Contingent workforce programs have always been challenged with finding the right balance of investment and capability. While every program strives to be the best in the industry, this often takes investment and buy-in, which can be tough to justify without direct return on investment. In this article, we touch on some of those components that help elevate programs to the level of a competitive differentiator.

Stakeholder support and buy-in. Contingent workforce programs have many stakeholder groups that need to be satisfied in order to garner continued investment in the program’s maturity. Every CW program should identify the stakeholders it interacts with and what each one expects from the program. These groups may have varying interests to juggle, such as legal/compliance focusing on risk mitigation and engagement managers wanting quality of talent and an efficient process. The value drivers of each group may be tough to prioritize and rationalize, which is why organizing these groups into a steering committee becomes an important next step to establish collaboration across these groups and a strategy plan that can help a CW program grow its capabilities.

Governance framework. One of the biggest drivers for CW programs is risk compliance. Over the past several decades, this has been one of the predominant design elements programs were built around. While it is important to mitigate the risk of the contingent workforce population, smart programs are finding ways to craft their governance models in a way that the risk mitigation practices created are not degrading other value drivers such as efficiency and cost. This governance framework should consider the shifting risks in our industry and be agile enough to leverage the right risk mitigation tactics that are required to keep your business safe.

Technology. A well-run program needs a high technology proficiency. Having a platform to automate processes and provide visibility into your workforce isn’t enough. The first technology objective is to optimize your current tech stack. This often requires dedicated resources focused on not just maintenance but also enhancements and sustainability. Next, leading programs should be thinking about their technology roadmap and the applications that could be useful to their organization in the future.

Optimized supplier community. Every organization needs suppliers to help support various portions of the contingent workforce lifecycle. While it may be easy to commoditize our supplier relationships, a more strategic approach finds ways to partner with this community of vendors. Getting to know your vendors and how to best leverage their services will help a company go from good to great.

Total talent strategy. At some point, every contingent workforce program will need to think less about the maturity of a single labor channel and more about the connectivity and agility of the channels working in parallel. When you look across all labor categories, there may be opportunities to leverage common processes and systems to eliminate redundancy. The diversity of our labor creates the challenge of how engagement managers should best engage for work to be completed. Advanced programs will lean into a total talent strategy and be part of the journey to better the company’s overall talent strategy.

Whether your program is trying to build an elite program from the start or you have a long-tenured program looking to mature to the next level, these areas of consideration will help to elevate the contingent workforce function at your organization and make your company a competitive differentiator.