With the emergence of multiple talent sourcing channels in today’s contingent workforce marketplace, a new best practice knowledge needs to be established around when and why to use each channel.. This best practice knowledge would only require a few core questions and answers, but the call to arms here — understanding when and why to use a specific talent sourcing channel — needs to be second nature so your contingent workforce program can best determine how and where to engage top talent.

As a rule, this understanding should start with the wants and needs of the CW engagement itself. As you define the key requirements of an engagement and determine the best manner to meet those requirements for an engagement manager, some fundamental questions may come to mind, including:

  • Is there a defined timeline for the work or project?
  • Is there known talent that we can engage for this work?
  • Do we need an individual’s skill set expertise or a company’s solution methodology?

The Iron Triangle, or Triple Constraint, is a model of the constraints of project management.

The iron triangle. These exact questions might not always be applicable, but understanding the core value elements of the Iron Triangle — also known as the Triple Constraint — is important in framing the wants and needs of an engagement by prioritizing what is most important with regard to cost, speed and quality. In most cases, the engagement design theory has difficulty delivering on all three of these values in the same engagement, so what is most important should be the critical engagement design focus. Of course, it’s not impossible to deliver on all three, but these solution values can conflict with each other and compromise one of the three solution values considered. Note, for most CW engagements, the application of this solution design theory is executed in a moment of reflection by experienced, CW industry professionals — second nature best practice knowledge.

Talent sourcing channel portfolio. The most common elements of an emerging talent sourcing channel’s portfolio are traditional staff augmentation, direct sourcing, statement-of-work engagements and on-demand platforms. One can argue other talent sourcing channels need to be mentioned or that the above list should be consolidated into fewer categories because of overlapping marketplace activity, but the important point is to settle on what talent sourcing channels are operating in your organization and build out an execution knowledge base on why and when to use them. Take the time to examine and understand the competitive advantages and comparative disadvantages of each of these talent sourcing channels to determine which one will optimize the delivery values of CW engagement requirements.

So how do you build this knowledge insight in your CW program? One age-old manner is through the professional experience built up over time. However, a quicker approach is to use some performance framework to build an understanding of how a particular talent sourcing channel performs compared to the others.

In that vein, you might consider the four key performance management dimensions of quality, efficiency, cost and risk. SIA’s QECR Performance Framework focuses on program performance management with the maturity and capability required to deliver that performance managed in a separate but integrated strategy plan narrative.

The suggestion here is to apply these (or more) performance framework elements to each established talent sourcing channel operating in an organization and make comparative judgments on which channel offers the best quality service, which is more cost effective and/or which will most quickly deliver the CW engagement solution.

Using a one-to-four ranking scale, you can create a value baseline, even if it represents mostly a perception. This baseline perception will quickly evolve into professional knowledge once real performance data demonstrates the comparative performance value of each talent sourcing channel.

How would you distribute these ranking values across these four talent sourcing channels, and would that ranking change for different types of skill sets of a CW engagement?

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

Assign value rank from 1 (lowest) to 4 (highest). Use value rank only once in any row.

CW program management professionals, whether enterprise organizations’ program leaders or those that support buyers’ CW programs, have a tremendous amount of professional knowledge built up over time through hard-won experience and establishment of  reliable management best practices. Now is the time to understand the operating performance values of various talent sourcing channels and use that knowledge to optimize your CW engagements to a new level of performance.