Total talent management has long been considered the holy grail for contingent workforce programs, but getting programs to that state has been difficult. One reason for the struggle is poor visibility into data for all talent types, which hinders the ability to make informed decisions into which talent channel makes the best sense for given talent needs.

Having perm data and contingent data available for analysis enables buyer organizations to determine the best path for utilizing all talent. For example, they will be able to better determine when a full-time headcount makes sense based on factors like rate, duration, skills or if a contingent solution is best based on the talent not being needed for a long period of time or if the skills are not core to the buyer organization.

Advanced programs can strategically determine the right workforce mix based on data that is inclusive of all talent types. Programs managing or aligned with all talent types typically have a single point of contact — a concierge — who guides the manager to the right place to source talent, whether that be perm or contingent labor.

Getting the data. The industry has done a great job of collecting and acting upon staff augmentation data for almost two decades, but programs continue to grapple with other forms of talent acquisition. Perm data, in particular, generally is siloed within HRIS systems and not easily accessible to be matched to contingent labor. Some buyer organizations mistakenly believe there are legal repercussions associated with matching and comparing perm and contingent labor data, but other organizations are overcoming those fears and removing barriers so they can manage all talent in more strategic ways.

Data alignment. Once that data is accessed, the metrics across perm and contingent labor need to be matched — but that often is an apples-and-oranges comparison. It is common for buyers to struggle with aligning job titles and descriptions across all talent types. To accomplish this alignment, buyer organizations must make a strategic investment, which in turn requires gaining approval from senior leadership. SIA’s Certified Contingent Workforce Professional program places a heavy emphasis on a strategic decision-making methodology called VICA, about which I wrote in a previous CWS 3.0 article. The elements of VICA are:

  • V = Value
  • I = Investment
  • C = Capability
  • A = Authority

For buyer organizations to be able to move forward with collecting and mapping perm data, senior leadership will have to give this project their blessing while empowering teams to move forward.

Once this is achieved and a strategy is in place to collect and map perm data to contingent data, there is still a lot of work to do. Scrubbing and organizing data requires data expertise and time. Gaining alignment of perm data to contingent data will require scrutiny and long-term oversight. Part of a good data strategy includes plans for outliers and the management of outliers. Many buyer organizations have outsourced this level of effort to organizations with data scientists who as experts know and understand talent data at certain levels.

The pandemic boost. Overall, the movement toward total talent management may have been goosed a bit by the current pandemic, which has provided tremendous challenges for buyers of talent, but has also expedited conversations within buyer organizations to start creating total talent strategies much sooner than anticipated. Workforce mix could be a key driver for buyer organizations to be able to become more efficient and cost conscious with all talent decisions during these tough times.