CWS 3.0: February 5, 2014

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Introducing MSP 3.0

This is always my favorite time of year. As projects begin to take shape and we execute on them, they point to the tremendous evolution that has taken place in our industry. Where are we today? Looking at 2014 at first glance, it seems like more of the same: building benchmarks, evaluating service providers and developing preferred supplier lists. But I see some remarkable differences among them. Not only in the types of projects under consideration like workforce mix optimization and SOWs in Latin America, but in how the focus has moved beyond cost containment to focus on program sustainability. However, the most striking of these differences will be the continued evolution of the MSP program and the providers that service them.

Let’s go back a few years where things centered on the MSP. In fact, the message very clearly stated during Staffing Industry Analysts conferences for both buyers and suppliers of staffing: If you are not engaging in MSP and VMS then for lack of a better term you're missing the boat. And for the longest time that was true and for many cases it continues to be true. But the market has changed.

 I believe we are at the tail end of the adoption of these outsourced solutions. And many of the companies that deployed an MSP several years ago are looking to find out what the next iteration in contingent workforce management will be.

Here’s what I see happening: Program managers are moving beyond the procurement or HR mindset into a new realm that is both futurist and operational. They are looking for a model that can fulfill their transactional requirements and at the same time cater to their strategic needs, so providers that have succeeded on delivering transactional support and cost savings are being asked to develop strategic solutions based on nebulous expectations and unclear ideas as to their eventual ability to be executed. They should not lose heart. The reasons for this is we are moving to a new era: the MSP 3.0.

What the MSP 3. 0 will eventually look like is unclear but get there we will. This is the journey and both buyers/sellers should embrace the process. What helps is the robust set of tools and resources available to bring to bear. These tools include exciting technologies like online staffing platforms such as Elance or TaskRabbit. We also have the outliers, like Wonolo.com, which allows individuals to find jobs working for the best brands hourly or daily from anywhere. Wonolo sees its ability to help individuals find work as an opportunity to build brand loyalty. If this proves successful, it could disrupt our industry.

Disruption notwithstanding, legislation such as the Affordable Care Act in the U.S. or the Agency Worker Directive in Europe creates its own challenges and opportunities for those of us involved in contingent workforce organizations. There’s much change to come in contingent workforce management. Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a little bumpy ride.

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