Non-Traditional Talent to Solve Non-Traditional Problems – Optimizing the External Workforce

If ever there was a negative stigma placed on the external workforce, it’s disappearing now as business leaders recognize the many benefits of incorporating niche, specialized skill sets into their workforce mix. In fact, 92 percent of enterprises now agree that non-traditional workers are an important aspect of corporate strategy.

The importance placed on the external workforce by business leaders is stronger today than it has ever been. The skills gap is widening in nearly every industry, particularly healthcare, IT, marketing and finance, leaving companies scrambling to fill vital roles. Making things more complicated, the skills required of these workers are becoming highly specialized,but contingent labor can quickly meet these needs. With less time spent on training new hires, flexible workers are also able to get up to speed quickly and tackle difficult projects efficiently.

As more hiring managers look to non-traditional labor to solve workplace challenges, what can they do to optimize that flexible workforce? Here are some options.

Increase Collaboration across the External Workforce Supply Chain via Standardization
A key to collaboration is transparency across the entire external workforce supply chain via a standard process for communication across all users — from internal stakeholders including procurement, human resources and hiring teams, to staffing firms who submit candidates, down to the workers themselves. Unfortunately, less than half of enterprises currently have an automated process in place.

A vendor management system (VMS) can provide transparency into a company’s flexible workforce processes by automating the way an organization engages with its external labor. By acting as a single system of collaboration, VMS technology enables companies tocreate more efficient processes, enforce compliance, improve worker quality and significantly reduce costs. Organizations using a VMS can expect the following:

  • Manual processes are streamlined and automated, allowing stakeholders and users to focus on more strategic initiatives.
  • Risk is mitigated as the VMS verifies that workers are compliant with organizational and legal regulations.
  • Organizations are assured they’re engaging with the most talented workers for contingent and services-based engagements by getting access to candidates from multiple staffing firms.
  • Hiring managers gain visibility into market rates and are able to pay the lowest rate for the best candidates.

PREMIUM CONTENT: Service Differentiators Report – VMS Initial Findings

Drive User Adoption of your VMS
Ongoing user education is key to successfully incorporating a new technology system within a business process and driving user adoption.The initial change management and training process is arguably the most important step as this sets the stage for usability and accessibility of the tool. Then, flexible workforce program owners must create a process by which to communicate clear policies, practices and changes to all potential users of the system.

A complementary component to driving user adoption is creating an identifiable program brand, as it promotes the value of the VMS across an entire organization.Although it may seem obvious, a uniform name should be given to users for the program, the tool and the team.This significantly helps to create consistency in a world of product updates, innovation and change.

Prepare to Expand Across the Company
Once a VMS is deployed within an organization, it’s important to establish a clear plan for expansion to additional business units, specific locations or worker types. A VMS’ reporting functionality enables the program office, whether managed internally or outsourced to a managed service provider (MSP) to uncover program trends and anomalies to ultimately make strategic decisions about program expansion. For example, the VMS might show that a company is spending far above average market rates for a particular worker type. In that case, the company might want to expand the program to additional locations that most frequently source that particular worker to quickly get spending under control.

The program office is key in helping a company to expand its use of a VMS. It can ensure that local cultural nuances, including those of a specific office location, department within an office or even a specific business unit, are taken into consideration.For those companies that are expanding across wider geographical borders, the program office’s knowledge of local business operations and worker laws can help organizations ensure compliance.

A truly optimized external workforce program will be able to operate all around the world and, via a VMS, maintain standardized onboarding, invoicing and other processes for engaging with flexible workers. To achieve this,each regional expansion effort must have a clear change management process that has executive sponsorship, local leader support and cultural understanding.

These three strategies are the backbone to a successful external workforce program. As organizations find themselves in need of highly specialized talent, it’s becoming less of a want and more of a demand for procurement and HR executives to address how to efficiently manage this non-traditional talent to achieve business objectives.

MORE: The benefit of an integrated VMS


Arun Srinivasan

Arun Srinivasan
Arun Srinivasan is VP of marketing and strategy at Fieldglass. He can be reached at asrinivasan (at) fieldglass (dot) com.

Arun Srinivasan

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