Who has the best pizza in town? Does anyone know a good auto body shop? Which VMS is the best fit for my company?
These are all questions we have likely asked ourselves at one time or another. Okay, the VMS question may be a stretch but if you are reading this, you probably have some interest in this expanding space. We are all highly influenced by word-of-mouth recommendations. According to Forbes, personal recommendations “are the #1 driver of consumer purchase decisions at every stage of the purchase cycle, across multiple product categories.” B2B consumers aren’t any different. You also rely on others for advice.
If you are at the reference stage in your VMS selection lifecycle, you have already reviewed your RFP responses and met with vendors to preview their technology during the product demonstration. Once you have shortlisted providers, it’s time to reach out to references for some honest feedback. These conversations can validate our choices and gives us the opportunity to network. We want to connect with someone who is knowledgeable about the experience we are about to embark upon. Someone who has “been there, done that” becomes integral to our selection and part of our new community.
Our Essential Questions to Ask During a Reference Check whitepaper identifies key areas of interest and topics as well as specific questions that will help you get the most out of these conversations. Here are some additional steps that can help you through the reference check process:
Step One: Get to Know Them
Initially, get to know the individual, his or her role in selecting the VMS, and what drove the organization to the solution. What did the process look like before implementing a VMS? These background questions will lay the groundwork and add context to the conversation. Consider it a first date. You can’t bombard someone with a ton of questions and expect them to have all the answers. Before you connect with the reference, pick and choose what is most important and try to get a variety of answers from two to three reference contacts.
Step Two: Relationship, Relationship, Relationship
In real estate it is said that “location, location, location” are the three things that matter most. In selecting a VMS vendor, a major factor in your decision should be the cultural fit. Look for characteristics that align with your corporate vision. Your VMS provider will be a new strategic partner. You will be spending a lot of time together – gathering and reviewing data, automating processes and communicating a fair amount of change to your organization and superiors. You want someone who is in your corner.
Step Three: Walking the Walk
I am a marketer’s dream –I see an ad for an electric belt promising six pack abs and I’m sold! But products actually delivering on those promises is another story. You know where I’m going with this. Hence, the final stage of your VMS reference check: did the VMS deliver on its promises? Is the application easy to use? Does it save money? Is your company’s risk mitigated by utilizing this technology? In short, are you getting the value you expected and were sold? Does your VMS walk the walk?
At Fieldglass we pride ourselves in successfully partnering with our customers and honoring our commitments. Delivering value is part of our culture and core values. Walking the walk is in our soul. Cue the strut music (I couldn’t resist).
(Today’s guest post is by Arjun Dutt, Business Intelligence Solutions. This is the fifth post in our Measuring Up series on how to get more out of your VMS reporting.)
In the course of this series, we’ve discussed unique perspectives across three common value propositions that most organizations align themselves with: cost, quality and efficiency. The final dimension program owners think about is compliance. If there’s one thing everyone can agree on, it’s that there is no common method for measuring compliance.
Many times companies measure compliance not with metrics, but by business process definition and execution within the VMS tool. Program owners often do not put in place measurable metrics to ensure that the program is meeting internal compliance standards. Oftentimes, ensuring processes are compliant to internal business requirements will result in direct cost savings, efficiency gains and quality improvements.
Take, for example, a client who recently discovered that within a particular labor category, spend under suppliers was off balance and favored some more than others. While those same suppliers were performing well on their quarterly scorecard reviews, the trend was largely ignored until they owned the majority of spend in that category.
As bill rates and costs started to increase, the organization reviewed the suppliers and realized that more often than not, hiring managers were pre-identifying candidates from specific suppliers, even though the company mandate was to competitively bid positions. A pre-identified workforce typically has a shorter time-to-hire cycle time and higher quality measurements, but it almost always comes with higher bill rates. While hiring managers were satisfied with worker quality and quick turnaround times, the cost of these workers was not justifiable to the program.
To ensure positions were competitively bid, the client implemented the following business rules within the VMS:
- Even if a hiring manager pre-identifies a candidate, the position must also be competitively bid to identify opportunities for savings.
