Last week, during Staffing Industry Analysts’ CWS Summit North America conference in San Diego, we had conversations with many buyer organizations including CW program leaders. It became clear that the mature, top-performing, and strategic CW programs have a few things in common. Here’s a checklist of these commonalities.

EARLY ADOPTERS. Many of these programs are now pursuing opportunities to leverage chatbots and artificial intelligence to keep moving their CW programs forward and upward. These CW program leaders have been early adapters for new approaches within our industry leveraging direct sourcing; advanced analytics; hybrid (different) manager contact methodologies; strong supplier rationalization and optimization strategies; and simple, yet strong, escalation processes, to name a few.

HIGH FUNCTIONING. Advanced programs also perform at high levels, with basic blocking and tackling also being handled within the program. Basic items include onboarding and offboarding of workers, maintaining strong risk mitigation via audit and tracking of terms and conditions. The programs’ office/MSP personnel are strong, dedicated professionals who believe in their programs’ purpose and help take it forward. These individuals are connected with the various functional areas — for example, legal, security, marketing, finance, talent acquisition and human resources — and this helps drive communication and shared responsibility of tasks to ensure the little things are not falling through the cracks.

EXEC BUY-IN. Most high-performing programs have a mission statement that is approved by the buyer’s senior leadership. It is more common for CW programs to be viewed as noise and something that must exist. Support from senior leadership is often a missing component for these programs. Companies with advanced programs view the CW program as a strategic element within their business portfolio and see it as an opportunity to drive the company employment brand and deliver results to the bottom line. Among these advanced programs, it is not uncommon for their companies to have made investments in individuals who wear the CW program leader hat as 100% of their duties — a full commitment to the contingent workforce space.

SELF-AWARE PROGRAM OWNER. Self-awareness is a must-have for CW program leaders. A self-aware owner of a buyer’s CW program can provide tremendous value in that these leaders know their program can always improve despite current weaknesses. The ability to identify challenges and/or weaknesses is an important attribute for CW programs to have in order to advance. Beyond process and technology, reviewing CW program talent and ensuring the right attitudes and behaviors are both present and consistent is paramount.

STRONG STAKEHOLDERS, PARTNERS. Finally, strong-performing programs have well-respected stakeholders with the authority to make tough decisions. These individuals are often well-connected to buyer business leaders and have a strong sense of what the business needs, which can lead to support for the vision and long-terms goals specific to the CW program. These leaders also believe in supply chain partnerships. The value of partnership goes well beyond what a contractually vetted vendor may bring to the table. These partners have a confidence and ease to share their perspectives with CW program leaders, as they are seen as part of the overall program strategy.

I recommend CW leaders go through this checklist and ask themselves if they can answer yes to these items. And if you are unable to do so, now is the time to start doing what it takes to move in the right direction. At a minimum, you will begin to move toward self-awareness.

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