To be successful, contingent workforce program owners have to be skilled in many areas. They must be well-versed in every aspect of their program from the initial commitments set out in the master services agreement with their MSP to being committed to deliver to their internal customers’ stringent service-level agreements and key performance indicators. They need skills to build up a comprehensive delivery structure and manage a vast array of stakeholders from across the delivery chain and within their own business. They need to be able to understand project management methods, manage change, communications and a plethora of other things.

Another necessary skill is one most do not think of, and that is the courage to say a simple, oft-forgotten word. It is, in my opinion, the most important word that any program owner (indeed, any project manager, for that matter), should have in their vocabulary: “No.”

Whether taking on an existing program for the first time or expanding your existing program into new business entities and geographies, it is important not to simply accept the questionable tools that you are given and be expected to deliver miracles with them.

Take stock. Be careful when committing to deliver anything that is not of your own making. Understand your situation and the tools/resources and stakeholder engagement you have at your disposal, and insist (within reason and with a compelling business case), to be given the tools and resources you believe you are going to need in order to succeed.

To understand what you need, map out where you are and where you need to be. Start with your current state, design the future state, understand what resources you have currently, and do your gap analysis. Then understand what you have that fits your desired future state and how it will help to get you there, know what you have currently that can be developed in some way to support your strategy and, finally, determine what you have that you do not need.

If there are gaps in the resources you believe that you need to succeed, whether they be internal, external, full-time, part-time or ad hoc sponsorship commitments, be prepared to say “no” and use your powers of persuasion to either secure the necessary resources or reduce your internal stakeholder expectations.

Make sure that your management of your CW program has the optimum opportunity, not only to succeed, but to mature and deliver ever-increasing value to the business maximize its market competitiveness.