By Edward Jackson, President
As the first quarter of 2013 draws to a close and financials become a topic of conversation (and consternation), I have spent some time thinking about the real value of our software. Discussions about success and the impact of a new program typically focus on cost savings and return on investment (ROI). These are great measurements – and sometimes the only tangible measurement a company can associate with a program – but are they telling the whole story?
Typically, procurement measures success as the following: I paid X for Program A last year. If I can pay 95% of X for Program A this year, I will save 5%. Procurement calls this “hard savings” – the only true measureable value (in their opinion).
These formulas work, and certainly demonstrate a measurable business impact. But they do not work when we are talking about human capital. Quality and productivity can blow away cost savings in terms of true impact. Remember the Steve Jobs quote that a great programmer is not just 2X better than another but 40X better? If you continue to pay X for Program A, but the service levels give productivity and time-to-fill a boost, you are still coming out ahead. And truly, “value” shouldn’t be about cutting costs – it’s really about growing profits. Spend management is only part of the picture.
I believe that now is the time to redirect focus, and start paying attention to the program offering and ways to empower the Managed Service Provider (MSP) and staffing companies so that they can exceed service levels and increase their customers’ satisfaction. To that end, I am thinking about how the vendor management system fits into an MSP or staffing company’s program offering and whether it is giving these providers everything they need to really deliver for their customers. A traditional Vendor Management System (VMS) only supports a fraction of the work that drives real change for their customers. What is missing? Help desk support, collaboration and an opportunity for the MSP or staffing company to expand their reach into their customers’ operations, to name a few.
Spend management has been a focus for a long time, but I see the landscape beginning to shift. It’s time to start thinking about program effectiveness, and helping MSPs and staffing companies become strategic partners with their customers to drive real change.
What do you think? Share your comments below.
By Domenic Mancini, Senior Product Manager
Are you planning to implement a vendor management system to manage your contingent workforce? While every organization has their own unique nuances and cultural obstacles to consider and respect, there are a few best practices that will make any implementation process run more smoothly and help encourage program adoption across the organization.
Your company must be ready for the changes to existing business processes a VMS implementation will make, and business leaders must clearly communicate the new system’s value proposition to the masses. How will this software and the new processes help the individual employee, as well as the company? Which day-to-day workflows will be improved? What is the impact to the bottom line?
For a successful implementation, follow these guidelines to create your adoption plan.
- Create a steering committee that brings together key executives and staff from all relevant business lines. Any group who will be affected by the change should be represented to promote collaboration and avoid potential resistance later in the process.
- Define the implementation plan – how will you achieve a successful deployment? Clearly define key milestones with deliverable timelines to maintain visibility. Stay focused on the plan and consistently measure progress.
- Develop an internal communication plan to ensure that everyone is well informed in advance of each key phase of the implementation process.
- Socialize the solution throughout the organization. Again, make sure that this messaging reaches any area of the business that will be affected by the change.
- Hold in-person feedback sessions. Town hall meetings have proven particularly effective in building successful adoption. These sessions allow the steering committee to address and validate employee concerns and objections.
- Share the information from the feedback sessions. Raise awareness of the concerns that were voiced and demonstrate that attention is being paid to these areas.
- Train project leaders, administrators, managers and users on the software solution.
- Go live.
Overcoming resistance around a project that drives this level of organizational change is challenging but essential. If one business group is allowed to opt out of the new program and processes, you may soon find other business groups questioning why they have to be included. By communicating early and often, and addressing any concerns that arise, the launch of your VMS will be a success.
Contact us to learn how Provade can help you implement a solution to manage your contingent workforce.
Provade’s leadership team continually looks toward the future as they develop innovative contingent workforce solutions. Here are their predictions as they look to 2013 and beyond.
I anticipate a growing movement toward insourcing as MSPs are increasingly challenged to defend their value proposition. As VMS capabilities grow and customers begin to use these systems, they will continue to see value in the technology and lessen their dependence on the MSP. This will encourage MSPs to defend their value proposition by building technology and unique IP into their service offering, enabling them to maintain account control.
-- Edward Jackson, President
The United States’ financial situation and Obamacare will have a ripple effect on contingent labor, where permanent employees will be transitioned to or replaced by temporary staff.