- When a requisition is sent to suppliers, the distribution must be vendor neutral, and the pre-defined list of participating suppliers must receive all postings equally. All suppliers must get a fair chance to respond to each position.
- The organization set a threshold for the allowed number of pre-identified candidates and required an additional approval process to surpass it.
By forcing most positions to be competitively bid, the customer ensured compliance to its vendor neutrality policy. In addition, the company was also able to maintain its time-to-hire numbers and worker quality.
With so many different compliance needs associated with a flexible workforce, this is just one example of how a VMS can help enforce them. To learn more about how your organization can make the most out of its contingent workforce, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to the weekly news roundup! Below are the top stories we’ve read or shared this week affecting our industry.
Tuesday: 72% of freelancers who also have “regular” jobs want to quit and work entirely for themselves, so says a new study. Why? Freedom to work when they choose. (SIA Daily News)
Tuesday: This article offers some tips to get you settled into a new temp position quickly and happily. Keep these in mind when you start your next assignment. (Payscale)
Wednesday: A new court case this week helped further define the differences between an employee vs. an independent contractor. Learn how to ensure you’re classified correctly with some behavioral, financial and relationship questions. (Workforce)
Wednesday: More research on how CIOs are utilizing flexible labor, and this study expects this number to keep growing. Skills in demand include enterprise architecture, business analysis and mobile solutions. (SIA Daily News)
Have a great weekend, everyone.
(Today’s guest post is by Jim Brozny, Fieldglass’ account services director.)
I recently co-presented with one of our customers, Jon Kesman of Reed Elsevier, at the ISM Conference in Dallas. This large annual event, which is geared toward supply chain management professionals, covered a myriad of topics, and our presentation was part of the Services Procurement track.
During our session, Jon shared Reed Elsevier’s contingent workforce program journey (case study available here). Jon has worked hard to establish a well-run, results-oriented program within the framework of Reed Elsevier’s corporate culture. I see Jon and his team’s willingness to engage early and often with their stakeholders as a major key to the company’s successful program. For Reed Elsevier, stakeholders included everyone from HR, finance, legal and IT to the hiring managers and the C-suite.
Engaging all these groups is the first step in a carefully thought-out program plan. Having the support of these folks to enable proper change management is step two. Kicking off your program planning and implementation in this way will always be the fastest and most effective way to achieve results, proven when Jon and his team launched the program in the US, and then again a few years later in the UK. Gareth Druce, professional services director for Reed Elsevier, shared in detail how the company was able to successfully expand the program into the UK during a webinar last month.
After go-live, stakeholder communication becomes even more important. A successful program is in a constant state of motion – changing, growing and adapting to workforce trends, the company’s needs or the program’s objectives. To get the most out of your non-employee workforce, Fieldglass offers several suggestions to “bridge the gap” between your workers, program office, suppliers and other stakeholders in our new eBook, Bridging the Gap: Building Relationships Within Your Contingent Workforce Program.
If you missed our blog series of the same name by members of our Professional Services team last month, the eBook recaps the importance of tying the program’s goals to those of the overall business, successful collaboration between the PMO and hiring managers, reducing tension between the PMO and suppliers, and how the C-suite’s support sets the tone for a program. It’s a must-read for any manager or sponsor looking to improve their program, whether you’ve been live for 10 days or 10 years.
(Today’s guest post is by Arjun Dutt, Business Intelligence Solutions. This is the fourth post in our Measuring Up series on how to get more out of your VMS reporting.)
Earlier in this series, I outlined an alternative way of looking at cost savings metrics. But another metric that can be used to identify cost savings opportunities at a more granular level is hiring patterns within the buyer population. Many organizations, especially those without an MSP present, tend to look only at the final rate of a hired worker against the targeted rate of the rate card.
