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The importance of... control - Part 1

Posted on 09/05/2017 by Jon Milton in Category Managed Services

In the third of our series looking at contingent resourcing in 2017, we look at the changing role of technology and the way that it can put the customer in control, not only at a centralised level, but also for the line manager. Given the current shortage of skills across many job categories, the latter is becoming increasingly important in supporting the successful delivery of organisational requirements.

The use of technology to manage contingent labour usage is now well established, either through managed service models who have their own vendor management systems (VMS), or the use of a standalone VMS, usually facilitated by an internal contract management function.

The value that technology is able to create for contingent workforce management cannot be disputed; all stakeholders are connected through a single point of contact online, centralising previously fragmented buying activity; organisational structures and rules can be embedded into system workflows to control compliance; agency rates and worker pay can be effectively controlled; detailed management information can be provided, and so on. Where technology can cause issues however is for line managers, who are forced to follow a process and may feel as though the imposition of technology hampers their ability to do their job.

The problem with control resting solely in the centre

The traditional requisition to pay approach for many systems (not just staffing VMS) relies on a requisition or order being placed on-line, sent for approval (if approvals are required), distributed to suppliers, and for suppliers to then send through their proposals or candidates in this instance to be reviewed by the line manager.

From here the line manager interviews, makes a decision on who they want to appoint (which then creates a record of purchase or a booking in the system) and subsequently approves any submitted service receipts or time-sheets, with all approved time-sheets consolidated on a weekly electronic invoice.   

Given that we’re talking systems, most of the transaction processes are done on line, with little or no direct dialogue with suppliers taking place. Whilst a lot of staffing companies operating managed services will encourage their customers to place orders by telephone with them directly, managing the system processes on behalf of line managers; this approach is largely designed to maximise the master vendors’ revenue through channelling opportunity to its brands, and prohibits direct dialogue with other agencies. Either way the line manager is not really in control of the process, which can create resentment and a range of operational issues. 

Across many specialist job categories there are currently significant shortages of skilled individuals. If you need to recruit a contingent worker, for a project say or to cover for maternity leave, to a large degree you it’s likely you will need to speak to recruitment agencies to understand what type of worker will be available to you.  You may have an ideal candidate in mind, but that person may not actually be out there; talking with a specialist will therefore help to manage your expectations and understand whether you as an employer are attractive enough to recruit at the rates you want to pay and for the work that you are offering. Relying solely on systems based processes to manage this process can therefore quite quickly lead to disappointment and the chance of not filling your role.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog where I will be touching on how important it is for hiring managers to have local choice and why technology needs to be adaptive to the user’s needs.