-- Tom Rumberg, Vice President of Technology
Customers will start reassessing their program analytics to ensure they are effectively examining buying practices and patterns across the enterprise where they can make positive impacts. Meaningful data delivered through a comprehensive reporting tool will enable customers to make sound decisions to drive their programs forward.
-- Domenic Mancini, Senior Product Manager
My prediction is that we will see staffing companies continue their trend back toward ownership of VMS tools.
-- Peter Parks, Vice President of Product Management
What changes do you foresee in contingent workforce management in 2013?
By Domenic Mancini, Senior Product Manager
I recently returned from the Consero Procurement & Strategic Sourcing Forum in San Diego, CA last week. This event matched up strategic suppliers and various procurement professionals with similar interests, and our discussions – focused on managing contract life cycles, minimizing risk, legal and ethical obligations and overall relationship management – offered many interesting insights.
During my meetings, it became overwhelmingly clear how few businesses have full visibility into their contingent labor spend, and even fewer know how to introduce a good cost savings methodology. Many businesses are still relying on data dumps into Excel to run their numbers, while some less mature organizations are just beginning to build out procurement departments and develop formal, corporate spend policies. True transformational change is a slow process – it takes time to identify needs and figure out the best way to move forward.
Provade VMS offers immediate insight into spend, but the data requires a deep dive to truly transform a business’ contingent workforce processes. Quarterly business reviews and trend reporting can provide recommendations for process improvement, but you must have the tools in place to get to the level of analysis that can drive real change. Just installing the solution will not get you there – data analytics are what truly drive ROI.
As we discussed the conference attendees’ experiences with other technology solutions – and talked through the overall purpose and value of such a system – I saw continued attempts to draw comparisons between other procurement process management systems and Provade. Most systems address only a portion of what our solution offers, and their focus tends to be on talent management and coordination. Only Provade VMS offers a complete procure-to-pay system. Businesses need a full lifecycle system in order to properly extract the deeper level of analytics that will allow them to more clearly understand their spending practices.
With every conversation, we get one step closer to businesses fully grasping the value a VMS can bring to their organization. I look forward to next year’s Forum, where we can continue to advocate for data analysis and demonstrate the transformative abilities of Provade VMS.
By Peter Parks, Vice President of Product Management
Mobile devices are changing the way business is done, and when appropriately leveraged, they can help us sharpen focus and work more efficiently. Mobility has led to significant increases in responsiveness for VMS users, optimizing productivity and reducing overall cycle times in contingent workforce management. Mobile line-of-business applications like Provade Mobile promote greater efficiency and performance, and enable workers to stay on top of time-sensitive tasks as they move throughout their workday.
The introduction of business intelligence (BI) is the next logical extension of mobility into VMS. To appropriately leverage mobile BI, it’s important to consider who your audience is and how BI can advance their objectives. I see two primary audiences for mobile BI – the transactional user and the C-suite.
When effectively deployed, BI drives intelligent decisions and boosts productivity for the transactional user. This can be a hiring manager, an MSP or a supplier. Reports or alerts for missing timesheets, a pending response deadline or the upcoming end of an assignment help you make point-in-time decisions. This data can typically be delivered in a small package, so the smartphone is a logical target. You may even be able to perform the appropriate response through the mobile VMS – a scenario where a comprehensive mobile application really delivers improvement to your process and outcome.
Our C-suite BI consumers do not need the minute-by-minute detail that transactional users demand. They’re more interested in summary data with an option to drill down into detail when necessary. Because C-Suite users are rapid adopters of tablet technology, we have targeted this format for their dashboards and detailed reports. With tools like Oracle’s BI app for iPad, we have delivered an excellent medium for the consumption of this information.
Users do not typically access all of the available reporting features in a VMS because the options are so robust. One Provade customer implemented nearly 150 reports they deemed critical, but when we went through a review of their implementation we discovered over 100 of these reports had not been run in the past 6 months. Removing those extra, unused reports enabled them to focus on the meaningful data and ultimately improved their BI experience in our desktop app. As we move more users to Mobile VMS, whether for transactions or BI, we help them attain that critical focus – the compact format demands that we deliver the essentials.
