2023 proved a dynamic year for contingent workforce management. From an uncertain economy to significant regulatory changes to AI to new sourcing models and more, program managers had their hands full keeping abreast of the changing environment.

As we approach the year’s end, we take a look at important CWS 3.0 articles written by SIA’s CWS Council and advisory team.

Optimizing your program. We started out the year with a two-part series exploring how to grow your program to the next level. From formal management methodologies to building a community, Chris Paden, senior director of contingent workforce strategies and research, discusses ways to help structure a program for a successful 2023. Part two provides additional ideas, such as embracing total talent and diversifying your workforce.

Finding continued cost savings. As contingent workforce programs mature, their demonstrated savings diminish, but opportunities still exist. Peter Reagan, senior director of SIA’s CWS Council, recommends that program managers examine four key areas and ascertain what hard and soft cost savings are possible within each. He also presents a framework to identify and calculate potential for optimizing adoption success.

Cybersecurity to safeguard your CW program. In today’s interconnected world where technology permeates every aspect of business operations, ensuring robust cybersecurity has become a critical priority for large organizations and their contingent workforce programs, Reagan writes. He discusses five reasons to prioritize cybersecurity and provides 10 actionable steps you can take within your contingent workforce program.

The risks of using a global EOR. Employer-of-record may be sold as a simple solution to your international needs, but it’s a good idea to take stock of what you want the employee to do for your organization and consider if this model provides your business with the level of control and protection you need. It may be simpler and easier in the long run to establish a local entity and employ the worker directly, writes Fiona Coombe, SIA’s director of legal and regulatory research.

The importance of taxonomy to CW program success. A program taxonomy creates an agreed-upon vocabulary used among stakeholders and ensures everyone understands and speaks the same CW business language, writes Lori Telischak, senior manager of contingent workforce strategies learning and development. While achieving a common language takes time, the benefits far outweigh the effort and costs to make this happen.

Building a next-gen program. Transforming into a next-generation program rarely happens overnight, and the journey will look different for every organization, Telischak writes. From storyboarding to overcoming resistance, Telischak provides five tips to help create a path unique to your program and to determine what will help move your organization from its current state to one of greater performance and value.

‘Not my employee’ clause offers the illusion of protection. Staffing contract language meant to exclude contingent workers from an organization’s benefits plan could lead to greater risk. In addition to a false sense of security in terms of excluding contingents from benefits plans, such contract language could put companies at risk in other ways, writes Stephen Clancy, senior director, contingent workforce strategies, knowledge and research.

When co-employment is your financial friend. Often considered a foe to the contingent workforce program, co-employment offers significant financial benefits, and avoiding it can put your program in peril. Co-employment is not illegal and is only a risk if one does not understand it and consequently loses sight of how to manage it or take advantage of its potential benefits, Clancy writes. Some of those benefits are financial as a matter of risk mitigation.

Determining program ownership. There is no single right way to determine program ownership, but this three-part series by Regan, Paden and Frank Enriquez, senior manager of contingent workforce strategies and research for the Americas, examines three options, explaining when, where and why it makes sense to utilize each model. HR has the largest representation among the buyers surveyed by SIA; procurement provides structured cost management and a focus on control and oversight; and sometimes finance, IT or your program management office are better suited than either HR or procurement.

Why direct sourcing solutions fail or succeed. The direct sourcing concept is gaining in popularity, with buyer organizations hoping to find cost savings and better leverage their talent brand. An article by Paden and Enriquez explores what contingent workforce programs can learn from others’ failures and missed opportunities. A second story examines how programs can build their next-generation direct sourcing programs to be successful.

AI or human? Determining which best suits your process steps. Regulators are keeping a close eye the use of artificial intelligence in hiring, with concerns ranging from privacy to equity and inclusivity issues to the possibility of AI unfairly screening out candidates. However, you can still pursue the use of AI in your business operations, writes Lisa Fox, director of strategic solutions. She discusses where and when to apply such technology to your operations.

Retention: Keeping contingents engaged and on board. Attracting quality talent is just the beginning, as quality contingent workers have multiple staffing firms vying for their attention and a multitude of job opportunities coming their way. Fox discusses the many ways to keep contingents focused on your job assignment and the tools available to keep them happy.

Four ways to fund SOW projects. SOW operational costs can vary and are often complex, Enriquez writes. Enterprise buyers do have some options to consider when it comes to their SOW project management pricing models, with each bringing their own potential strengths and weaknesses. It is important to consider the variables and determine which pricing model best supports you and your organization.