CWS 3.0: May 8, 2013

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The Perfect Program

At a recent strategy session with a CWS Council member, one of the team members asked me pointedly: “If you were to start over from scratch, knowing what you know now, and were to create the perfect contingent workforce program, what would it look like?” This company has had a VMS and MSP program in place, as well as a mature compliance program, for several years. In short, it has all the starting bases covered and now it is trying to figure out next steps.

Because every program and client has different needs and program drivers, I won’t share my response to him. But the question got me wondering what the idealized future is. Staffing Industry Analysts does have a program maturity framework that we use to answer this question and we got companies through this maturity model to establish where they are relative to where they want to be. Additionally we also have the contingent workforce optimization roadmap that provides a mechanism for companies to identify a way forward. Both of these tools are valuable and have value to program owners as they navigate their contingent workforce journey.

What is the perfect program is more than a rhetorical question; it cuts to the heart of where our industry is headed. Everyone has a different — and often biased — perspective. Staffing firms believe that the idealized state is one that does not include an intermediary such as a VMS or MSP but goes back to the heart of what staffing is all about, which is relationships and people. The VMS provider is convinced that the heart of any ideal future labor strategy is a robust VMS. The MSPs are similarly committed to the idea that any ideal state involves outsourcing large swathes of the program and expanding outsourced governance to statement of work projects and RPO.

Procurement professionals ideate a cross functional governance structure that is fully compliant and extremely cost-effective while providing access to the widest possible pool of quality talent – full-time or contingent. The HR professional dreams of a single unified access point that merges ATS and VMS into one single streamline process reducing recruiting time to the lowest possible level while ensuring regulatory compliance and the highest caliber talent.

Who’s right? Perhaps no one. Maybe they all have some pieces of it right. Or is it simply the realization that there is no one idealized standard and that every company, every department, every provider is different and therefore there is no one perfect program.

Maybe the perfect program is one where technology enables a company to parse any activities not as temp or perm but as tasks or projects that need to be completed. There would be an automated decision process which routes those tasks and projects down the appropriate path that would then direct the end user to the appropriate engagement model. This company would deploy consistent business and rigorous program governance rules that would be based on sound business and legal principles. And it would encompass independent contractors, statement of work, full-time hires, outsource services and online staffing models, in addition to traditional agency sourced workers, because this company would recognize the need to provide as many avenues as possible to engage talent.

What would you consider to be the perfect program? Please comment below. Your perspective will help start a dialogue in how people get work done. 

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