work that we cannot envision yet.”

For more information, contact us or your Beeline representative.

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