CWS 3.0: November 2, 2011 - Vol. 3.31

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In the Spotlight: Get that senior leadership buy-in

For this issue, CWS 30’s Subadhra R. Sriram spoke with Chana Brickell, director of talent acquisition at First Data, a global leader in electronic commerce and payment processing. Around the world, every second of every day, First Data makes payment transactions secure, fast and easy for merchants, financial institutions and their customers. Brickell’s group manages the company’s U.S. temporary worker program, which resides in HR and is distinct from managed services and statement of work consultants. She manages a program with around 400 contingents with the help of a VMS and MSP. Brickell is working closely with the company’s strategic sourcing group to assess global expansion — the company is looking to further expand the CW program in Europe and Australia.

Q: Please describe your program.
A: First Data’s program currently consists of U.S. temporary leased workers in the clerical, professional, and IT categories. The process is managed by our VMS/MSP provider, who sits on-site. The program is managed within human resources, although I partner very closely with our global strategic sourcing organization. We are in the process of on-boarding Canada and are assessing global expansion.

Q: Do you use statement of work (SOW) consultants?
A: First Data does utilize consultants who work under a statement of work, but these contracts are managed through the global strategic sourcing group, not our VMS/MSP provider.

Q: What is your program called?
A: Internally we refer to our leased worker program by the supplier’s name: Beeline. They have been our U.S. VMS/MSP provider for six years.

Q: And you don’t foresee any challenges in that?
A: No. We completed a full review of the program a year and a half ago and decided to continue with their services in the U.S.

Q: And what are your goals for the year?
A: As it relates to contingent labor, we are analyzing the potential for global expansion of a VMS/MSP program. We are looking closely at spend in other countries, cultural and legal aspects of VMS/MSP, and the appetite of the business for this sort of program.

Q: Going back to your program, what would you say its chief characteristics are? What kind of skill sets do you use the most?
A: We push our MSP to really focus on delivering quality, value, and customer service to our hiring managers. We measure them on multiple SLAs and meet monthly to discuss how they are meeting those SLAs. The skill sets requested most are associated with call center and production type work, although we do run a smaller percentage of IT work through the program.

Q: Let’s talk about the contingent workforce arena. You said you’ve been in it for a year and a half.
A: Yes.

Q: And what do you think about it?
A: I really enjoy it. There is a perception that contingent labor is something you just deal with. There is much more to managing a program then one would think and it is constantly changing. If done correctly, you can positively impact the business and the bottom line.

Q: How has it changed?
A: I think our focus on quality, spend, and compliance has changed. We also expect suppliers to provide better service and to be thoughtful about how they work with us. We really push our MSP to ensure the suppliers deliver in a manner so that we can meet our goals. We reviewed our contracts and revamped our program earlier this year to ensure we had the right suppliers supporting First Data.

Q: What motivated you to go back and examine your contracts?
A: One, the economy and two, our global strategic sourcing organization’s commitment to ensuring we are getting what we need from our suppliers. We worked closely through this initiative and both organizations were able to meet internal goals by conducting these reviews. We reviewed all the suppliers used in the program to ensure we were receiving the best quality for the right price. We ended up removing poor performers and added a few new suppliers.

Q: Did you look into the pricing because of the recession or was this something long overdue?
A: We looked at this for both reasons. It makes good business sense to review this every few years. The timing was perfect as I was new to the space and global strategic sourcing was also a somewhat new team. Both of our organizations had similar goals and we were able to work closely to accomplish them.

Q: What were you doing before you came into the contingent workforce space?
A: My background is in HR service delivery, vendor management and project management.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I like the challenge of balancing hiring managers’ needs with the business needs and ensuring we remain compliant. It is a constant juggling act, but I enjoy finding solutions to ensure that we protect the company while delivering to our hiring managers.

Q: Do you have a team or do you work solo?
A: This is a team effort. As I mentioned before, our MSP provider sits on site, a member of my team assists with the program, and we work closely with global strategic sourcing.

Q: Is it overwhelming?
A: No. I say this because all of the people mentioned above work well together. Managing the VMS/MSP program is a portion of my overall responsibilities at First Data.

 Q: What don’t you like about your job?
A: I can’t say there’s anything I don’t like. I’m quite happy with it.

Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges that CW managers face when it comes to program adoption?
A: I would say that so much of it is related to perceptions of having a program. It’s being able to change managers’ habits. And it’s really being able to, in a sense, control the relationships between the managers and the suppliers. It’s being able to show them the benefits of having a program in place and consistent processes.

Q: Do you have a sponsor?
A: Yes, I would say that my boss is a sponsor. I would also say that the partnership with global strategic sourcing also makes them a sponsor.

Q: Describe a big challenge that you’ve faced in the last couple of months.
A: In the last couple of months, I think it’s really been looking at loopholes. Really ensuring people are following the appropriate processes to acquire resources so that we have visibility into resources and spend. We’ve been able to change that through policy changes, education and support of the business. In addition, our partnership with global strategic sourcing is tight. And so it’s really bringing all the people together on the same path to make sure we’re addressing the same issues and working together versus just letting things happen.

Q: What do you do to make sure the managers come on board?
A: You know I have to say that the lady who managed the program before me did quite a good job of having a process in place. But in the last year and half or so the focus on resources and spend have come front and center. We were able to obtain senior leadership support for the program.

Q: What is your biggest success in the last year?
A: I would say getting people to go through and commit to the process. This occurred with policy changes, senior leadership support, and doing the full review of the program to ensure the MSP could deliver.

Q: What advice would you give to other people trying to do this?
A: I would say more than anything to get that senior leadership buy-in and involve the managers. Once they see the benefits, they can really help sell it to other folks.

Q: What is your opinion of contingent workforce management as a profession? Would you recommend others to enter it?
A: I absolutely would. I think it’s a great profession and I also think because it’s evolving right now, there are so many different paths that you can take. You can go global with a program and get more experience in areas than you would otherwise. I do think it is a “needed profession.” Companies need people to ensure they are getting the most out of their programs. Unchecked, they leave themselves open to liability and uncontrolled spend.

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