SI Review: December 2012

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The Buzz

A Group Effort

New developments support automating processes for teams of workers online

By Andrew Karpie

When we think about “staffing,” we typically think about sourcing and providing a given (individual) worker for a given assignment. But there is also a demand for sourcing groups or teams of workers to accomplish specific work or results (whether it is simply filling a shift or fielding a high-performance team of collaborators). In the past, staffing processes, tools and platforms to support and address this demand may have been in short supply. But that is changing. Crowdsourcing (e.g., CrowdFlower) and collaboration platforms (e.g., GitHub) are bringing about a dramatic change in the shape and composition of work that can be performed online. At the same time, other developments are taking shape that indicate how the provisioning of groups or teams of on-site workers can also be supported (effectively and efficiently, using automation).

A new startup called NextCrew introduced a platform that can be licensed and private-labeled by staffing firms to enable a highly automated set of processes for filling shifts or other requirements for groups of workers in, for example, event staffing, catering or volunteer management. To pull this off, the plat- form must take into account factors besides type of job and skills and qualifications, such as shift specifications, locations, worker availability (short intervals), numbers and types of workers needed. NextCrew has been working on opportunities in event staffing, but sees a much wider range of applications in other staffing markets (including day laborers).

Sometimes it’s not just a question of getting enough hands on deck, but also in paying more attention to skill mix and collaborative performance of a group or team. Another platform innovator, 2-year-old Work Market is, among other things, developing its service platform to (allow enterprise buyers to “curate teams” of skilled workers for deployment into certain work locations to accomplish certain missions without having to use MSP/VMS or staffing firms). According to founder Jeff Leventhal, it enables customers to pre-qualify contractors and place them into customized teams, as long as the contractor has passed certain assessments, such as certifications, background screening, tests and accepting agreements.

Meshing high performing teams together — including skills, collaborative potential, etc.— is increasingly becoming a process that can be enhanced, enabled and even performed using a growing number of platforms and tools such as Venturocket and its new partner, Traity. Venturocket, encodes workers’ skills, at a very granular level, and enables a virtual “skill market,” for employers and workers that is based on an exchange of candidates’ individual hard skills relative to their value (cost) as determined in the skills market. Traity provides a psychometric scoring of worker personality traits, based on social or crowdsourced feedback, enabling companies to find talent based not only on skills and abilities, but also personality type and cultural fit, says Marc Hoag, Venturocket CEO. In other words, technology platforms and tools are emerging that can enable the formation of effective teams based on specific skills and personality fit data.

So what’s the buzz? The wisdom of the crowd is cool and getting a lot of attention, but new contingent workforce management models and technologies supporting the deployment of groups or teams of workers are what’s really hot.

Andrew Karpie is a research analyst at Staffing Industry Analysts. He can be reached at akarpie@staffingindustry.com

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