August 13, 2021

The Four Most Common Barriers to Building (and Maintaining) a Successful Extended Workforce Program

Elaine Morris Roberts
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*This is the first in a series of guest blogposts by Elaine Morris Roberts. Over the next several weeks, she will be going into detail on each of the most common barriers to building and maintaining a successful extended workforce program.

When we talk with companies about their extended workforces, we regularly hear about how much they’re spending and how little understanding they have about the entirety of that spend.  They also have little insight into the risks they might be facing.  And those are the easier problems to identify.

As the extended workforce data experts in the industry, we know that gaining control over managing their non-employee labor force can create cost savings, reduce risk, and help programs meet business goals.  So why does it seem so difficult for companies to make strides in this area?

We’ve uncovered four most common barriers to progress:

No visibility.  Companies failing to progress often lack visibility into their entire extended workforce portfolio spend and the context of that spend.  It is essential for them to understand the mix of spend (contingent, SOW, independent contractor, etc.), where the money is going, and the context of the work being done. We find this happens regardless of the use of a VMS.  

Issues arise when there are disconnected systems of record within a department or across multiple departments.  When job roles and work definitions change quickly, an inability to update and track those changes adds to the difficulties.

No Control. This can be the most complex part of a company’s extended workforce management program. If a business doesn’t know which suppliers provide which workers and what prices are being paid, it’s nearly impossible to make progress.  

The problem is exacerbated if supply chain partners have different incentives than the buyers, making it rough to secure the right work at the right price.  And with the growing availability of direct sourcing channels, workers have more easy-to-access opportunities, so companies have to know what to offer to secure the best talent.

No scale. Companies need to know where their workers come from and what rates are being paid, but tracking all of that information with hundreds or even thousands of workers and suppliers can seem impossible.  In the process of managing innumerable transactions and oftentimes too many niche suppliers, technology becomes the answer to gain control.

Companies that successfully scale their extended workforces have the information to make better decisions and investments.  It is no longer necessary to repair problematic situations at the end of a transaction.  Considering the immense pressure some businesses face around quick staffing, project acceleration, and risk management, being able to scale without out-of-control spend and meeting business goals is paramount.  

No intelligence. Without the data, analytics, and strategy to manage an extended workforce, a business is unable to optimally inform its requisitioning and decision-making processes.  So, if you don’t know how much to pay your workers in San Francisco compared to Pittsburgh, you might be investing too much.  Or, if your pay rate is too low, the quality of your talent will suffer.  

Companies find themselves in this situation when extended workforce requisitioning is distributed across a number of front-line hiring managers with highly variable levels of skill and understanding about the process.  Shifting to an integrated technology system can provide the intelligence necessary to make the best tactical and strategic hiring decisions that meet budgets and engage the best talent based on characteristics like skills sets, rates, and geography.  

How many of the four barriers to progress sound familiar for your company?  

If even one is present, you could be sacrificing revenue, quality, and output while spending too much and taking unnecessary risks.

It's our job to remove those barriers.  At Brightfield, we built the world’s first Extended Workforce Intelligence Platform that addresses all of the underlying roadblocks, helping our clients manage and optimize their extended workforces.  By using any combination of our TDX modules to manage programs, rate and risk, suppliers, and buyers, your company turn what were challenges into a competitive advantage. Contact us to learn more about how we can help.  

*Elain Morris Roberts is a seasoned freelance editor, writer, and communications expert who written extensively for Spend Matters on extended workforce topics ranging from DEI to technology best practices.  

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