Incorporating statement-of-work engagements into your contingent workforce program can deliver significant savings and other rewards to your company, but it can be very challenging, especially in terms of getting stakeholder adoption. From your procurement team and engagement managers to suppliers, you are likely to be met with resistance, but by frequently communicating the “quality” management plan, the value proposition for those opposed and the targeted program performance mission and goals, you can bring these stakeholders around to program adopters.
Procurement. When you begin conversations around incorporating SOW into a contingent program, procurement — which typically owns the bidding and contracting process within most organizations — is likely to feel threatened and under the microscope. The key to overcoming this challenge is to be collaborative in your efforts and include them in the conversations early in the process. Make sure you show the value this can bring to their current roles and the efficiencies that will be gained by moving SOW. Incorporate the procurement standards and policies into the SOW program, as this is standard best practice and will ensure there is compliance and adherence to policy.
Engagement managers. When it comes to process, engagement managers are often fine with keeping to the status quo; however, those who tend to circumvent standard process will likely resist efforts to incorporate SOW into the contingent program. Moving to a mandated, standard process can interfere with the direct relationships they have with their “supplier of choice” — who may be overcharging for project work. You can break bad habits by flushing out these rogue spenders when conducting the assessment process. Once identified, your analysis of this rogue spend and the compliance risk for this activity will quickly shed light on hiring managers who may prefer to stay “under the covers.”
But they can be won over. As much as they may not like to follow the standard guidelines, they will listen when you present them with a value proposition they can’t refuse. What you may find with rogue spenders is that most of the “work” they do to bring people on through SOW is done manually and outside of a formalized tool. Demonstrate the value and efficiency that going through the approved process will bring to their day-to-day role and how it will not only help the company but also remove unnecessary work from their workload. Bring them into the fold of conversations early in the game and recruit them as “super users” to help conduct the SOW program rollout. Because they will be the most vocal, they will also be the first to point out any shortcomings or opportunities.
Suppliers. Resistance from suppliers will be inevitable. They will want to negotiate their own terms and conditions and continue to practice business as usual, even after program launch. Getting suppliers onboarded quickly will be the key to success when it comes to an SOW management program. When deciding to bring SOW into a contingent program, you will need to communicate with your suppliers about it, be organized and anticipate their pushback so you can address it head-on. Less resistance can be met when the program is mandated and suppliers are moved in one go rather than in stages, as this can cause gaps and potential duplicate billing.
Let’s face it, suppliers talk to each other. When reaching out to new suppliers who are even less familiar with what an MSP is, make sure you have FAQ documents, in-person meetings or a recorded presentation they can access from a link in your VMS. Larger, more strategic supplier partners may require one-on-one meetings with leadership to help push the message down to the account-level people.
Communication and training. Communication will be extremely important for procurement, engagement managers and suppliers alike. Things can spin out of control quickly if you don’t have a good communication plan and respond immediately to questions and concerns. Make sure you have training sessions, Q&A sessions, FAQs and documentation they can leverage to help them through the process.
Because the value of harnessing SOW spend is too great to ignore, companies are taking the plunge even though the complexity — and often the political sensitivity — of SOW makes it a daunting area to take on. Those organizations that are prepared with a detailed game plan, best practices and a willingness to adapt that plan when needed will likely have the most success.