CWS 3.0: April 17, 2013

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How to Develop a Global Program Governance Structure

One of the highest priorities — if not THE highest priority — for today’s contingent workforce managers is the continued growth of their programs. But for those managers needing to expand their programs globally, the development of a governance structure is a big challenge. How do you create appropriate uniformity in your program? What policies and procedures do you implement? How does the program differ from region to region? Country to country? Category to category? And how do these inevitable variances affect program management?

We asked CWS Council members during a recent meeting how program oversight is provided. Sixty percent of respondents — those who have an international program — responded that they have a centrally managed program that establishes policies and procedures, while 33 percent allow each country to set policies as they see fit — as long as they are in alignment with established business rules. And in a surprising display of candor, 7 percent said they had no idea, which speaks to the level of complexity inherent in such rollouts. Not surprisingly, none allow each country full autonomy.

While considering a governance framework, the first consideration is how the regional oversight will be provided. Do you build a strong centrally managed program office? Or should you establish baseline operating guidelines and allow each country to manage their programs as they see fit within those guidelines? Each method comes with its own plusses and minuses.

A centrally managed program, while consistent and controlled in execution, may suffer from inflexibility or adoption issues as regional cultures may not accept central oversight. Or worse yet, they might appear to comply while working to prove the failings of the program rather than participate in the solution, something I refer to as “malicious compliance.”

Another way to develop your governance structure is to establish a baseline of program requirements — VMS usage rules, job description format and hierarchies, etc. — and from there allow each country to structure its programs based on its unique requirements. This method may encourage better adoption rates and reduce malicious compliance, but overall program goals such as savings may be delayed, reduced or even eliminated.

As with any program, you need to make sure you have a deep understanding of your program goals, vision and processes before deciding on a course of action. But by understanding how to create global business rules that are aligned with your circumstances you can be better assured of a positive outcome.

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