Using data analytics to make real business decisions is critical to the success of any firm, and contingent workforce programs are no exception. But while this field has evolved across most industries, with many companies racing to gather data, the workforce solutions ecosystem is only just branching out. Monument Consulting has tasked AJ Witt, director of business intelligence and analytics, with offering its customers a self-serve analytics tool that provides actionable analytics and insights. Monument begins with using analytical tools to help optimize their clients performance. Here, he discusses the industry’s approach to data analysis, supplier scorecards and Moneyball.
Where do you see the industry today in terms of reporting and analytics?
When you think about the adoption of analytical tools, such as dashboards and business intelligence initiatives, managed service providers are just catching up to other industries. Just in the last few years have we seen MSPs and even VMSs start to get into the business intelligence space and developing analytical tools. Other industries have had them for years. I come from the banking and finance world, so I have seen the differences in timelines when it comes to adopting technology and business intelligence tools.
However, while the MSP industry’s a little behind, we’re catching up.
What makes Monument different from its competitors’ offerings?
We’re bringing fresh ideas to the table and new ways of looking at some of the program performance metrics that have been standard in this industry. While there’s nothing wrong with those metrics, it’s important that we continue to challenge ourselves and look at different ways of measuring a program’s performance.
I use the example of Billy Beane and the movie Moneyball. Twenty years ago, Major League Baseball teams looked at five or six core metrics — such as RBI average, batting average and a few others — plus a few core metrics for pitchers and batters. And then, around 2001, Billy Beane hired a data scientist who introduced many different ways of analyzing players’ performance. It revolutionized how baseball teams analyzed their players.
Now, every team in every sport has a data scientist that analyzes a myriad of metrics and all sorts of diagrams illustrating where they hit the ball and how often they hit the ball here or there. I relate our business to that. I think this industry is just now starting to dive into the use of data science and analytical tools. That’s how we differentiate ourselves, by bringing fresh perspectives to the old-school metrics.
Is there anything in particular that you’re measuring that’s new to the industry?
I wouldn’t say measuring things, nor new measures, but there are new ways of looking at them and presenting data differently. Take the supplier scorecard. This industry has always used a scorecard, and it hasn’t really evolved at all. Coming from the banking business, we measured our mortgage brokers and our clientele in a different way, not just scores.
I won’t go into too much detail and give away our secret sauce, but we are working on some different ways of looking at supplier performance.
Business intelligence is a much-touted term. What do you see as the biggest benefits of BI for your clients?
Business intelligence is a common term and is overly used. In my mind, BI is not just simply a report or a dashboard. Anybody can build a report or a dashboard. Rather, a meaningful BI platform is threefold. First, it’s giving the user, whether it’s an internal or external user, a tool and the power to answer their business questions whenever they want. It could be somebody from finance, maybe it’s somebody in the senior leadership, in the corner office, maybe it’s your staffing provider, or maybe it’s the engagement manager.
Second, it’s about giving the user tools to help guide them to which metrics or measures may require additional analysis. Just giving somebody 35 dashboards to look at is overwhelming for many users.
Last, an ideal BI platform easily enables a user to answer questions about the “why” or “where” behind the “what.” For example, let’s say negative attrition went up by 20%. You’ve got to peel back the layers of that onion. The next question is, where did it happen? Which cost center? Which department? Which engagement manager? When did that happen? Why did it happen?
So, it’s about giving the end user a self-serve tool to peel back the layers of that onion without having to go find a data analyst.
Where do you see the ecosystem headed in the analytics space?
I think we’re going to see analytics continue to evolve within the MSP and the VMS space. I think each VMS and MSP will have their own suite or flavor of analytics. I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we start to see companies build total talent analytic platforms — not just your contingent labor, but also your full-time staff — and bringing those together.
So, I think there’s an opportunity there for somebody to build that model — whether it’s somebody in this industry, or even an outside tech firm coming in and building something like that. It’ll be interesting to see if they take on a life of their own and eventually are offered as a separate service or a separate technology, like a VMS. I can see that happening very easily.
What is one of the biggest challenges in working in reporting and analytics?
Compared with the banking and finance industry, this industry is very simple, in principle. It’s the managing of a program. The complexity comes in when you begin dealing with different VMSs, and different clients with different processes. It’s a huge challenge.
This definitely presents issues when you’re building out analytics platforms. It also causes a lot of manual work in this industry that is typically automated very easily in other industries. I think there’s a point where you can automate things in this industry, but these differences between platforms, between processes and between clients bring a lot of complexities into the analytics space here in this industry.
What are some opportunities for enhanced analytics?
I think one opportunity is marrying up outside data sets with VMS data. There’s a ton of data out there, much of it for free, that could be linked to staffing data for additional insights to help guide staffing decisions, whether it’s census data to help find the right market for a customer to enter, supply and demand data, pay rate data, etc. Bringing these disparate data sources together can help take an analytics platform to the next level. There’s an opportunity there.
I also think there’s a huge opportunity around innovation and getting the industry to think differently. Again, the supplier scorecard is a good example. It’s been around for years, but it hasn’t really evolved much in the six years that I’ve been in the business. It’s always been done very similarly across this industry, and so clients expect a scorecard.
That being said, I think there are other methods of measuring supplier performance that can guide the MSPs and their clients to define more definitive, strategic approaches toward their supplier base.
What might those other ways of measurement be?
You could use a segmentation model where suppliers would fall into different buckets based on certain parameters. And then each segment or bucket has a specific strategic approach to it. Maybe your best bucket is for the suppliers you want to increase business with, and your worst bucket is for suppliers that are going on a watch list or you’re going to remove from the program.
What are Monument’s future plans in BI and analytics?
We are bringing our clients a world-class analytics suite that goes above and beyond your basic metrics used. We’re also bringing new approaches to how we gauge program performance. I’m super excited about the road in front of us here at Monument.
To learn more about how Monument Consulting can help you peel back the layers and get the most out of your program’s performance, contact Maritza Morris, director of business development, at firstname.lastname@example.org.