As I mentioned in my last column, total talent management (TTM) is one of the most debated topics in the marketplace today. Debate notwithstanding, the big question is what are some of the cost savings opportunities and associated risks with this workforce management strategy? Last week, I discussed two. Here are a few more opportunities and their associated risks.

Vetted talent/service skills. Today, every midsize to large organization has highly skilled contingent workers in their organization. This contingent worker (CW) talent is engaged as staff augmentation to independent contractor to retirees and skill service/solution organizations. A good percentage of them can be loyal to a handful of organizations, depending on tenure rules and ongoing “vetted” talent management policies and processes.

Primary cost savings come from avoidance of redundant sourcing and vetting fees. Because outstanding CW talent/skillsets are already or have engaged successfully through-out the organization, why replicate the sourcing process to hunt for talent you already know? Additionally, cost savings from avoiding unproductive CW engagement failures may be viewed as cost savings, but in most cases they are probably viewed as only soft savings at best, but are important nonetheless. Some look to potential savings from internally managing vetted talent in-house with a payrolling arrangement for additional engagements, but in the end will require some ongoing administrative talent management that will cut into the gross savings one might originally forecast. It’s important to remember, staffing partners do more than just source and pay CW talent. They provide a talent service and are required to provide service continuity if the CW engagement stutters or fails.

The risks with vetted talent are similar to those mentioned with the conversions and silver medalists initiatives I discussed last week, such as management of the contingent worker’s privacy, candidate interest permissions and candidate ownership. There will also be change management risk with introducing compatible tenure policies and mitigation of co-employment risks, real and imagined. Finally, there might be different initiative considerations when dealing with vetted talent that were engaged by the organization via different worker classifications and formats, i.e., staff augmentation versus independent contractors versus statement-of-work talent, etc.

Enabling technology integration. When most people think of a TTM workforce management strategy they immediately think of the integration of the contingent workforce management program and the permanent hiring management process. With this total workforce program management strategy would be the natural integration of the enabling management technologies involved, specifically the VMS and the ATS systems. One would expect some important costs savings available here as a basic consolidated system business transaction, but also from the elimination of one-off, integrated enabling capabilities that would support TTM strategies initiatives. All the workforce data (CW and permanent) will reside in one available system of record. Hence, one-off applications, data-transfer integrations/maintenance and manual spreadsheet-supported processes can be potentially eliminated.

The big risks here are general in nature. Instead of working with a stand-alone, best-in-class system vendor for the CW program management and a separate best-in-class system for in-house hiring process management, one of these workforce management programs might have to compromise some system capabilities/features to go with the one integrated platform option. Comparably this is also a lot of “sustainability” responsibility to place in one technology platform. If one component of the integrated application fails because of the poor enabling system management technology then the change out is a much bigger decision. Needless to say, today this is also a global, complex decision.

Similar to any CW program management change, securing adoption across the business organization will take effort, time and creative change management/marketing. If one gets the program policy, process and visibility right, this will be the beginning of maximizing savings opportunities by achieving high levels of participation across the organization.

A combination of the savings opportunities available with a total talent management program strategy could be transformative if one carefully manages the required investments and associated risks when implementing TTM business initiatives.