For our inaugural issue, CWS 30 spoke with Ed Hidalgo, senior director of staffing at Qualcomm, a wireless telecommunications research and development company based in San Diego, California. Hidalgo's contingent workforce program, which focuses predominantly on professional, engineering and IT skill sets, has more than $100 million in spending and uses a vendor on premise. But Hidalgo is also responsible for hiring traditional workers for several business units. Learn from Hidalgo's challenges and read what advice he has for other contingent workforce managers.
CWS 30: What do you hope to achieve with the program in 2009? What are your goals?
Ed Hidalgo: We have a lot of goals, but most important, we have a project where we're converting consultants to temps, based on definitions we've developed in order to get more control and visibility of this population. We have a good amount of consultants that really need to fall under the temporary definition; therefore we have to engage those firms with a staffing agreement.
Q: Are the firms that provide these consultants now going to come under a staffing agreement?
A: Yes. Managers have been using consultants as a way to get their work done, some of it is milestone-based, but some of it is time and materials, and for us it's better to track and manage the time and materials workers as temps. This process gives us much more financial control because we're able to track actual hours worked. It is a very complicated but worthwhile process that I think a lot of companies are paying attention to. In order to be successful, it is critical to have the support of legal, finance, procurement, HR.
Q: What drove you to do this?
A: I used to be with Manpower and I understood the staffing side. When I joined Qualcomm and we started looking at the overall spend and tracking process for the temp and consultant workforce with finance, we realized that we needed to put in more controls. We wanted more transparency to the spend, to reduce the risks, to ensure that suppliers were adhering to their contracts, and to meet our goals. We are also working to evaluate VMS providers to help us continue to improve our program, but even without VMS we've already seen significant benefits from our program.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: The opportunity to innovate. In a contingent workforce there are so many opportunities to improve process. For one, a good program can drive savings to a company. It's also exciting to get to go to the managers when you do workforce planning and ask what type of talent do you need? Do you want it to be contingent or do you want it to be a full-time or intern hire? Do you need it to be project? And the contingent workforce, just the flexibility of helping your management team get projects done at an as-needed basis, just-in-time hiring, I think is really exciting. It's a way to innovate.
Q: What type of contingent worker would you hire for a project?
A: It depends on the project. In some cases it would be a temp but in other cases it would be a consultant, and in that case I would partner with procurement to put a master services agreement in place as they establish the agreements with our consulting firms âââââââââ€š¬Å¡¬Å¡¬Å¡¬ââââââââ‚¬Å¡¬Å¡¬Å¡¬ÂÂÂÂÂÂÂ? HR/staffing handles all the staffing agreements. I'm not saying that it's always staffing that can deliver what makes sense. But I'm almost like a staffing generalist. If a human's going to come to a site to do work, I want to know all of the levers to pull to help my manager be the most efficient, get the best talent. So it's right talent, right price, right time.
Q: What do you like least about your job?
A: I don't like suppliers that lie to me.
Q: Do you have a lot of that?
A: I think that suppliers like mystery. It's because the more mystery there is, the less that they have to be specific. But then at the same time when a supplier is not mysterious and is very open about their practices, it sets them apart from the rest so much more. I really appreciate that type of partnership.
Q: Outline something to me that saved your skin on the job.
A: The thing that always saves my skin is just being honest really. ' If I see something coming that's a problem I'll take it right to my VP so he's aware. I move quickly, and I make sure things are socialized and transparent. And that's what I've learned in business [that] is really important: not letting people get blindsided. I learn technical things all the time. I learn about contracts. I learn from legal all the time things that I don't know. But what helps me out the most is being honest to a fault.
Q: What advice would you give to other contingent workforce program managers trying to do this?
A: Don't give up. It's a hard battle. It took me three years to get anyone to want to pay attention to this topic.
Q: Why is it so hard?
A: I think that it's such a new and developing field that even some of the basic fundamentals at the executive level, they don't understand it. They don't understand things like overtime discounts, FICA recapture, sustaining rates. They don't understand the strategy around saving money with contingents. They don't believe it and I've had the executives tell me that. No, I don't believe you can save us money. And then you go out and you show them. You have to kind of be an evangelist for your program. You have to be super passionate about it and not willing to give up. Literally, three years I'm on this project. Three years. And people just now are getting what we do on our contingent workforce team at Qualcomm.
Q: Any other advice?
A: Align yourself with good partners within your company. Make sure that you build allies within the organization that you can leverage with. Find out who your advocate is, who your partner is and then try to sell it. It's a selling game.
Q: Do you want to talk about any specific challenges you faced in the last couple of years?
A: Yeah, I think lots of challenges with international temp hiring.
Q: Have you now got any practices in place to deal with this?
A: We're working closely with our international staffing team to better evaluate what our suppliers are providing us as well as our HRMS team to help us with our systems and tracking processes. There's a lot of talent in India, China, Europe. We're going to where the talent is in a lot of cases and we need to bring the talent here, too, sometimes. We want them to come but the process to manage this movement is challenging and it has to be done right by us and by our suppliers.
Thankfully I have a tremendous staff. Most of them had little or no experience in this contingent workforce area and now we've built an entire team. If there was any kudos to give, it is to those people because they have worked so diligently and passionately. And without them we wouldn't be successful. They are the reason for my success. They're just a great group of people.