Being a contingent workforce program manager in 2023 is both exciting and unnerving. After a few roller coaster years with the pandemic and rate uncertainty, you are probably wondering what could possibly be next. If you don’t already have ideas for taking your program to the next level, this article will help you look forward into 2023 and beyond to help you build an optimized CW program.

Be prepared to think differently. As a former program manager, I was always proud of the solutions I had built. After substantial investment and commitment to some of these solutions, however, it becomes difficult to recognize when they have maxed out their potential. As we go into the new year, it is important to think about our current processes, approaches and partnerships to evaluate if the components that got us to where we are will be the same ones to get us to where we need to go. Agility will be the key to 2023, which will require us to engage talent in dynamic ways which may not fit with the previous architecture of your program. Prepare to be good at change in order to be successful. This means following formal change management methodologies (my favorites are the McKinsey 7-S Framework, Kubler-Ross Change Curve and Rogers’ Innovation Adoption Curve) and finding consistency in how you advocate and implement change.

Re-evaluate the technology. Rethinking and redeploying solutions isn’t just about driving business change. In order to deploy the most innovative solutions, you will need a technology — potentially several — that meets the current needs of your program and business. For decades, our programs have been successful with the adoption of contingent-specific vendor management tools. While these tools have performed relatively well against our previous requirements, there is a new wave of programs going to market for a technology refresh. These companies have had a system for years and know what works for them and what doesn’t. They are looking to be talent differentiators and need technology to help position them for success in new ways. I expect this influx of advanced buyers not just to re-evaluate their current VMS but to challenge whether a VMS is the right type of tool for the future. Evolving beyond the VMS still seems unlikely for most organizations, but it is a trend to watch as companies look to adopt new talent concepts like total talent.

Build a community. Having good ideas will only get you so far. Even the best CW program managers need help to implement their innovative solutions. Building a strong network around you will help both foster ideas and catalyze those ideas into actions. Start with a peer community of like-minded contingent workforce innovators. Be open about challenges and willing to share ideas or best practices.

Beyond your peers, you will also need some scalable support for these new initiatives. Evaluating your provider partners for differentiating models may give you a springboard to implement these new ideas. Although not all solutions will be a slam dunk, know your business audience and look for champions that are willing to pioneer these unique solutions. This network of peers, partners and champions will help to give you the best environment to incubate creative ideas.

In next week’s issue of CWS 3.0, I’ll discuss opening new pipelines of talent — specifically in terms of untapped, underrepresented talent — embracing total talent and being proactive and prepared to pivot rather than be mired in the weeds of the job.