Watch our webinar to learn how to leverage Mobile VMS to maximize efficiency and productivity.
By Domenic Mancini, Senior Product Manager
As the holiday season quickly approaches, U.S. retailers are beginning to hire seasonal employees in greater numbers than last year, according to a survey from Aon Hewitt and HireVue. While this is great news for our economy, these businesses are exposing themselves to additional risk by taking on an increased contingent workforce. To balance these risks, it is essential to put a process in place to not only manage hiring and compensation, but handle other key aspects of the arrangement.
Start Out on the Right Foot
When taking on contingent workers, the first step to success is upfront education not only for the new worker, but also for the employees who will be managing and working with them. Contingent workers are increasingly managed by employees with no formal management experience. The on-boarding process of contingent workers is typically managed by procurement, but it is critical to include an HR rep in any and all supervisory training or workload discussions to be sure the appropriate standards are being set from the start.
Companies must ensure that all Full-Time Employee (FTE) managers of contingent workers understand exactly what tasks the temporary worker is responsible for and who they will be working with. While a Vendor Management System (VMS) is commonly seen as a solution for handling hiring and compensation for the contingent workforce, the tool can go beyond that to manage other concerns such as misclassification and tenure tracking.
Stay Aware of Data Access
In a retail environment, a contingent worker will certainly be exposed to sensitive data like customer credit card information and inventory shrinkage systems through point-of-sale (POS) applications and other business software. It is essential to build an airtight process of approval for giving access to these tools and removing access when appropriate. Your contingent workforce management process should include a solution that fully tracks the access rights given to every contingent worker in your organization so that in the event of a security breach or theft, the necessary information is available for review.
Risk is not fully eliminated when a contingent worker’s assignment ends. When an end date is defined in a VMS, the worker’s logins can be automatically shut off on their last day, and access to POS applications, computers and other resources can be disabled. By automating this process, you can be sure that the contingent worker is fully removed from the system at the appropriate time, eliminating the risk of human error. Don’t forget about tangible assets like security cards and keys – be sure to build collection of these items into your off-boarding process.
A contingent workforce brings its own management challenges to a retail organization, but these risks can be greatly reduced with proper planning and a comprehensive on-boarding and off-boarding process. To learn more about how to leverage a VMS to support contingent workforce risk management efforts, download our informative white paper.
By Peter Parks, Vice President of Product Management
Very often, Requests for Proposal (RFPs) for Vendor Management Systems (VMS) will ask us to, “explain how a VMS solution handles off-shore contingent workforces.” That is an extremely open-ended question that would benefit from a little more detail. What exactly do you mean by off-shore?
Do you refer to contingent work as off-shore because it is happening in another country? While this may be a good technical definition, does it really get to the heart of your question? I often respond with questions such as:
- Are you paying for these services in dollars (assuming a US-based client) or local currency?
- Is the work being performed on a time-and-materials basis, or as milestones or deliverables?
- Are you managing contingent workers directly or is the supplier providing project management?
I believe that organizations ascribe mystical qualities to anything that happens outside our country. People think that, “things are done differently over there,” wherever “there” may be, and assume that it therefore must affect their own operations. And maybe it should, but does it need to affect how you use technology?
If you have a team of workers in Hyderabad writing code and they are billing you in dollars on a milestone basis, how should you manage those transactions in your VMS? Should they be managed any differently from one of the big US consulting firms doing similar work (at a lot higher rate) right down the street, or in a consultant firm in your basement? Both will submit progress logs for approval, identifying the milestones completed with work product attached. The project managers will need to approve or reject both, and when approved they will generate pro forma invoices. Their workers will need to be identified on the Statement of Work (SOW) and entered into the VMS. They will feed your on-boarding file so that network access can be granted, or badges if they are with the US-based team and will be working in your facility.
But aren’t the Indian consultants in India? No, they are in the ether – as far as your systems are concerned.
Now, because the resources are sitting in another country, (sometimes with a language barrier or a significant time zone difference) you or your Managed Service Provider (MSP) may need to manage the work they are doing in a custom manner. This may be different from the local resources, but it may not impact the VMS configuration and functional requirements. You may simply need different workflows for approvals to address a necessary extra step. Rate sheets, payment terms and Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) may be different, but the core functionality will not change.
