CWS 3.0: December 1, 2010 - Vol 2.23

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Behind the News: Who's in Charge?

What department should have overall responsibility for a corporation's contingent workforce program? Does it matter? This issue has been a tug of war at many companies in the United States with the procurement and HR sectors each lobbying to take on this task.

In Europe today, the HR department still has a slight edge when it comes to supplier selection. In fact preliminary data from Staffing Industry Analysts reveal that Europe is where the United States was four years ago. At that juncture, HR took the lead when it came to CW matters. But over time, the role of the procurement department has increased in the United States, particularly in areas such as vendor selection. CW program managers view this as a sign that their efforts to educate senior management on the importance of a flexible workforce were successful. Once executives see the bigger picture, they start to look for measurable results, which are often better realized in the procurement process.

So based on the preliminary data, it looks as if Europe is going the way of the United States in the CW evolutionary cycle. Further, as VMS adoption increases in the Continent, there will be more visibility into pay rates and markups -- again, traditionally procurement's territory.

In anticipation of this, program managers both here and across the ocean need to take certain actions. Procurement folks in Europe need to be trained on CW processes and procedures to cope with the increasing reliance on a temporary workforce. Those U.S.-based companies that are expanding their programs in Europe can play a role in ushering this change.

Procurement domination notwithstanding, the acquisition, deployment and management of contingents isn't the obvious purview of one corporate entity. Elements of those processes fall within the purview of HR and procurement, each of which approaches the task differently. There has to be cooperation between the two sectors, with roles and responsibilities clearly demarcated.

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