7 Ways to Improve Your Contingent Workforce Program (CWP)...Right Now

March 12, 2015

How can you improve your contingent workforce program (CWP) as fast as possible?

Now, key members of your organization may be contingent workers. In fact, according to Oracle, “Managing workers who are strategically important to the success of the organization (but not necessarily directly employed) is difficult to get right, but when done well, it can really drive business performance.” That makes getting tangible results from a CWP even more important.

Unfortunately, many professionals are struggling to manage their contingent workforce program in a way that produces measurable results that help achieve organizational objectives. We examined what leading HR and procurement professionals are doing to get results. By sharing what we have learned, we hope that other HR and procurement professionals can model that success. Imagine getting all the benefits of a successful CWP without all the trial-and-error. It is completely within your reach, and we want to help you get there as fast as possible. To do so, you must approach managing your CWP the right way.

What a 1930s aviator can teach you about managing a CWP

In 1927, a 25-year-old U.S. Air Mail pilot earned the Medal of Honor and instant worldwide celebrity by flying 3,600 miles nonstop from New York to Paris, France. The Lone Eagle, better known as Charles Lindbergh, was the first person ever to be in New York one day and Paris the next.

Lindbergh's record-setting flight inspired another young man named Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan. Encouraged by Lindbergh's success, Corrigan decided to duplicate it and selected Ireland as his goal. Unfortunately, officials decided that both his plan and his plane were not up to the task and they rejected his flight plan. Shortly after, Corrigan flew from Long Beach, California, to Brooklyn, New York. Instead of returning to Long Beach per his filed flight plan, the young pilot took off headed in the “wrong” direction and made a 28-hour and 13-minute, trans-Atlantic flight from the U.S. to Ireland!

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of his journey is, unlike Lindbergh's fancy plane (which Corrigan helped build during his “day job” as a mechanic), Corrigan's plane was a piece of junk. He fastened the door with a piece of baling wire. The reserve gasoline tanks left him cramped inside the plane with no legroom. He mounted his fuel tanks in the front of the plane, leaving him only the side windows to see out. He could not see the ground when landing. He had no radio, few (if any) instruments, and his compass was 20 years old. His provisions for the 28-hour, 13-minute flight included two chocolate bars, two boxes of fig bars, and 25 gallons of water.

People could not get enough of the amazing story of the daring pilot who flew from the U.S. to Ireland using only his own instincts. He came home to a bigger ticker-tape parade than Lindbergh's. Books, product endorsements, and even a movie soon followed. Against all odds, Wrong Way Corrigan made it, but he was a skilled mechanic and aviator who devoted 13 years and all his money to learning how to fly. Even accounting for his skill, he was lucky.

You may want to emulate the success of other organizations' CWPs. Unlike Corrigan, HR and procurement professionals who manage contingent workforce programs should not fly by the seat of their pants.

Managing a CWP has enough challenges

Why make it harder?

In Corrigan's day, airplanes did not have instruments, a radio, or other “luxuries.” He simply had to do the best he could. Many organizations take a similar approach when managing their contingent workforce. They “make do” without using technology and other available resources. Why fly by the seat of your pants when you can have help?

TLNT's Erinn Jacobson notes, “Contingent workers are often managed piecemeal by separate departments using different vendors and various processes. The result can be a fragmented system that opens a company up to inefficiencies and compliance risks. Fortunately, a better way exists.

The “right way” to manage your contingent workforce program

So, what is the right way to manage your contingent workforce program?

Successful organizations are taking a “best practices” approach to contingent workforce management. Here are seven tips you can use to improve your program.

  1. Find out where you stand. You may want to start with a CW audit to understand the current state and then design a plan based on desired results. For example, start with the program team and see what type of talent you have. You can also survey the client (internal and/or external) and identify gaps and opportunities.
  2. Make sure your procurement team is fully staffed. According to ProcureCon, “More than 1/2 of survey respondents (56%) said their team wasn't fully staffed.” How can your CWP be successful without enough boots on the ground? Your goal should be to always have the “right people, (in the) right places, (with the) right skillset...not just bodies at desks.”
  3. Have a plan to become a client of choice for contingents. A recent survey found fewer than 30% of employers have such a plan. This could include development plans for contingent employees, coaching, or better communication. Many of today's contingent workers are highly skilled and have their pick of where to work. Why should they choose your organization?
  4. Review your processes and procedures. Onboarding is a process that is especially critical for companies that use contingent workforce solutions due to the large volume of new hires. Consider using performance assessments as part of contingent quality control.
  5. Get everyone on the same page. As mentioned earlier, a concern for many organizations is that managers and departments hire temporary workers on their own. Not only are they circumventing oversight, they are often missing opportunities to reduce cost by using preferred vendor arrangements. That is why all stakeholders of your CWP should be working together.
  6. Use every available resource. Use tools to manage your CWP more effectively. This includes cloud-based analytical platforms and SaaS solutions. Partnering with a vendor that understands your business goals, company culture, and what you're trying to achieve can also be helpful. According to PeopleFluent, it is important to find “alignment with the organization's strategic interests.”
  7. Approach CWM strategically. Contingent workforce management is not a standalone program. Every aspect of your program should be in alignment with the organization's strategic interests. Using detailed analytics can help keep you on the right track.

What have you done to fast track your contingent program's success? Join the conversation by tweeting us @BeelineVMS.