Just as it’s possible for a new company to grow too quickly and falter as a result, the same can be true of a contingent workforce program. And even those that think they are starting small may still be biting off more than they can chew.
Most organizations I have worked with have opted for a staged implementation rather than the big bang. They understood the benefit of taking a staged approach is being able to work out the kinks on a smaller scale. To identify problem areas in the program and address them before the larger user audience becomes involved. However, sometimes the stages into which the rollout is broken still can be quite significant, and the program risks becoming overwhelmed.
For example, a US program opting for a staged European launch chooses the UK as its first go-live market. But the UK, Netherlands and Germany account for roughly 80% of European spend, meaning the program, though trying to start small, chooses one of the largest stages on which to work out the program kinks. Or a program chooses the department that is the heaviest user of contingent labor for the initial launch of a new technology implementation.
Here are some of the reasons organizations should be careful to manage program expansion (and indeed adoption) in a controlled manner. Many of these reasons overlap or are cause-and-effect, and any of them can have dire consequences for the program and the organization as a whole.
Program personnel. There will be an increasing and sometimes unanticipated need for more people within your program. And sometimes, when the program is struggling to manage an overly ambitious launch, this can result in hiring people into the program too quickly, affecting quality of hire.
Alternatively, the program faces increased turnover, which affects all aspects of the program. This involves lost institutional knowledge, productivity, replacement costs. Also, ineffective management can result in senior people taking on additional responsibility themselves such that day-to-day tasks overly depend on them. Mired in daily administrative tasks can lead top personnel to stop spending time on the strategic initiatives that take the program and company forward.
Investment. There will be an increasing need for additional investment. This may be due to rushed decision-making based on personal preferences rather than considered analysis and stakeholder engagement — or may even lead to it. Such as choosing the wrong technology out of desperation in order to manage the too-large bite your program took.
Lost resources. The people that conceived the innovation or expansion are often side-lined or get involved in other projects, resulting in less drive and creativity. A lack of understanding of what the innovation or expansion intended leads to poor results.
Customer service. A program office that struggles to deliver on an overly ambitious launch struggles to deliver the quality of customer service, often as a result of excessive workload and/or poor processes. Quality controls are reduced, billing problems crop up. Internal stakeholders look to circumvent the program.
Poor candidate experience. Just as internal stakeholder dissatisfaction is damaging to a program, poor candidate experience affects the organization’s reputation, which can have a domino effect on the supplier base as well. At the end of the day, the right workers are needed to get the job done. But if the candidates are not being treated appropriately their productivity drops, eroding the company’s effectiveness.
Strategic benefit falters. An overly ambitious effort forces the program office to focus on the short-term rather than long-term objectives of the program and organization.
The bottom line when planning out a new program or an expansion effort is to be careful what you ask for. Problems that crop up during the implementation of a poorly conceived change effort — or overly ambitious one — can snowball quickly, and the program may never recover.
So by all means, think big. But start small — perhaps smaller than you think is necessary. Prepare with careful, strategic planning, taking all eventualities into consideration, and then be prepared to scale quickly once the kinks are worked out for optimum return.