Running a contingent workforce  program today has its own set of complications. And it is often enough to challenge the best and brightest. From gaining enterprise-wide adoption to implementing real-time data integrations with enterprise systems, the complexities are nuanced and if not tackled right, can lead a CW manager down a rabbit hole. Then there are challenges with meeting program-specific objectives with regard to quality, efficiency, cost and risk management performance.

But more often than not, failure to achieve program goals and objectives can be attributed to a weak staffing supplier strategy. The reasons connecting staffing supplier strategy to poor program performance are numerous. Here are a few examples:

  • Engagement managers’ frustration with weak candidates/candidate slates.
  • Inability to fill positions in a required time frame.
  • Comparatively, expensive staffing supplier bill rates.
  • Low responsiveness to requisitions and program compliance requirements.
  • Inability for the program office (internal or external) to achieve strong survey satisfaction results — overall poor program performance.
  • Contractors’ inability to deliver results and meet expectations.

While there may be other contributing factors to the above-listed challenges, the role a poor staffing supplier strategy can play is often overlooked.

Here are a few examples:

  • Supplier surplus. Too many staffing suppliers in a CW program creates inefficiencies specific to competition and sourcing for the winning résumé (from the supplier’s perspective). When staffing suppliers have a one-in-20 chance to fill a position rather than a three-in-five chance, they tend to move their candidate sourcing model execution to a speed/volume game, focusing less on candidate quality. In this current full-employment market, recruiters, workers and the staffing suppliers that represent them are more selective about where to place their time and best efforts, and a program offering a one-in-20 success rate will not get their attention.
  • Talent quality. When the program office and the engagement managers receive poor talent résumés, this slows down the ability to fill positions efficiently and effectively. In addition, engagement managers could select an inferior candidate from the available pool — as they are forced to — and struggle with the workers inability to meet their production expectations.
  • Unhappy engagement managers. Because of weak résumés and the length of time to find the right candidates, engagement managers’ satisfaction declines considerably, not to mention the inability to get the job done or project completed.

Trimming suppliers. Too often, buyer organizations are driven to reduce cost by any means necessary. Competition, through a methodology of “I don’t need you, I have 19 other suppliers who can help me,” sounds like a fantastic way to drive down cost and to hold suppliers accountable. But too much competition in a tight labor marketplace is often a bad idea.

Strong CW programs with fewer suppliers and controlled competition can achieve a balance beyond cost for things like efficiency, quality and risk. Strong CW programs will enable engagement managers to work with three to five suppliers closely through controlled contact, overcoming the perceived process black hole many staffing supplier partners experience from having too many suppliers in a CW program. The results for the program are generally better talent, at a better price and on time.

When CW programs are able to determine the right amount of staffing suppliers and the correct level of competition, these programs can begin to build a CW program brand engagement managers appreciate and support. Additionally, and maybe equally important, staffing suppliers transform into committed staffing partners of the program because of improved profitability on their part and the enhanced, overall cost effectiveness for the program itself.