CWS 3.0: April 10, 2013

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Quarterly Business Reviews: What really is standard?

In the process of developing a standardized quarterly business review (QBR) template for Staffing Industry Analysts’ CWS council members, I began to realize a few things. First, while the primary goal of a QBR may be to quantify, measure and drive program performance, it is ultimately an opportunity to develop contingent workforce strategy, advice and thought leadership for the future. Second, the standards seem to vary for every program.

Good QBRs show progress toward contingent workforce program initiatives and routinely include industry standard measures, service-level agreement metrics and key performance indicators all based on the program’s business goals. It is a quarterly report card with areas of improvement noted and challenges targeted. QBRs measure headcount, spend, cost savings, supplier activity, implementation progress, accomplishments and issues. Resource and market updates may also be part of the discussion.

The ideal. Well-conducted QBRs give participants a succinct program overview, insight and food for thought. They will result in recommendations for near-term improvements and include strategy for future enhancements that will delight internal customers and move your program up the value chain. Through the well-run QBR, participants will track past issue resolutions and put in place preventative measures. Partners share their vision and best practices from a unique vantage point that includes multiple program experiences. They add value and become trusted advisors, at least that’s how it should work.

Standard measures. Standards for the QBR can depend on the program goals and industry and even how the program was initially designed. Market conditions and current business realities have to be considered in any QBR, but how can you quantify them? One way is to make sure your partner is including data from standard resources (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Staffing Industry Analysts, American Staffing Association) or have their own intellectual capital to keep you up to date with the current market. The next step is to look at how this affects supply or demand for talent in your program. Can you count on your partner to look into that crystal ball and help predict the future with you?

Headcount and tenure, spend by business unit, critical service and fulfillment levels are all standard QBR measures. Expenditures by skill category (technical, clerical, professional, light industrial) and by type (recruited vs. referred), job posting activity and program snapshots that compare metrics and supplier performance over time should also be standard. The key is to use these data strategically to create projections and plan proactively.

While the standards are there, and we all know what they are (or should be), your QBR should provide a fertile ground for strategy and thought leadership that improve your ongoing program and provide a roadmap for future initiatives. 

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