Developing or modifying a contingent workforce program can be a painful experience that requires a detailed communication plan coupled with a solid project plan. That becomes even more the case when you want to fold in statement-of-work (SOW) or project services spend. It is sure to be met with resistance, perhaps even more than any previous program change. Those whose jobs will be most affected will typically take the “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?” attitude. So the first step is in being able to explain why it is important to incorporate SOW and targeting who in the organization cares.
Risk. The first group that may care would be those that want to mitigate risk, such as those who are responsible for contracts, security, benefits, safety, indemnification, intellectual property, human resources and more. To mitigate risk, you need to consider all of the areas where you might be exposed. Physical risk around building and systems access are obvious, but there’s also risk associated with intellectual property protection, errors and omissions, and health and safety that can affect the business’ ability to get insurance. There’s also the risk of class-action lawsuits that typically falls around employee benefits or pay.
So what does this have to do with incorporating SOW into the contingent program? Because your program has in place risk-mitigation practices that can be transferable across those workers engaged via an SOW contract, such as on/offboarding, background checking, document tracking and storage. Highlighting risk mitigation may be the path of least resistance to get started with this complex category of work. Your program can track SOW workers and all they have access to; whether they have company assets; and any necessary documents supporting non-disclosure, current certifications, or credentials provide the necessary check and balances to support any audit process.
Reward. Once you have collected all of the necessary information for a given worker, it is that much easier to track information regarding the contract itself. The next step is simply approval and tying the worker to contract. Then you begin to get a picture of the level of spend by department, supplier and service category. The key message here is transparency. Once you see what is happening in one place, you can begin to use the information to influence positive change.
Change management is by far the hardest part of this journey and one that requires constant communication with stakeholders. Legal will be comfortable that there is a single repository for the contracts governing the services. Security will revel in the fact that they will know when to terminate access to systems and buildings as workers leave. At some point along the journey, someone in procurement, finance or executive leadership will care that you know how much is being spent via SOW contracts and with which suppliers, knowledge that will enable you to leverage spend for similar services with fewer suppliers. Suddenly transparency translates into the opportunity to make more informed decisions and reduce cost.
If your financial approval chains are the same with your SOWs as they are with other contingent labor categories, you may have the opportunity to manage the financial approval process via your vendor management system (VMS). If your VMS has enables you to redline documents between the supplier and your company, you will have a clear audit trail of approvals and contracts associated with an SOW and the workers, access and assets associated with that SOW. If your VMS has the capability, you should be well-positioned to handle the financial transactions associated with the SOW and potentially consolidate the billing. Again, transparency translates into opportunity and eventually you have reached the end of the journey and you may be positioned to manage the competitive bidding process via the RFX module of your VMS.
Why bother? Who cares? You can enable others in the organization to become heroes by mitigating risk, providing sufficient audit trails and saving money. Company-minded employees should care.