The concept of “total talent management” seeks to integrate all aspects of workforce management from temporary agency workers and traditionally hired permanent employees to independent contractors and some types of outsourced services. It could even include robotic workers in certain instances.

Total talent management aims to allow companies better insight into both workforces while allowing companies to meet either spikes or reductions in demand as well as balance labor costs and workforce agility.

However, this area is still evolving.

“It’s barely out of the swamp yet,” says John Nurthen, executive director of global research at Staffing Industry Analysts. “There are few examples of practical implementation, but it is an area where a lot of buyers and a lot of suppliers know they have to focus on.”

Some staffing buyers are using parts of it, but it’s not yet being implemented in its entirety, Nurthen says. One hallmark of total talent management can be combining MSP and RPO, but it goes behind that to treating the whole workforce holistically.

“Total talent management to me as a buyer, not a systems person, is just understanding how we are using talent,” says Dan Khublall, director, global contingent labor, professional services sourcing, Thomson Reuters.

That means proactively looking at and planning for which resources are best, whether in-house, hiring contingent workers or outsourcing, Khublall says. What is the ideal mix of permanent and contingent workers and do you have the right balance for the job or project that needs to get done?

The workforce is driving in the direction of total talent management, he says. The workforce has become more transient and workers, especially younger ones, care about what projects they will work on rather than a company’s brand.

Peggy O’Neill, director of staffing, contingent workforce, at Disney, says her organization has begun putting in place total talent management.

“It’s in its infancy, we are trying to build a strong foundation of using the right systems,” O’Neill says. “Our vision is for total workforce management.”

Contingent workers are just as important as traditionally hired full-time workers, you need to have visibility on and manage both, O’Neill says. If a contingent worker isn’t a good fit, it could impact other workers — including permanent workers. If there’s a great contingent worker, an organization can lose out by not properly managing them.

Total talent management isn’t necessarily focused on savings, O’Neill says. Rather, it is to get better service, get the best talent and allow hiring managers better visibility on spend. That means getting the most out of spend.

But to put a plan in place, all stakeholders must be involved.

“If you’re going to do it you have to make sure you have the necessary stakeholders involved you can’t do it in a silo,” O’Neill says. Contingent workforce managers must have support from the C-suite and others.

“Most people buy into the concept but it’s making establishing the program and getting that strong foundation, it’s easier said than done,” O’Neill says. “I’m lucky because the executives at Disney believe in this so we have their support to build this out.”

Stephen Clancy, director of contingent workforce strategies knowledge and research at Staffing Industry Analysts, suggested in a recent story the way to go might be to roll out total talent management initiatives on a gradual manner with manageable initiatives.

And while total talent management might be in its early stages, more research is also being done. Staffing Industry Analysts is at the forefront of those conducting further research into this emerging trend.