Direct sourcing has become one of the most popular conversations in the contingent workforce industry. Providers and buyers alike have been trying to re-invent processes and practices to find better ways to engage contingent workers, leading to an evolution of the concept, which in turn has made it challenging to define.

Indeed, it seems that every article, webinar, conference panel and workshop I have participated in begins by trying to establish a single prescriptive definition for a concept that in fact comprises dozens of components and individual strategies. In the next series of articles, I will take a closer look at some of these areas that can become critical success points for your direct-sourcing initiative, many of which have little to do with the actual recruitment function. These areas include:

Talent brand. Often, organizations have considered their talent brand a reflection of their full-time workforce. This includes the outward or market perception of what it’s like to work for your organization.  Organizations that are exploring direct sourcing will need to get comfortable with the idea that their talent brand includes more than their full-time employees. Expanding this mindset to include contingent workers and formally exploring how to apply your company’s brand to this segment of the workforce is a critical component of direct sourcing.

Talents pools. Many organizations think of talent pools simply as an accumulation of resources that are interested in contingent opportunities. With advances in technology, it becomes easier to fence these resources and even keep them engaged. To be successful at talent pooling, you have to think beyond a single candidate pool and determine which populations are more advantageous to keep engaged. An evolved program may focus less on unquantified or unvetted candidates and invest more in alumni (contingent or employee) or silver medalists — candidates who have come further down the engagement funnel and been through some or all background and skills checking.

Resource engagement. Direct sourcing doesn’t stop when a candidate is placed. It is important to think of the experience of the workers and create a population that is highly engaged and eager to come back after the assignment ends. This requires an organization to have a contingent-inclusive culture and to be invested in the safety and satisfaction of all resources supporting the company. Strong resource engagement and satisfaction becomes extremely important as you consider the value of redeployment of high-quality/highly skilled workers.

Provider partnerships. New services and technologies are emerging in the market often. In a concept like direct sourcing, there is no single technology or service model standard. The diverse nature of these tools and services requires buyers to keep an open mind about how different approaches could support or augment their direct-sourcing program. There is a perfect configuration of services and technology partners for every organization, but it may not be the first one you look at. Be considerate about how a provider’s strategy and roadmap align to your direct-sourcing program and know the problems you are trying to solve.

Technology and automation. Much like the evolving VMS market, direct-sourcing technology may not be just a single end-to-end application. Automation and AI tools are appealing to buyers directly to give them all of the individual technology components to best optimize their processes. In some industries, like light industrial where the direct-sourcing objective is more focused on volume tasks as opposed to identifying unique qualifications, there may even be an application for automation to create a rival to service heavy “white-glove” models.

All of these areas can help to optimize and influence your direct sourcing strategy. While direct sourcing may seem simple to operationalize, building a strong strategy becomes more challenging. Over the next several months I will cover all of these areas in detail to help you best understand the evolving landscape that looks to be one of the most promising contingent workforce strategies of our time.