CWS 3.0: September 18, 2013

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CWS Summit: Record Attendance; Pendulum Swings

A record number attended last week’s CWS Summit — Staffing Industry Analysts’ annual gathering of contingent workforce managers — as interest in CW management grows. And discussions at this year’s conference saw greater focus on quality of contingents and successful supplier relationships.

The CWS Summit took place last week in Chicago with more than 550 attendees, up from approximately 330 at the 2008 conference.

“This year’s CWS was our biggest ever, which speaks to how much companies are focusing on this important component of the labor force,” said Bryan Peña, vice president, contingent workforce strategies and research, at Staffing Industry Analysts.

“What was really exciting was the mix of experienced program managers and new faces and names to the industry,” Peña said. “An interesting change in attitude this year was the continued focus on creating more successful supplier relationships, getting quality contingents and focusing on cost correctness instead of cost savings.”

Cost savings is always important, but there was more discussion this year on quality and getting the right suppliers, he said. There also were conversations on building supplier relationships and acknowledging that suppliers need to be successful. The pendulum, which had swung all the way to cost savings in 2009, appears to be swinging back to a more even focus, Peña said.

There is an apparent shift with some buyers “moving from tactical to strategic,” he said.

Diana Gabriel, SIA’s vice president, strategic workforce solutions, noted several other topics of interest, including human resources departments returning to a greater role in contingent worker management and a bigger interest in monitoring statement-of-work arrangements. “SOW is more prominent than I’ve ever seen it,” Gabriel said.

There was also more discussion on taking program management in-house with executives wondering if they are better off with a managed service provider or handling it themselves.

Online staffing was also a topic among buyers in attendance. “Not enough are educated but they are aware of it,” Gabriel said.

One issue moving forward will also be attracting talent with companies weighing how they will be competitive in attracting the best, she said.

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