After many years of building and optimizing the “value of centralization” offered by an organization’s contingent workforce program, that very value proposition is at risk of being significantly diminished by the digital transformation currently sweeping across the CW marketplace in the form of talent platforms.

Talent platforms deliver a more frictionless sourcing service that directly connects engagement managers with CW talent. Hence, they stand to become a major talent-sourcing channel for programs’ staff augmentation talent as well as for tail spend, SOW projects and service engagements. While such a shift won’t happen overnight, it is on the way to taking over a significant share of the talent sourcing activity in CW programs and the organizations they serve.

This is not the first industry to face such dramatic change — for example, the landline telephone business, the global call center industry and banking services all have experienced significant transformation due to technological developments. So why wouldn’t the sourcing of staff augmentation, and even SOW projects and services, move online?

Alternative channels. Obviously they would. But CW programs can offer many more benefits including distinct talent-sourcing channel capabilities that can tap different groups of talent. For instance, CW programs are starting to create these capabilities in an effort to enhance cost effectiveness, increase quality and reduce risks. With the ongoing development of CW program management practices and capabilities and the simultaneous evolution of CW talent marketplace access points, multiple, unique talent sourcing channels have emerged and are now being formally established and leveraged by CW program management.

Sometimes referred to as a multi-sourcing talent strategy, four of the more distinct talent sourcing channels today are: traditional staffing partner sourcing; SOW/services sourcing; direct sourcing; and on-demand/online staffing, talent platform sourcing channels.

Management plan. The key CW program management practice here is to recognize the emerging formation of these alternative talent sourcing channels and establish a management plan to leverage the benefits and operational requirements of each. It’s important to consider a management plan if one of these talent sourcing channels becomes the primary go-to channel for engagement managers and the buyer organization as a whole.  While direct sourcing would be a good thing for enhancing the “value of centralization,” on-demand/online-staffing talent platforms would not be.

Regardless, here are some best practices that a CW program should be executing:

  1. Understand which talent sourcing channels provide the best solution value for each and every CW requisition requirement. Become a subject-matter expert in leveraging the optimal talent sourcing channel for an engagement manager’s CW wants and needs.
  2. Even if digital transformation is decentralizing some of the execution control of the CW program, assert the organization’s standard operating procedures in terms of costs, quality and risk requirements with any staffing vendor or channel that operates within the business. The idea here is to continue to do the good work of vendor management and authorize and manage the use of a given talent sourcing channel with the CW program and buyer organization’s standard engagement management practices and operating requirements.
  3. Establish a clear understanding of the different types of CW workers and engagements that take place in the organization. Create a comprehensive talent worker classification matrix tool that ranges from full-time to any and all CW workers types so that you can apply that knowledge to optimize talent sourcing channel usage and engagement management.
  4. Become an expert in the pros and cons of the established talent sourcing channels in your CW program and organization. Apply a value assessment tool, such as SIA’s QECR performance management methodology below, to assess and quantify strengths and weaknesses of each talent sourcing channel. Then leverage that knowledge to promote the most optimized solution for an engagement manager’s contingent workforce wants, needs and requirements.

QECR Performance Management Methodology

Which channel provides the highest value across each QECR driver element?

At the end of the day, there is an important empowerment that comes with a CW program’s value of centralization, but the optimization of CW engagements along performance elements such as quality, efficiency, cost and risk is a more important mission to focus on for the long term.