The Road to CWM Maturity: Overcoming Obstacles on the Path

In the first part of this series, I discussed evaluating your business’s current maturity level as the first step towards talent optimization.

The labor and staffing challenges faced by employers in recent years have caused contingent workforce management to rise to the top of many organizations’ priority lists. As talent acquisition teams have turned to non-traditional workers in record numbers to overcome market challenges, many have hoped to better integrate these individuals into their processes.

As a result, CWM programs have seen significant investments from businesses hoping to optimize and unify their workforces. With contingent workforces growing and analytics tools advancing, the features that define strong, mature CWM have shifted, causing leaders to realize that making ad hoc investments in tools may not be a recipe for success. That’s where Magnit’s contingent workforce management maturity curve comes in.

The curve — which outlines the stages of integrated CWM programs — can serve as a useful framework for these teams. However, knowing what maturity looks like and achieving it are two separate things, and the latter is often more complex than it seems on the surface — even with a framework to guide the effort.

Carving Your Path to Maturity

One of the most common obstacles leaders encounter when maturing their programs is a plateau between stages. This usually happens because teams are unfamiliar with the defining features of each stage, which can lead them to focus on:

  • Granular program successes while overlooking opportunities for deeper program progress.
  • Specific aspects of the program that drive business objectives while overlooking other areas for improvement.

When a company falls into one of these traps and feels its progress toward optimization stalling, it should keep in mind that the journey to optimization is a complex one and is rarely linear. Getting comfortable with that fact is key to going the distance on CWM maturity.

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Team leaders that are having trouble getting started or continuing to improve may consider:

  • Recalibrating the team. As a program matures, the departments with a stake in its progress are likely to change. If a team feels their efforts aren’t yielding results, they may want to review the composition of the team leading the charge to ensure that no department or employee group is left out of the process. Many teams find their progress stalled because they haven’t been folding in representatives from new business areas as the program’s reach grows.
  • Re-evaluating where the program stands. Although the goal should be full maturity across the board, certain areas may progress faster than others. Returning to the curve and evaluating your program piece by piece can help you assess where program areas sit to determine whether lagging areas must be brought up to speed or a fragmented process is aligned with the company’s needs. Either way, developing this understanding can accelerate program progress by surfacing successes that can be replicated in other areas.
  • Revisiting the plan of action. Teams often treat their initial plans as a roadmap rather than a compass. While having a specific initial plan is helpful, the steps laid out on day one may not apply months or years down the road. Maturing the program is an ongoing process — and that means that it won’t just take continuous improvements but continuous adjustments as well.
  • Reconsidering assessment criteria. “Success” is likely to mean something different later in the curve than it did in the beginning. That means adjusting the metrics the team uses to assess progress and success as the journey continues. In fact, changing how you measure progress may help the team realize that things are more on track than they initially thought — they were just using dated criteria to evaluate their efforts.

The key to course correction in this process is finding a way to step back from the specifics and regain a holistic view of operations. This can highlight the causes of stalled progress and kick-start efforts. For those that still don’t see movement, engaging with specialists in the field can help reveal a new path forward.

At the heart of CWM maturity is continuity, which means that — whether a company is starting fresh, starting over or just starting a new chapter — circling back to the beginning can help uncover strategies that further refine processes to promote the workforce agility and efficiency today’s businesses need to thrive.

Amy Bogan

Amy Bogan
Amy Bogan is senior VP of client services at Magnit.

Amy Bogan

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