CWS 3.0: October 30, 2013

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Defining Quality in Our Ecosystem

All contingent workforce programs aim to provide it, all suppliers say they have it and most engagement managers say it's more important to them than even cost: quality.

But with quality being such a critical component of contingent workforce programs, why is it is so difficult to deliver? Could it be because quality means something different to everyone? How can program managers, suppliers and the candidates successfully deliver something that can't easily be defined?

In order to help close this gap, we need to start putting in place consistent definitions, which can then be modified for specific needs. This would include definitions of program operation quality, supplier service quality and contingent worker/talent quality, what Staffing Industry Analysts calls the “Three Pillars of Contingent Workforce Quality.”

For each of these areas we can use metrics and data to help us understand if quality is being provided, which in turn can help us start to define what quality means and looks like. Utilizing data from your vendor management system as well as information provided by your internal and external customers via surveys or indirect feedback is a great place to start.

As you begin this process be sure to include insight and feedback from your engagement managers, your suppliers and even the contingent workers via the staffing provider. Why the contingent workers? You want to know that candidates view your program as a quality program to ensure you are able to attract the right talent.

Talent. If a program does not deliver quality talent there will be no customer adoption, and without adoption your program will not be successful or sustainable. To make sure you are able to provide quality talent, it will require input from your engagement/ hiring managers as you do not want to assume what they consider a quality candidate to look like. Understanding what they think makes a good contingent worker is critical.

Suppliers. When it comes to supplier quality value think about your best suppliers and what it is that makes them so good. We usually find that they adhere to program policies, they have speed and efficiency and they are able to find you the right talent. Utilizing metrics that provide this insight will tell you if you have the right suppliers supporting quality within your program. A quality program needs to have successful suppliers supporting it.

Program operation. If a program does not deliver quality, your customers will find ways to avoid using it and instead work around it. To help understand what metrics you should utilize to gauge overall CW program operation value, you need to think about how your customers would describe the service quality that your program delivers. What delights your internal customer? Usually it is that the program can find the right talent at the right cost, the program is easy to use and/or the service is consistent. Using metrics that provide this insight can help determine if your program's operations deliver quality.

Although these steps will not provide the be all and end all definition of contingent workforce quality, it is a good place to start. Yes, quality cannot easily be defined, but we can all agree that we know it when we see it. Implementing definitions within your program will help make it easier for everyone to see. 

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