A debate’s been raging, as to whether human resources (HR) or procurement should be responsible for managing an organization’s non-employee or flexible workforce program. There are proponents of both sides and there are benefits and drawbacks to choosing one or the other.

Who should run a flexible workforce program — procurement or human resources?

The background of the procurement/HR power struggle

Historically, procurement, or purchasing departments have basically run the show when it comes to managing temporary workers and independent contractors. As the company officials responsible for buying the supplies a company needs to operate, procurement has experience in process engineering, negotiation, and cost savings. They also have a thorough understanding of market-based rates and market supply and demand.

Typically, when procurement isn’t in charge of running the flexible workforce program it falls under the realm of human resources.

Human resources professionals understand the ins and outs of the hiring process, including how to interview and evaluate candidates. Many times HR is more in tune with the internal customer and familiar with their objectives. HR may also know more about the costs of the current labor market and what it takes to attract and retain the best candidate. Human resources has experience in worker sourcing, vetting, compensation, training, as well as performance management.

What do you really need to know to decide who runs this workforce program?

According to a recent Staffing Industry Analysts survey, procurement is in charge more than 53 percent of the time, HR is in charge 35 percent of the time, and operations, IT or finance manage the process the rest of the time.

So who should manage the flexible workforce program in your organization? The short answer: it depends.

When using non-employee workers, a business has to manage complicated details of spend, management and compliance during the different stages of the workers’ life cycle. Every facet of the workers’ experience from sourcing to off-boarding has to be managed with an eye towards the company’s overall strategy and the bottom line.

The truth is that whoever “owns” your flexible workforce program, be certain to get input from everyone involved – procurement, human resources and internal clients. Although one group or person will ultimately be accountable, an effective flexible workforce program is built on the expertise and experience of all stakeholders.

Both functions house expertise and specializations needed for a successful flexible workforce management program. The leadership of the flexible workforce program may shift as the program matures. The bottom line is that understanding the essential reasons for using a flexible workforce program is the first step towards determining who should be in charge of the program.

Things to consider when balancing your flexible workforce program

  • What program is currently in place to help manage your non-employee labor force?
  • What are the objectives and benefits of each using HR? Procurement?
  • Identify and understand the critical elements that define your flexible workforce program.
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