Contingent workforce programs face different challenges based on their level of maturity and global breadth, but program adoption tends to be a universal challenge for program managers.

Most companies with a large contingent workforce are complex and global organizations. In the absence of a formal program, contingent workforce management is typically very fragmented. Often, each business area establishes its own tools and methods in the absence of a corporate standard. While it might be imperfect, it’s theirs — they built it and they own it. When MSP and VMS solutions are introduced, there can be widespread resistance from end-users purely based on the change implications, even while acknowledging the benefits to the organization as a whole. Solutions that bring policy and regulatory compliance, rate management and other financial controls, aren’t always welcomed.

The only way to gain adoption is through two-way communication. It sounds tired, but it’s true.

Communication must be repeated, via multiple channels, and ideally come from multiple levels of the organization. A single email blast isn’t going to do it, especially for those accustomed to a Wild West environment where new solutions are encouraged but not mandated. You have to go talk to those individuals who you know are unhappy about the changes. You’ve got to listen to their objections and directly acknowledge what they’re giving up in terms of the unlimited flexibility and independence they have now. Only then are you ready to start promoting the benefits.

I’ve worked with dozens of different buying organizations over the past 14 years, first as an MSP and VMS service provider, and then as a consultant at CW advisory firm Brightfield Strategies, before coming to Bloomberg in early 2015. More than once, I’ve seen entire program rollouts come to a standstill because of one key stakeholder digging their heels in. The only way to win them over is through individual and ideally in-person communication, as many times as needed, even if it means addressing the same concerns and answering the same questions over and over again. In most cases, people just want their objections to be heard and acknowledged, and then they’ll start working with you on solutions.