Last week, I introduced various management models organizations have to choose from for their CW programs. From pure in-house management to hybrid management methods, there are several options. This week, I will discuss two alternative models that are gaining attention in the marketplace: Strategic partner and total talent management.

Strategic partner (Center of Expertise –CoE) CW program:

Strategic partner CoE works with either insourced (PMO) or fully or partial outsourced (MSP). Engagement of an SME or expert level practitioners, and/or even data services provider to provide strategic leadership and management of strategic objectives for the program such as global expansions, implementation, supplier rationalization, rate rationalization and cutting edge best practices across the whole industry not just the MSP client base.

  • Builds a strategic partnership with all parties.
  • Less internal overhead is needed
  • Access to industry information and tools to enhance the CW program
  • CoE is responsible for the strategic management of the programs operations and overall execution
  • CoE can be funded by a small percentage of the program fee or percentage of total spend
  • Trusted partner to oversee programs
  • CoE manages global intelligence, strategy development, sourcing effectiveness, program management, optimizations, technical optimization, training on program best practices and operations, training and communications, implementations, supplier management initiatives, job title taxonomy management, VMS roadmap management, etc.
  • Access to market knowledge
  • Access to cutting edge program best practices and solutions
  • Access to senior industry leaders
  • An established culture of outsourcing
  • Benefit if the program is challenged with:
  1. Lack of resourcing availability or flexibility
  2. Lack of industry knowledge
  3. Weak data analytics
  4. Current program in chaos
  5. Inability to rationalize supply base and rate structures
  6. Competing internal priorities
  • No client appetite or acceptance for third- party program management
  • Additional layers
  • Client environment does not value industry best practices
  • Ability for program to absorb cost for third party engagement

Total talent acquisition management

Commonly referred to as recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), clients recruit both the full-time employees and contingent workers through one recruiting platform and utilize agencies as needed. This model is most commonly adopted in EMEA. If the recruiting team wanted to engage a worker for a contingent assignment they would then utilize a payrolling firm to do so.

Companies leverage their brand and employment reputation to obtain talent and ensure all workers are a match to client culture.

  • Can leverage internal recruitment resources on both programs for sourcing.
  • Access to industry information and tools enhances the CW program by engaging RPO provider experienced in MSP and CW program management.
  • Holistic brand management and messaging for the organization, and not just the CW program.
  • Holistic talent management strategy and global engagement process
  • Increased cultural and values fit to the organization by central recruitment for the all types of labor
  • Greater utilization of global market knowledge across all types of labor
  • Improve access to / retention of key skills
  • Improve workforce flexibility / agility
  • Improve workforce productivity
  • Reduce labor cost
  • Supply base may be less motivated since they are competing against the RFP sourcing team
  • Client’s recruitment team may not want to integrate both programs
  • Senior management may not be aligned with total talent management strategy
  • Internal barriers include conflicting department priorities and inconsistent operating processes
  • Lack of centralized recruitment functions prevents seamless execution
  • Limited technology options exist to support this model


For more information about the total talent management model, see Staffing Industry Analysts’ recent report (PDF download).

How do companies decide on a model?

The first step in deciding on which model works best for your company is to evaluate current state and assess program maturity. For instance, a company whose program is low on the maturity curve may benefit from utilizing an MSP to create processes and procedures based on industry leading practices. Other companies choose to manage their program internally from inception because they believe that internal employees are more likely to construct a program that is consistent with the company’s culture than their external MSP counterparts. These companies often engage a strategic partner to help them build their operations and obtain training on best practices and procedures.

Here are some opinions from industry leaders on how they look at making this decision:

“I think that the decision between in-sourcing and outsourcing needs to be weighed on four things: (1) core competency, (2) cost, (3) control and (4) quality of what services are being provided. Any organization making an in-source/outsource decision has to ask themselves some introspective tough questions about the importance of these areas in their organization. All businesses have different histories, goals and perspectives, and no one-size-fits-all plan exists.

I think there are benefits to both types of programs and you have to simply decide what’s best for your organization even it’s a hybrid. If you are going to do an in-house program, the support people have to be experienced and committed to maintaining a high quality program. The same is true for outsourced programs, however, you will get a lot more done by outsourcing since you don’t have to personally supervise their actions on a daily basis. Best advice I could give anyone would be to go through the process of identifying core competencies and weighing them against their internal or external costs is beneficial in building a solid business case, whether it is to recommend outsourcing or to prove that current in-house services are the most efficient solutions.”

Another opinion:

A great deal of time was spent reviewing options and soliciting feedback from a cross-discipline team spearheaded by HR and legal. The ultimate decision to pursue an externally managed program office centered on core competencies, perceived quality, global support operations as well as speed. Internally it was acknowledged that our culture of analysis and consensus would potentially derail implementation. In addition, it was determined that if built and managed internally it would take significantly more lead time and hard dollar investment. Internally we lacked support resources for the VMS implementation, communications and leader training. An MSP partner brought prior experience that we desired and found valuable. The ability to partner with the MSP to select a VMS was preferred as well. Strong drivers included access to an MSP with a proven track record, tactical support and best practices. Additionally, MSP access to big market data and external credibility carried the day.

There are many options and models in the marketplace today for contingent workforce programs. An evaluation of your program maturity will help determine your program’s current state before deciding on direction. Staffing Industry Analysts offers a Contingent Workforce Program Maturity Model assessment tool organizations may use to evaluate their programs. The VMS technology advancements with integration of FMS system and advancements by the MSP is incorporating more sourcing models, and the maturity of the CW management programs is driving change and innovating new solutions for CW program management.