Amanda Slevar is a Manager of Presales for SAP Fieldglass. She brings over 15 years of contingent labor management and services procurement expertise to prospective customers to designs solutions to fit their current needs, and build toward an innovative future program. Amanda is a featured presenter at SIG’s Global Executive Summit which takes place this month. The Global Executive Summit is free to all qualified buy-side practitioners and sell-side members.
What does it mean to “future proof” your external workforce management?
To me, this comes down to three core areas: People, Process, and Platform and they are all incredibly dependent on each other for success. Starting with people, if organizations are really serious about strategically managing their external workforce, they understand that people are core to making sure the experience and adoption of the program is successful. Whether that is through an internal center of excellence or via a 3rd party MSP to manage, having the eyes, ears, and hands, to be able to react to changes and growth opportunities that are going to arise with any program from the most newly deployed to a fully mature global installation.
Secondly, having a clear and simple process for procuring external talent is key to adoption, which fuels growth organically. I have had the benefit of seeing many programs start out small in scope, and through the simplicity and ease of a process that was executed begin to expand and grow just because they delivered a delightful experience, and other parts of the business want it too! No forceful, mandated rollout, just a great solution that delivers value to its end users.
Lastly, platform and technology. It cannot be overstated that without the right technology platform to power your program, your people and your processes will suffer. As a technology provider, we meet people where they’re at on the program journey.
If it’s a scope that’s regional or focused on a particular engagement pattern or business unit, the technology selected must solve the task at hand, for today’s challenges. The biggest area of future proofing your external workforce is understanding that the platform you choose to manage it, has to meet you at the roads of change and growth as its inevitable. A program that starts out managing traditional contingent workers, is inevitably going to say, “ok, what’s next?”, and look for a solution to manage services procurement for all categories of indirect spend.
Having a solid solution in place as you begin that next phase of growth, saves time, effort, and yields economies of scale. Future proofing is meeting customers where they are in their journey today, and helping to guide them to their next destination.
What are the top challenges that procurement is facing when it comes to managing their external workforces?
For the most part, at least in North America and Western Europe, we see the traditional external “contingent” workforce is close to being fully managed. It’s rare that we’re seeing a true generation 1 program that has a massive number of contingent workers that have no program oversight or platform to manage it. The recession and economic crisis of 2008 really expedited procurement’s recognition that this is a category that needs attention and is critical and strategic to business operations.
So, on one hand we’ve got really mature contingent labor programs in parts of the world, but often procurement does not have a complete global picture as well as it may not include any external workers on a services or SOW type of engagement, across multiple categories. We recently met with an organization who in light of Covid-19 was looking to restructure their entire external workforce. They had a mature contingent program but had postponed their services deployment. They were able to quickly identify and realign that contingent workforce in a matter of hours.
It took weeks to even identify who was on alternative engagement patterns, spending time and money trying to figure out how to manage that workforce. Services deployment just made their number one priority for 2021 to avoid this problem in the future. While having a program and platform for your contingent workers is great, it is only a part of the total external workforce story.
Additionally, with today’s economic uncertainty we’re expecting to see a greater emphasis on the use of an external workforce and the value it can provide an organization. Ensuring supply chains for labor are strong as well as competitively priced is going to be a challenge we see in the near to long term. Again, having the people, process, and platform ready to handle this is what organizations can do to ensure they’re ready to meet the demands of the business.
How do best-in-class procurement teams manage their external workforces and what lessons can be learned from their experiences?
The theme that comes to mind, immediately is “wholistic approach”. Now, that can mean a few things depending on your individual organization but fundamentally, it is designing a simple, easy to adopt process that cares for all external workforce engagement types, not just one way of getting work done. Organizations are looking for flexibility whether it’s a gig worker, freelancer, service provider, or a traditional contingent request filled by a staffing supplier.
Having all these potential outcomes available to end users within one mode of acquisition is what drives adoption, it drives visibility, and it drives savings measures through the promotion of buying channels. Best in class procurement programs do not force one way of getting work done for a financial goal. They enable and empower their end users to make the best decision for their needs, while leveraging the work procurement has done to ensure multiple buying channels are available to them.
What role does automation play in contingent workforce management?
It cannot be understated, automation either via integrated workflows and/or next generation technologies like RPA and AI, are reshaping how the external workforce is acquired, managed, and consumed. We often hear stories of savings, and revenue impacts, and those things will always continue to be important for the procurement organization, but there is this shift (again with 2020) that, time is now becoming the most valuable resource.
You cannot get your time back, and you can’t create more hours in the day. But, if you can partner with a technology provider who understands the intrinsic value of time, in addition to your savings and adoption goals, you’re on the way to scale a program, and automate the repetitive tasks that are a time drain on your human capital.
Time is the only resource you cannot generate more of, and its our mission to help procurement organizations give time back to their employees to carry on the mission and vision of their goals.
Don’t miss Amanda’s session “Breakout 13: How Fidelity’s IT, Business and Procurement Teams Partner to Drive External Workforce Management Excellence” featuring an all-female panel of procurement practitioners from Fidelity, set to take place October 14 at 12:30 pm.
Amanda Slevar is a Manager of Presales for SAP Fieldglass. She brings over 15 years of contingent labor management and services procurement expertise to prospective customers to designs solutions to fit their current needs, and build toward an innovative future program. She also has experience in management consultation, team building, professional development, strategic implementation, and company collaboration. Amanda holds an MBA from Canisius College, and spends her free time chasing her three year old son!