CWS 3.0: March 5, 2014

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Program Performance: What to score?

For many contingent workforce program managers, the exercise defining what is important to program success or failure — building a program scorecard — is more art than science. The process can be very frustrating as there are myriad permutations in the metrics that can be brought to bear in a given program. But it’s a critical process to undergo. Tracking the right metrics can help you determine how you and your suppliers are performing — and more important, spot troubled areas before they become serious problems.

Each program is different; there is no definitive “best” metric that all programs should track. However, there are a few guidelines to consider when building a scorecard:

  1. Determine what parts of your program are most closely aligned to the customer experience. This is important because it can have a direct effect on the top-line revenue. And that in the end is the most important element in any initiative, contingent or otherwise. For example, in a call center environment, consistency is important as well as ability to fill requisitions, so turnover metrics and response rates are relevant.
  2. What elements are causing the hiring managers the most trouble? If it’s issues with open requisitions or poor supplier responsiveness, metrics like time to respond should be considered.
  3. What is within the supplier’s sphere of control? This is the single principle that governs all the others. When building a scorecard, many program managers make the mistake of holding suppliers accountable to elements beyond their control. Time to fill is a perfect example. It is a good measure of program health overall, but a poor supplier metric, because many components of the hiring process are entirely out of the supplier’s control. Suppose a supplier submits a resume within hours of receiving a req, but the hiring manager sits on it for two weeks before following up. In most time-to-fill calculations, such a delay would reflect negatively on the supplier. The better solution is to break up the hiring process and delineate the areas which are within the supplier’s control — like time to respond or time to submit.
  4. Don’t compare your program to others as every agenda is different! This premise is a fundamental source of frustration for me. Unlike many other commodities and with very few exceptions, there are almost no metrics that translate across companies. This may seem counterintuitive, but if one considers the number of variables from company to company it naturally follows that there is little value in measuring your program against others. For example, I often tell buyers to consider how their job descriptions may differ from others in the same industry. Your accountant II may be someone else’s accountant I. Your suppliers may be dealing with a VMS and someone else may have a manual process. Your rates may be above market or below or your job descriptions may be different than others in your same industry. Instead of comparing your company to others, we recommend looking at the patterns in your program and measure incremental improvements.

 Scorecarding is a fundamental part of any program’s success. Yes, there are many levels of complexity that come into play. But by paying attention to a few simple rules, you can be better set up for long-term success.

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