The Future of Work just turned a corner. Time to re-evaluate your VMS.

December 16, 2022

We work in a world transformed. A singular event – the deadliest pandemic in more than 100 years – generated a response from businesses worldwide that has forever altered the future of work.

Almost simultaneously, enterprises pivoted to a remote or hybrid workforce model and adopted virtual collaborative technology on an unprecedented scale. Companies fast-tracked their digital transformation initiatives to increase automation and reduce their dependency on manual processes.

 At the same time, enterprises worldwide ramped up their use of contingent workers to build an agile workforce that can be scaled quickly to respond to market challenges and economic uncertainties. Today, nearly half of the average workforce consists of non-employee workers.

Today's competitive differentiator is the extended workforce

In a recent report, Christopher Dwyer, Senior Vice President at Ardent Partners and Managing Director of the Future of Work Exchange, writes, “Prior to the pandemic, the competitive differentiator between enterprises was their supply chains. Today, with the global transformation of work and talent, it is the extended workforce and how it’s leveraged that separates the leaders from the laggards.”

 To manage this expanded non-employee workforce, Dwyer noted in a recent blog post, “businesses won’t just desire advanced technology…they’ll require it.”

What this means for companies that already have a VMS

The value of extended workforce technology should not surprise the 81% of companies with more than 1,000 employees who have adopted a vendor management system (VMS). But they may be surprised to find that, in today’s post-pandemic world, their VMS technology may be dangerously outdated. Technology that was “state-of-the-art” in the early 2000s and “good enough” in 2019 may no longer meet today’s strategic or operational requirements.

Beyond VMS: Technology to support new priorities

Twenty years ago, the primary concern for contingent workforce management (CWM) programs was to minimize the cost of external labor, most of which was then provided by temporary staffing “vendors.” To control these costs, businesses adopted vendor management systems (VMS).

 Over time, the CWM role grew more complex and more strategic, but cost control remained the top concern for most program owners until the pandemic. Then things changed. Cost control is still important, but today’s primary concerns are talent and speed – acquiring the best contingent talent quickly and managing them cost-effectively to achieve specific outcomes.

 It is no longer enough to depend on staffing vendors to “round up the usual suspects.” Businesses need “omni-channel” technology that can manage all sourcing channels and all categories of contingent labor – using analytics and “total talent intelligence” to determine the best mix of skills, rates, and timing to deliver the best outcome for each project or assignment.

Dynamic value of extended workforce platforms

In his Ardent Partners report, Dwyer describes the evolution of CWM technology as “agile automation,” which provides flexible functionality to meet the dynamic demands of the evolving workforce. 

According to Dwyer, by embodying this flexible functionality, a new generation of extended workforce platforms are capable of driving workforce agility, which leads to the post-pandemic goal of business agilitya true competitive advantage. These extended workforce platforms are not only the natural evolution of VMS, but in fact, “extend” the value and lifecycle of vendor management systems by:

  • Offering talent-centric functionality that addresses the candidate experience
  • Supporting a “platform approach” towards end-to-end workforce management
  • Connecting ecosystems of “peripheral” solutions
  • Traversing into the world of total talent intelligence

Each of these attributes adds significant value to a well-run contingent workforce program. And none of these attributes can be found in conventional VMS solutions

The time has come to re-evaluate your VMS

Contingent workforce management technology has changed more in the last three years than in the previous 20. If your organization is still using a traditional VMS – and particularly if you have been using the same VMS for 10 years or more – it is time to re-evaluate your technology and compare it against the best the market has to offer. You will be surprised by the differences you see in an extended workforce platform and what that could mean for your contingent workforce program and your company.

Download this ebook to learn more about the next generation of extended workforce management technology.