CWS 3.0: November 13, 2013


Program Maturity: Preparing for Critical Mass

Not too long from now, contingent workers will represent a percentage of an organization’s workforce that will be considered critical mass. According to Staffing Industry Analysts’ 2013 research, the contingent workforce will comprise nearly a fifth of the overall workforce at large (more than 1,000 employees) companies within two years.

This critical mass will require contingent workforce program management to be more than just a policing group that protects against unmanaged bill rates and unforeseen engagement risks and effectively engages reliable suppliers. Although these important CW program management issues will remain key for program performance goals, programs’ future focus will need to be on optimizing the organization’s ability to attract, productively engage and optimize contingent workforce talent as a strategic, competitive operating model.

As currently constructed, are today’s CW programs (internal or externally managed) ready/capable of making a strategic contribution to an organization’s workforce? Are they capable of being a strategic contributor to the engagement of a quality, responsive workforce operating model?

It seems like a natural leadership role for most CW programs to step right into, especially with the accumulated market knowledge and management expertise of the company’s current CW engagements. But many programs are narrowly focused on tactical; policing performance concerns and lack strategic operating capabilities. In too many cases there are no roadmaps for where and how to move forward to play this emerging strategic role in the organization.

Methodologies and tools are available to help remedy this situation. The first consideration is understanding the difference between program performance and capability. While CW program performance is important, it is also important to consider the capability maturity of your CW program by asking:

  • Can your program continue to do well in the future?
  • Is it structured in a way that fosters continuous improvement?
  • Is your good performance sustainable?

A next step is to measure the program’s capabilities across a comparable program maturity model spectrum. A maturity model enables program leaders to take stock of their programs’ process capability levels and assess the comparable state of those to a represented industry program model. Some key process capability areas to consider:

  • Comprehensive engagement process and geographic management
  • Alignment with the organization’s business needs
  • The engagement compliance framework
  • CW performance measurability and analysis
  • Program process consistency and adaptability

From there, a roadmap of continuous improvement plans can be developed that are aligned to the evolution of an organization’s engagement of contingent workforce talent. Yes, as a CW program initially climbs up a program maturity model perspective, it will focus heavily on process improvements that gain collaborative, cost-effective control (policing) of CW engagements. But once a foundation of program management is implemented and adopted across the organization, then more strategic value needs to be delivered in terms of “universal, talent skills bench”; “vertical and horizontal workforce scalability”; “project and long-term, contingent workforce talent resources”; and “repeatable, skill/culturally vetted CW talent resources,” to name a few.

The idea here is to prepare strategically for the next wave of “value” that organizations are going to require from their contingent workforce resources. Business unit leaders will drive new creativity in CW engagements to optimize their business operating models competitively. As a consequence, they will be seeking new support value and services from their CW program to meet their fast-evolving requirements.

A good example: Most recruitment process outsourcing providers today deploy a virtual, recruiting model that leverages temporary resources. This strategically delivers expertise and recruiting capacity on a scalable and variable basis for client engagements/talent acquisition programs. It is a fairly cost-effective operating model managed by a single applicant tracking system, but it delivers strategic program management leverage for clients that engage this workforce acquisition solution. It’s kind of like a talent recruiting utility where a client strategically regulates usage depending upon its precise talent acquisition requirements.

Staffing Industry Analysts’ CW Program Maturity Model is a key content item in the Certified Contingent Workforce Professional certification program. We allocate significant program management content on expert knowledge concerning overall program design, implementation, adoption and performance management. But we also need to know that CCWP program management experts understand the strategic, critical role that CW program management will and can play in the future of the overall workforce. Hence, we include a methodology and tool that a CCWP professional can use to create a roadmap to design and deliver that strategic value.


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