A key contingent workforce program design and implementation step is to create the governing policies and procedures for the program’s management operation and execution. These are the CW program operation rules and guidelines that define large and small operating standards of the CW program. Although governance policies and procedures will vary by the organization and the program office’s strategic focus, there are some best practices that remain consistent whether you are launching a new program or transforming an established, mature program.

These best practices should be easily accessible and clearly defined so that they are not ambiguous or open to interpretation. They should include an exception policy that clearly describes when and how an exception approval must be obtained. Further, the best practices should be reviewed every six to nine months and updated when necessary, because the environment in which a program operates changes constantly.

In addition to these common design and execution best practices, program management should design procedures and rules with the concept of deliberate “policy confidence.” Policy confidence is a determination of the probability and sustainability of the success of prescribed policy’s value to the organization. It is confidence that the policy has been designed and structured well and will deliver the value that is intended for all stakeholders. Not all program policies sustain their value delivery over time. Some must be reviewed, revised, replaced or eliminated.

For example, far too many corporate CW program managers focus on compliance (legal and operational) when designing and managing program rules, policies and procedures. While this is a fundamentally sound management approach, a more advanced strategy is to measure the integrated/competitive trade-off value a policy will deliver to the programs’ stakeholder community from various ROI perspectives.

Eventually, mature CW programs’ policies and procedures evolve and achieve a natural level policy confidence value after their program stakeholders push the program to adjust its operating practices and policies to support their contingent workforce application needs. Unfortunately, program policy evolution over time is a slow developmental process that can hinder overall program adoption and limit the program value to the stakeholders and the organization as a whole.

Here are some core elements of a policy confidence development approach:

Problem identification. What is the problem and why is it a problem? What is the policy or procedure trying to solve and is this policy/procedure worth the effort by all effected parties for the value it creates to the program and its stakeholders?

Solution. Can the problem be solved through program procedures and addressed in a business-appropriate manner? Are there better alternatives such as training and/or change management that would be more effective in securing the targeted program value objectives?

Empowerment. Are you empowered to implement these policies or traditional practice changes and address the inevitable friction that will emerge with the change? If not, who would be? Some policy changes will be required to deliver the program value required by the stakeholder community, but can’t be executed effectively if no one is organizationally empowered to do so.

Sustainability. Will your organization digest the policy and play by the rules? Some CW programs are blessed with the “mandatory” empowerment proviso where the program’s policy requirements and procedures cannot be questioned. But even in a mandatory environment a program policy has to create value for its stakeholders in the main and the operating culture of the organization. The lack of value will eventually erode the confidence in and ongoing adoption of the CW program.

Worth. Is the solution worth the effort and political capital? Is this policy and/or procedure worth the process participant’s effort for the value created by executing the step. To a degree this can be viewed as a process improvement question/test. What is the value being created by the policy/procedure and is it worth the invested time/effort? Some popular policies that traditionally get this “why bother” review are wasted step of “approvals” (which are very rarely rejected incidentally), tenure policies, and, applying full-time employment HR rules on engaging contingent workforce services.

The core policy confidence design concept is to focus on the value a policy, rule and/or procedure creates for program governance and stakeholders. Certainly, a CW program’s strategic focus, mission and operating model will define/shape the value it has been empowered to deliver. Remember, this is an evolution — policies and rules will need to evolve with program maturity over time if one plans to create and sustain competitive value delivered by today’s CW program.