Imagine being a category lead who, after undergoing a rigorous, 12-month process for a global MSP, from RFI to contract signature, proclaims, “The contract is signed, processes are in place, and the program has been launched; the MSP will manage the show from here and I’m off now to focus on something new.”

Many category leads make this mistake, assuming once this mammoth task is complete, their work is done for the next three to five years.

But no matter how hard you try, you cannot control the outside world. Things evolve and change. And too often, the success of many contingent workforce programs is pinned on false assumptions about what the future will hold — and developed so rigidly around those assumptions that they are set up to fail.

Go with the flow. For example, I have seen countless examples of attempts to predict future pay rates. It’s understandable, as programs strive to set benchmarks and budget. But I have seen enormous spreadsheets — with thousands upon thousands of cells with low/medium/high pay rates — simply end up in the bottom drawer never to see the light of day again because the market is what the market is. And a program that is too rigid to accommodate rate fluctuations is at a disadvantage, because talent and even staffing suppliers may start to go elsewhere if your program fails to keep up.

Yes, programs need to have guidelines and parameters in place, but they also need to have an exception process or a system for reevaluating rates to ensure the program is keeping up.

Work alongside the MSP. Another situation where a program needs flexibility would be in the case of suppliers within the program. Yes, the MSP will manage the suppliers you’ve spent many months vetting. Yet a lot can change in three to five years, and your supplier list might need to be evaluated. Likewise, a project need might arise that justifies seeking out new suppliers — perhaps your current list cannot meet demands or acquire specific skills. Your MSP should certainly be in the car, but you should be in the driver’s seat.

One way to avoid the overly rigid trap is to go with hybrid solutions. I do think this is something program managers can count on in the future. Along with your partners develop a hybrid delivery model with flexible solutions that you can turn on and that you can turn off. That is the way of the future.

There are many ways that you can set this up: by division, by country, by skills, by PSLs, sub-MSPs, master vendors, bringing in the Human Cloud. There are many ways, but the challenge of course is controlling and monitoring all of this seemingly complex solution.

Tech support. I believe that technology will be the enabler of people. It will continue to develop to support ever more complex delivery models, whether it’s VMS, HRIS or online staffing platforms, tomorrow’s talent will engage more with your organisations using technology than traditional methods.

So push your MSPs and staffing partners to automate and engage with technology where recruitment cycle tasks are mundane and repetitive and allow them to focus the human effort where human interaction is valued. Focus on hybrid solutions, powered through technology, and create a much more mature contingent workforce program that can deliver in the face of whatever the world throws at it.