We often discuss what contingent workforce managers should do to ensure their programs evolve and improve, but it is equally important for them to consider what not to do. This article examines 10 common mistakes CW leaders make which can have a direct impact on program success.

1. Proceed without executive support. A very common issue with underperforming/low maturity programs is the lack of executive support. The mistake is not having the trust and confidence from senior leadership or the proof of a tangible strategy to deliver talent on time, at the right price with the right skills. It is the job of the enterprise CW program stakeholder/leader to gain trust and confidence with the enterprise’s executive team. Having this support helps accelerate CW program maturity, without which CW programs can fall behind.

2. Adopt a laggard mindset/not being strategic. There is absolutely a requirement for CW programs to be able to execute the basic blocking and tackling from an operational perspective. However, the best programs in the world are able to view contingent workforce as a strategic talent lever. The people who run the programs decide that the program should be better and challenge status quo. Technology advancements are ramped throughout the CW industry. Strategic-minded leaders are always looking for an edge and technology, when done well, can provide a strategic competitive advantage.

3. Keep talent channels siloed. Way too many programs have a very siloed approach when it comes to managing the various talent channels such as staff augmentation, statement of work, FTEs and interns. Many challenges exist when enterprises have siloed talent channels; they include overpaying for services, misclassification and policy violations. The best programs find a way to tear down these silos, making it easier for managers to get work done by finding talent in the fastest, most effective way.

4. Failure to gain adoption. The inability for buyer organizations to gain adoption can be caused by many factors such as policies and procedures that do not align with business needs, complex technology, poor training and lack of strong customer support to name a few. For those who have seen the movie “Field of Dreams” the phrase … if you build it they will come … CW programs do not operate this way… if you build it, they may not necessarily execute and use what you have built. Buyers need to scrutinize their policies to ensure they allow for work to get done with high quality, solid efficiency, at a reasonable cost and with limited risk. Finding this balance goes a long way in gaining adoption.

5. Use of old technology/unwillingness to consider change. It is easy to get complacent with regard to technologies, but failure to have a strategic technology strategy can render your program and organization uncompetitive. The advancements of the various technologies in our industry — such as VMS, interviewing, skills testing, background checks and platform talent solutions, to name a few — have progressed and improved drastically. Along with the improvements of technology integrations, keeping your head in the sand is a mistake.

6. Failure to understand or act on poor NPS scores. A Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement taken from asking customers how likely they are to recommend your product or service to others on a scale of zero to 10 — but there’s a lot more to the story than that. Historically, enterprises via the SIA annual Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey have given their MSP and VMS very poor scores. A strong NPS score is a good indicator the program is doing things well. Poorly adopted programs will have negative NPS scores. With proper action, a program can improve their scores over time. Failing to understand the value of the NPS and how to improve it is a very large mistake. The worst mistake here is to not even asking what your ecosystem thinks of your CW program. Believe it or not, we find many CW programs do not effectively gain feedback and simply assume folks are happy with the program.

7. Inability to gain trust of the business. The business units within the enterprise organization rely on contingent program structures to get work done. Historically, they have been forced to adhere to the various program policies and procedures. But with so many options for talent today, these business units can wield a great amount of power. It is critical to for the program to be aligned with their goals and objectives for talent and to gain their trust that your contingent workforce program can deliver high quality talent on time. When trust of the business units is lost or never achieved, this can drive rogue behavior.

8. Aligning with the wrong providers. This can be a huge mistake and an easy one to make. There are approximately 19,000 staffing suppliers in the US alone; not all providers are created equal and they can offer a vast array of unique characteristics and service offerings. It is a common mistake for program leaders to not vet and align with the right providers. This can often be viewed as a secondary priority and it should not. Having a strong provider strategy is not difficult but it does take time and commitment. Getting the best providers who align with your goals and objectives can be dividends.

9. Failure to collaborate with other enterprises. The importance of collaboration cannot be underestimated. None of us have all of the answers on our own; we live and work in a dynamic marketplace that is constantly changing. The power of sharing ideas and solutions is heavily promoted at SIA for our CWS Council. On a monthly basis, we offer an organized collaboration environment for organizations to share ideas and solutions to challenges. Sticking one’s proverbial head in the sand is a common mistake. The power of connecting and solving challenges together is hard to quantify.

10. Not being self-aware. “Magic mirror, on the wall — who is the fairest one of all?” is an iconic line from the 1937 Disney classic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. It is very common for program leaders to not be able to effectively self-reflect on their policies and procedures. It is not uncommon for programs to never, or rarely, review their operational and delivery models. We see some programs that have policies and procedures that are more than a decade old. It is important for program leaders to look in the mirror to self-reflect and recognize their own weaknesses.

Avoiding these top 10 issues is a good starting point toward progress and improvement within the contingent workforce ecosystem. The ability to get work done on time, on budget with the right talent is the common goal companies are striving to achieve.