Pharmaceutical builds quick contingent team to create COVID-19 vaccine

January 13, 2022

A global pharmaceutical company at the forefront of developing the COVID-19 vaccine had relied on contingent labour for a number of years, with Beeline supplying its vendor management system (VMS).

Contingent workers proved to be vital in the effort to build a team with the capacity to create a vaccine at an unprecedented speed. More than half (52%) of life sciences human capital and C-suite leaders surveyed by talent advisors, Randstad Sourceright, said talent scarcity had the biggest impact on their business.

The company’s contingent program leaders had long been hearing about how direct sourcing could turbocharge contingent role-filling. With this method, companies build up a pool of pre-selected freelance, contingent, or temporary workers, eliminating the need for intermediaries such as recruiters or other third-party agencies. Direct sourcing reduces costs and the time to fill roles as well as improving access to talent.

But there was no impetus from senior management for the team to investigate something untested until a new company CEO issued a mission statement in 2018. This encouraged all business and functional units to increase their use of automation.

With senior leadership endorsement and Beeline’s technology, the team could reallocate resources to test and ultimately roll out a direct sourcing programme that could be a game changer.
The contingent labour team set itself a target of filling 20% of all contingent labor roles by direct sourcing as a “moonshot” (year+) goal.

Beeline was the lynchpin

The company has three programmes for which it uses contingent workers: a light industrial programme, payrolling programme, and for professional contingent labour the company worked under a managed service provider (MSP) model with the VMS. The programme is vendor-neutral and managed regionally.

It had been using Beeline’s VMS since 2015 and hiring managers were familiar with the environment.
Traditionally, the VMS records jobs requisitions and distributes them to suppliers under the MSP, facilitates candidate selection, schedules interviews and allows for the down-selection of resumes.

After the offer is made, the MSP reaches out to the vendor for the successful candidate, creating a purchase order and time-keeping mechanism. Hours are logged on Beeline and can be easily exported to an invoice for simplicity.

As a result, the pharmaceutical company decided to nest the direct sourcing programme within the successful existing infrastructure.

Getting the ball rolling

To get the programme underway back in 2018, the company brought onboard two new partners to work with Beeline and each other.

TalentNet liaises with Beeline to distribute job requests to jobs boards so candidates in the talent pool could see and apply for them.

Their resume would then go forward to a “curating partner” in staffing firm, Atrium, which would oversee the output of the AI (directly sourced candidates) run by TalentNet.

It puts forward candidates for contingent labour positions in a competitive environment and on Beeline’s VMS. It also does recruiting for the talent pool.

To trial the initiative, the company started in the US, creating a pool of bench scientists and researchers, temporary roles the company hires for more frequently than any other.

Quick wins to full rollout

Kicking off in September 2019, the company got results, filling roles from its direct sourcing pool within the first few months of implementation.

At the same time, the team decided to make a few tweaks to tighten up roles and responsibilities via a flow chart. This also detailed constituent turnaround processes such as times for submission to shortlisting and manager response times.

It also decided to meet partners both monthly and quarterly to keep an eye on the programme’s progress, share news from the marketplace and ensure that participants tackle any confusion or hurdles that might otherwise get in the way.

The programme grew with the direct sourcing of bench scientists across the US in the second quarter. By the end of June, following implementation, direct sourcing was an option for all roles across the US and Puerto Rico.

When last reported, the company had met more than half of its moonshot goal with at least 11% (if not more) contingent labour roles filled by direct sourcing. Having Beeline’s VMS in place as a tried and tested means of managing suppliers helped them to source and navigate a steady stream of contingent workers equipped with the requisite skills when it was needed. And the success came just in time for the push to develop a COVID vaccine. Beeline is certainly proud of playing a role in this achievement.

Take data-driven strategic decisions using a VMS

Beeline’s VMS provided the pharmaceutical company with data and analytics tools that make it easy to track and manage the activities and performance of workers and vendors.

In this case, Beeline created a seamless experience for hiring managers even as the contingent labour team moved to a direct sourcing model. They found the environment highly configurable for allowing them to give 48 hours’ exclusivity to fill a role with some suppliers before it was distributed to others.

To hear the thoughts of the teams that used it, and to get the full, comprehensive story, you can watch our webinar – where you can hear from the pharmaceutical company themselves on how they were able to manage this unprecedented situation with our extended workforce platform.