CWS 3.0: July 17, 2013

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Why Annual Program Assessments Are a Must

By Christopher Minnick

With the U.S. temporary staffing market projected to grow 6 percent in 2013 to $105.3 billion and another 6 percent in 2014 to reach $111.5 billion, the industry is near its historical peak in terms of spend. Conducting a program assessment will help companies manage their costs by providing much needed information on the current status of their contingent workforce practices. Moreover, program assessments, if used strategically, will aid companies in better understanding the collective risks and inefficiencies of its contingent workforce — thus allowing CW managers to incorporate important and necessary measures that will effectively improve the performance and maturity of their programs. 

1. Provide a comprehensive outlook of their current practices. While understanding the current state of a company’s contingent workforce practices may not seem revolutionary, in reality it is a very big deal. Surprisingly, most companies do not have a good understanding of how their CW programs are performing in terms of quality, efficiency, cost and risk, and don’t invest the time or effort to do so. A company may have a vague sense of one or two of these areas, expressing “we know our rates are too high” or “it takes too long to get a temp,” but it is rare that a company really understands what is happening across all four of these critical dimensions enough to properly solve the problem in a meaningful and lasting way. By conducting an objective assessment, CW program owners will better understand their current state practices and opportunities for improvement.

2. Potential to monitor program performance and maturity over time. With formalized CW programs and the advent of MSP and VMS solutions being a relatively new management strategies (i.e., ~15 years) and staff changing as frequently as they do, companies generally have little clue as to how, and more important why, their CW practices have evolved over time. Most companies come face-to-face with their shortcomings when they are faced with a crisis of some kind — an audit by a federal or state agency; unauthorized access to a system storing intellectual property, trade secrets or confidential information; or a supplier’s insolvency.

CW program assessments, especially those seeking to answer questions related to the five most important maturity features  — 1. How comprehensive is the CW program? 2. How strategic is it? 3. How well is it governed? 4. How measurable is it? 5. How sustainable is it? — have the power to predict certain events over time. Specifically, by completing an objective assessment a company will know how they are performing and roadmap for continuous improvement.  

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3. Engage stakeholders and provide important information concerning the company’s readiness to change. Far and away the most significant benefit of conducting an assessment is the fact that the entire process creates engagement among company employees and various stakeholders. By utilizing a framework, such as the CW program maturity model, assessments incorporate “stage based” questions, enabling a company to gain valuable insights into how ready and willing it is to change. Assessments typically validate what a company already knew about certain aspects of its CW practices but, if done objectively, it almost always highlights others issues that a company didn’t know existed. Sometimes those new issues aren’t things that people necessarily wanted to know. Convincing people to actually change is the hard part. Good luck! The time to start is now!

Christopher Minnick is managing partner of Brightfield Strategies, which helps Fortune 500 companies with contingent workforce strategy initiatives. He can be reached at cminnick@brightfieldstrategies.com.

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