If a company has operations in India, is procuring contingent workforce services using an Indian firm, using Indian workers, and is paying for these services in accordance with Indian law, it’s not off-shoring – it’s simply doing business in India. The correct question in this case is, “how do you handle Indian operations?”
So, what do you mean by off-shore?
Learn more about Provade's Enterprise Platform and how we support international requirements.
Smartphones and tablets are taking over the workplace.
Forrester’s latest report on mobile device usage in the enterprise reflects a growing trend among workers, who are increasingly incorporating mobile devices into their workday. 66% of employees use two or more devices every day, including desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Most users are selecting their own devices rather than using company-issued technology.
Over half of all businesses surveyed are making smartphone and tablet support a priority in the next year, as employees are clearly already leveraging the technology and by getting in front of the trend, they will be better able to mitigate risk and encourage adoption throughout the organization.
No longer chained to their desks, employees are able to complete time-sensitive tasks from any location. According to a global survey by Citrix, business experienced productivity gains of up to 36 percent from employees who use personal and work-issued mobile devices to perform job duties.
While most employees have already adopted mobile e-mail and calendar usage, companies can capitalize on these major productivity gains by implementing mobile line-of-business applications such as VMS technology. Mobile applications offer an additional layer of simplification that helps increase adoption and lower the learning curve so that employees can get up and running quickly and stay focused on only the most significant tasks.
Consider the impact of enabling procurement staff and line managers to perform these critical contingent workforce management tasks from a mobile device:
- Creating requisitions
- Comparing and approving candidates
- Approving timesheets
- Setting up and reviewing reports
Regardless of business size, mobile technology will have a significant impact on productivity and reduce overall cycle time for business functions. As workforces become more dispersed due to telecommuting, mobile technology helps remote workers actively participate in key business decisions without delaying the process. With a mobile VMS, the risk of missing out on the ideal candidate due to a delayed response is diminished.
Our white paper, “Mobile VMS: Maximize Efficiency with Broader Access and a Simpler Format,” offers additional detail on how a mobile VMS can benefit your organization, along with guidance on how to select the right provider for mobile VMS.
Provade is excited to sponsor ArtWorks for Milwaukee’s Night by the River Benefit on Friday, November 2, 2012 at the Milwaukee County Historical Society. Attendees will enjoy sampling craft beer, fine wines and cocktails along with hors d’oeuvres and desserts from Milwaukee restaurants.
ArtWorks provides paid internships to Milwaukee-area high school students that help them learn transferable life and career skills while they create community-based art projects. These programs are designed to teach students about resume development, interviewing techniques and financial management while allowing students’ creativity to shine. Past projects have included public murals, mosaic windows and posters for the Milwaukee public school system.
The Night by the River Benefit will raise funding to quintuple the number of teens who can participate in the program. Live and silent auctions will include original artwork from ArtWorks’ Intern Artists, who will be available to answer questions and talk about their experiences in the program.
Provade employee Mary Martin is a Board Director and Fun Development Chair for the organization and has rallied her coworkers around the cause. This is Provade’s first time sponsoring ArtWorks at the corporate level, but we have attended other ArtWorks fundraisers in the past and look forward to other opportunities to support the organization on an ongoing basis. For updates on Provade’s community activities, follow us on Twitter.
Last year’s event sold out, so get your tickets now!
Provade is proud to sponsor the 2012 Contingent Workforce Conference taking place September 11-12 in Australia.
"The Contingent Workforce Conference has been designed for organisations that have both a Permanent and Contingent Workforce. The term “Contingent Workforce” refers to contract, temporary and Statement of Work type contractors that supplement the permanent workforce."
In addition to sponsoring, Ross Peoples, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Provade for the Asia Pacfic region, and EJ, President of Provade, will be speaking:
- Ross will be hosting a panel session titled "Tools for Managing a Contingent Workforce"
- EJ will be hosting a general session titled "Contingent Workforce: Risk or Asset?"
Check out the full conference schedule and registration information.
Hope to see you there!