Anyone who ever tried to convince their parents to let them do something or get something based on “everyone else” reasoning can attest that, while hard to accept at the time, their parents were usually right not to give in. And as annoying as it can be now, the same holds true when it comes to implementing changes within contingent labor programs. Just because it seems like “everyone else is” doing something, it does not necessarily mean that “it” is right for your program or your organization.
For example, we have had several program managers ask, “How do I add SOW spend or human cloud/gig provider spend into our program scope?” When we ask in return, “Why? What business problem are you trying to solve?” they often don’t know why other than they think they should because it seems every other program is doing it.
When considering any type of change within a program, a good starting point is to understand why the change needs to happen. What is the underlying reason for the program, the organization and the stakeholders to incur the change — and can you articulate that reason to others? Even if it is easy for you, the program manager, to understand why, it may not be as easy for others.
As program managers, we live and breathe trends, compliance, costs, risks and the many other nuances of contingent labor. But others within the organization do not, and we have to be able to educate and sell them. They need to see what’s in it for them or what the return on investment for the organization will be. So how does a program manager provide that?
Start with the four critical areas that are associated with a contingent labor program: quality, efficiency, cost and risk (QECR). Utilizing the QECR Framework can enable you to focus on how the change will affect or hopefully improve the stakeholders’ jobs:
Quality. Will this change impact the quality? So often when speaking of quality, we think of the candidate or worker quality and output but will the change possibly improve the quality of your suppliers or even your overall program performance quality?
Let’s look at my initial example in this article: adding SOW to the scope of the program. Will doing so allow the quality to improve? It’s possible having the visibility to the projects, suppliers and the contracts will enable the program to improve the supplier quality by ensuring the company is utilizing and is contracted correctly with qualified SOW providers. It is not uncommon for a program to be utilizing staff aug suppliers that are not contractually obligated in a correct manner, or SOW for work that should be done as staff aug, either of which could affect the other areas of the QECR Framework. If we don’t have the right contracts and requirements, it could trigger risk concerns if something should go awry.
Efficiency. Efficiency pertains not only to the processes that we associate with the program but also in how we work with the supplier or the better yet, the candidate. Will the considered change improve this?
Let’s consider adding human cloud/gig arrangements to the program. Efficiency could be improved if utilized correctly and if your organization is prepared to engage candidates in this fashion. It may allow the program to be more efficient in identifying and engaging candidates who would not normally be presented to you by a traditional staffing provider, as these candidates often are not in that job-seeking realm. This can be very beneficial, especially if your program struggles to get candidates in certain geographies or with certain job categories.
Cost. It is very rare that an organization or a stakeholder will welcome a change that is going to be more expensive to get work done, so will this change reduce costs?
It is a common thread in conversations to hear that an organization spends large sums on SOW. If the CW program had visibility to the spend they could reduce costs. I always caution them with this statement as this may be harder to do than just say, “You are paying too much for this type of work.” Many times, these projects are critical to the organization, have greater visibility and are usually time sensitive. The cost savings or cost correction that you envision the program can deliver may take a while to come to fruition. However, if we were considering the human cloud, it is possible that the program could deliver cost savings more easily or quickly.
Also, remember that implementing change can be costly. Whether it is expanding into SOW or adding a human cloud provider, there will be associated costs, such as with required system enhancements and integrations, user fees and training.
Risk. This is usually the one area that most stakeholders and executive leadership have a hard time ignoring. Will this change reduce risk? Being able to implement a change that could reduce risk or provide risk avoidance is hard not to consider unless the probability and the impact of the risk are so low that the time and effort to implement the change far outweigh the potential cost if the risk were to occur.
If a CW program states that it wants to add SOW into its scope as it feels there is risk of misclassification or inadequate vendor contracts, it’s quite possible that the organization cannot ignore it, especially if there is a substantial amount of spend or activity in this category.
On the other hand, adding the human cloud to your program scope may increase your risk, because classification and employment laws vary greatly by geography. It would become your responsibility to keep track if you engage talent in multiple locations, and you’d need to work closely with your HR and legal teams as there is no staffing provider to navigate that for you.
So remember, just like when we were young and our parents didn’t buy the whole “everyone else is” we must be the adult here and realize that although change is constant (and many times a good thing) to want to implement a change just because “everyone else is” is not the right reason.