This week, Staffing Industry Analysts released its 2015 VMS service and features differentiators report to CWS Council members. This report provides the most comprehensive review of where technology is evolving in our industry and how today’s providers are innovating to create the next-generation VMS that promises to fundamentally alter how work gets done.

VMS names like Chimes, Itility and White Amber rode the first wave that revolutionized how companies could leverage their contingent workforce.  At the same time, while some staffing providers embraced VMS, many providers still lament the way the tool has changed their business.  The fact is, sophisticated management strategies that address statement-of-work (SOW), recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and total talent management (TTM) would not be possible without the robust technological layer that comes from a good VMS partner.

But there’s more to come. Here’s what’s on the horizon in terms of product innovation and capability from VMS providers.

  1. Mobile. The combination of increasingly flexible work arrangements coupled with the expanding usage of mobile technology, such as tablets and phones across buyers and suppliers alike, requires improved ease of access to contingent workforce functions as well as general visibility. Providers such as IQNavigator, PRO Unlimited and Provade have developed iOS and/or Android apps to facilitate the management of a contingent workforce.
  2. Independent contractor management. A few providers have focused on improving the vetting process of contractors or IC management, like iSymphony and PeopleFluent, while others like Netive have developed portals to identify and attract this population of workers.
  3. RFX/SOW. SOW-based services functionality continues to improve year-over-year as buyers continue to develop the management of SOW services within the VMS space. Innovations related to documentation publication features, in-tool negotiation capabilities, improved configurability and enhanced supplier performance capture are emerging from recent development efforts by VMS providers such as Beeline, IQNavigator and Fieldglass.
  4. Global requirements. As contingent workforce programs expand globally, VMS providers must be able to meet the complex regional requirements such as rate structure (daily, monthly), pay parity rules, taxation, and other regulatory requirements. Providers such as Fieldglass, Beeline, 3 Story Software and Safe Computing have focused innovation efforts on such features to encourage and facilitate further global expansion.
  5. Program management. Several providers such as Fieldglass and Provade have focused their efforts on facilitating the management of the contingent workforce program through an internal PMO or external MSP.
  6. Integrations. VMS solutions are becoming increasingly integrated into clients’ internal infrastructure with the objective of achieving further efficiencies through automations. The ability to achieve such an integrated solution depends not only on the provider’s integration capabilities but also on IT resource availability and expertise on the buyer side.
  7. Talent management.  The concept of total talent acquisition (TTA) is gaining a foothold across many organizations as buyers seek to more strategically address resource needs for their business through diverse channels such as full time employee, SOW services, outsourced/managed services and contingent/temporary.

The report provides an industry-defining, detailed review of the state the VMS technology at the end of 2014, but the fact remains that the industry continues to increase rapidly in sophistication and capability. Many buyers, including some sophisticated ones, will be hard pressed to make sense of it all. To this end, I plan to dedicate several upcoming articles to a few innovations that came to light that we were unable to recognize in the report. The purpose of this will be to acknowledge those VMS leaders that continue to create cutting-edge solutions and redefine what’s possible in contingent workforce management.