Geometric Results Inc. (GRI), a holding of Bain Capital Private Equity and wholly owned subsidiary of MSX International, is a US-based independent managed service provider (MSP) with more than $4 billion in managed non-employee workforce spend. Its solutions and services help customers in more than 35 countries manage contracting, supplier management, payment services, and advanced analytics. GRI’s workforce decision analytics platform empowers companies to understand not just their current position, but where the industry is heading and how they can remain relevant and successful. This emphasis on data and analytics allows GRI to focus on bringing its clients a strategic approach to talent acquisition and workforce planning. Subadhra Sriram, SIA’s editor and publisher, media products, caught up with GRI CEO Art Knapp to discuss SIA’s inaugural Contingent Workforce Game Changers list and how those included reflect the industry overall. Last week, we ran part one of that interview. Here is the conclusion.
Q: What do contingent labor and management programs gain when they incorporate true workforce decision analytics? Do you see this as a major industry shift that companies will need to adopt to stay competitive?
Knapp: There are so many dimensions within the data that companies can take advantage of now. Whether it’s where to acquire talent, what’s going to happen with rates, what the relationship is between rates and productivity or rates and time to fill, there are so many new ways we can dissect the data to move beyond standard metrics. Once you begin to look at the data points using a toolset that becomes a model, you can extrapolate other predictive kinds of information.
For one client, we looked at the price of oil to see if changes there affected filling roles. We were able to establish that for each dollar-per-barrel price increase, bill rates went up about 81 cents. We also found the impact of the bill-rate increase was felt about 10 months after the oil price increase. This information also helped the client forecast future labor spend needs.
That model and others created using newly available data can be applied to retail or any other industry. This can help CFOs and CIOs plan for future years and include projects they want to do. This would help them get realistic insights into what the costs are going to be, where they should look for talent, and what the trade-offs might be. This modeling would help them run their businesses more efficiently and compete at a much higher level.
What is the importance of statement of work, or SOW, today? Should new programs consider folding SOW into their existing program scope right from the beginning?
It has baffled me for years as to why this hasn’t been a more of a priority for CW programs. The decision to use SOWs is sometimes driven by high-level relationships. For example, if a CEO knows someone she wants to bring in, diligence and rigor around decision-making can be bypassed. And it’s not until times are bad that companies start to scrutinize SOW. I see two components to this.
For one, the stronger your program, the more SOWs you’ll realize are just time and materials in disguise. By folding SOW into a CW program, you’d catch that. Having a holistic program allows you to use SOWs appropriately and understand the actual rates you’re paying.
The other side of it is there’s a major case for true SOW projects — whether they’re in IT, finance, or whatever the segment might be. It’s amazing that companies spend large amounts of money and have no means of evaluating the quality of their suppliers because they haven’t been placed into a tool. VMS technology has gotten so much more advanced in this area. Now there’s a lot you can do by putting these SOWs into a VMS. I think it makes so much sense for the clients to go this way.
Further, including SOW in the program enables you to standardize the whole contracting process. It’s amazing to me as we get more involved with this business how many of these contracts are written on suppliers’ paper, and how many don’t incorporate key phrases you would want in any contract — whether it’s intellectual property or standard SLAs. So many SOWs are done on a one-off basis. And why wouldn’t you want to roll that into a program to get consistency and the kind of quality you want?
How is GRI addressing these major shifts that we’ve talked about? What services and solutions are offered that directly addressed the aforementioned industry changes?
GRI has invested in working to understand our clients’ business models and how they will fit into our ecosystem. There’s lots of competition out there, so we have to be sure we’re recommending an effective solution. We’re also always innovating, trying new things, generating new solutions and services to meet client needs. Showing that level of commitment helps make clients more receptive to change.
Specifically, we’ve hired a chief data officer and created a workforce decision analytics product, which we call Envision. It’s a core technology platform with a lot of unique tools and an entire department coalesced around it.
Envision allows for truly intelligent decision-making. It goes beyond the basic blocking and tackling, reporting more than what happened. It provides the kind of information and insight that enables users to make strategic, forward-looking decisions. That’s enabled us to really move beyond the day-to-day stuff — this has become a core competency and a differentiator.
And we’ve made the appropriate investments to ensure that that product is world-class and continues to improve. This used to fall under operational reporting, but there wasn’t really a strategy behind it. Now we have a clear strategy, a clear focus, an outstanding leader, and a product that is really second to none.
What has the response been to this?
It’s been unbelievable. Over the past nine months, our chief data officer, Salema Rice, has made about 25 presentations to potential clients and 20 more to existing clients. They all see magnificent value in what she’s doing. One of the things she loves to do is ask them for one or two of their big problems so she can build out data models to address them.
If you’ve been around VMS tools, you know they capture information but aren’t easy to report from, let alone do analytics from. With Envision, we can take all of the data elements from the VMS and put it into our own data factory, then we’re able to maneuver the data in any way that we want. Since we’re not reliant on the VMS for data fields, we can add other forms of data, too. In my 20 years in the industry, this is exponentially more significant than anything else I’ve ever done.
We also have a distinct SOW practice with a dedicated executive — Bob Hicks — who has massive expertise in the SOW area. Our product, Ascend, has multiple layers to it, because there are various starting points for working with SOWs. These products all come with our MSP offering.
For us, it’s been about making these things that we’ve dabbled in into core competencies with the right senior-level leadership — and that’s what we’ve done. It’s our game changer. We’re on pace to have a record year in terms of winning business. I know it resonates in the market and we’re definitely on the right track.
Geometric Results is the sponsor of the CW Program Game Changers list, which was released today. Read about the 48 global industry pioneers, profiled here.