Procurement’s Place in the Continued Evolution of Contingent Workforce Management

Procurement’s Place in the Continued Evolution of Contingent Workforce Management

Today’s procurement executives have a lot on their collective plates: maintain visibility into corporate spend, work collaboratively with internal stakeholders and functions like product development and finance, and, of course, continually improve the bottom-line. For the many procurement teams that have contingent workforce management (CWM) programs under their umbrella, the past few years have brought incredible change. From the continued rise in utilization of non-employee talent to the ramifications of the Gig Economy, as well as the overarching Future of Work concept, procurement holds an interesting place in CWM in 2018.

A few years ago, I discovered (via Ardent’s State of Contingent Workforce Management research series) that the very structure of CWM was becoming more “talent-led” than “commodity-led,” which obviously hinted at the increasing role of HR in helping to manage the non-employee workforce. This shift forced many a procurement executive to effectively “balance” what was happening within their CWM programs: maintain a focus on costs, visibility, and compliance, but also contend with challenges of talent quality and engagement.

Add the continued “consumerization” of business, Gig Economy ramifications (i.e. more and more talented professionals eschewing traditional work models for flexibility), and the heightened discussions around the Future of Work (ahem), and, in essence, this is where procurement sits today in regards to contingent workforce management:

  • Continue to be the “voice of reason” when it comes to major staffing suppliers, compliance and risk mitigation, and extending the CWM program into new global areas (globalization).
  • And, speaking of risk mitigation, ensure that all new sources of talent (such as talent marketplaces and online talent platforms) adhere to corporate regulations and hiring guidelines.
  • Provide visibility into the “bigger” pieces of contingent workforce management, such as SOW-based projects and services (SOW/services management is one of top three focal areas of today’s CWM programs, according to new Ardent research).
  • Build the basis of a forward-looking “total workforce management” strategy by collaborating with HR on a total talent acquisition approach, in which all sources of talent can be standardized and centralized.
  • Balance the long-term focus on cost savings/cost reductions with the very quality and depth of talent (another area in which a partnership with HR can be essential), and;
  • Serve as the guiding function that can help the greater enterprise link the principles of contingent workforce management with the attributes of the Future of Work model.

Pertinent to the final bullet above, procurement executives must be in tune with the innovation happening in the market; there should be no expectation that, in the short-term, advancements like artificial intelligence or machine learning be integrated with existing work optimization technologies and initiatives, since many organizations are still in an “adaptation” phase in relation to how the business world is evolving. However, it should be a long-term goal to understand how next-generation platforms fit into the organization’s future state of work: how can AI augment existing operations? Where does machine learning fit into the existing analytical architecture? How can procurement be a driving force when it comes to supporting on-demand talent engagement?

Procurement sits in an interesting position today when it comes to contingent workforce management: continue to manage the traditional aspects of the program, while strategically planning ahead for the Future of Work.

Download the industry’s hottest guide to the Future of Work and contingent workforce management (CWM), The State of Contingent Workforce Management 2018, and learn how the new world of work will impact your business in 2018. This epic guidebook, now in its fifth year, is the de-facto research study for learning about new workforce trends, the direction of both traditional and innovative technology, and what the Future of Work means for the typical business.