During a recent business review to identify cost savings opportunities, we discovered an interesting anomaly for a specific job title at a handful of locations. The rate variances for the same job title and description were unusually large, even when accounting for location-based adjustments. Consider the following data we were able to visualize:
In response to this behavior, the client implemented Fieldglass’ active rate guidance, which gives hiring managers access to real-time rate information that can be used to select a candidate. As a result of this implementation, hiring managers:
- no longer hired the same workers with widely varying rates at the same location
- gained visibility into what their peers were paying for the same skill sets and could better collaborate on best rates for workers
- could place contractors in more cost-effective regions, after seeing lower rates at other locations
Over time, the organization saw rate compression tighten significantly and was also able to negotiate better rate terms with vendors. Hiring manager satisfaction was also markedly higher as they felt they were being given the right tools to make the best hiring decisions. Over the course of one year, the program anticipated an additional six percent in cost savings.
Do you currently face a similar problem at your company and want to know more? Reach out to us at email@example.com to continue the discussion on this topic.
Welcome to the weekly news roundup! Below are the top stories we’ve read or shared this week affecting our industry.
Tuesday: A camera crew stopped by the Fieldglass booth during the ISM Conference last week. Find out what our director of account services, Jim Brozny, had to say about Fieldglass and the show. (My Purchasing Center)
Wednesday: Looking for stability, benefits and opportunities without the typical bureaucracy, invisibility or slow-pace of large organizations? Check out the 10 best Fortune 500 companies to work for. (AOL Jobs)
Thursday: Here’s a great article on the way HP is addressing its cost-cutting objectives – and transforming its business processes at the same time. Think: best-of-breed SaaS players. (Enterprise Irregulars)
Today: A little Friday fun… how much are you planning to shell out on Mom this year for Mother’s Day? Together we’re expected to spend over $20 billion. (Forbes)
Have a great weekend, everyone. For those celebrating Mother’s Day, enjoy your special plans!
(Today’s guest post is by Arjun Dutt, Business Intelligence Solutions. This is the third post in our Measuring Up series on how to get more out of your VMS reporting.)
Worker quality is an increasingly important program goal for many Fieldglass customers. It also happens to be one of the hardest objectives to measure, especially if your program is relatively new. The most common measurement of quality is the comparison between positive attrition (e.g. conversions to FTE) to negative attrition (e.g. workers terminating prematurely). This measurement is challenging because it’s a reflection of how the program has performed historically. More importantly, measuring worker quality only by temp-to-hire conversion doesn’t allow a company to proactively address worker quality while they are still, well, workers.
A customer recently contacted us after discovering that negative attrition percentages for her program were increasing by three percent to four percent every month. Concerned the trend was indicative of low quality workers from her supplier base, she wanted our help to determine if she should penalize her suppliers and possibly bring new ones into the mix.
In looking at the data however, we discovered that the problem laid in the customer’s rate cards; suppliers were not able to effectively find the right candidates because of restrictive pricing. As a result, Fieldglass helped the customer implement a series of checkpoints throughout the process to monitor and improve candidate and worker quality, including these three major process changes:
- Rather than provide a uniform increase across the board, the customer decided to increase rate card flexibility, allowing suppliers to submit the best candidates for the position without being hampered by the rate. Suppliers would be measured by how often their candidates were above the target rate versus how often those same candidates were selected for interviews and/or hire. This process also enabled the customer to gather better data on how competitive her rate cards were with what was available on the market.
- Implementing detailed qualifications on the job requisition gave the customer better visibility into how well each candidate was meeting the hiring manager’s needs. As suppliers answered each skill requirement individually with more detail, the program office was able to shortlist candidates that better met the requirements. Hiring managers were also able to rank candidates and provide better feedback to the suppliers for future improvement.
- To better measure quality throughout a worker’s lifecycle, hiring managers were asked to complete a worker evaluation 30 days into his/her assignment and at three-month intervals thereafter. This allowed the program office to proactively identify quality issues during the worker’s assignment, rather than at the end.
The customer found that these three process changes led to higher percentages of on-time assignment completions and more temp-to-hire conversions. The company was also able to successfully improve positive attrition month over month while minimizing costs to the program.
How does your program measure quality? Do you struggle with this metric? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the discussion on this topic.
Welcome to the weekly news roundup! Below are the top stories we’ve read or shared this week affecting our industry.
Monday: A whooping 60 MILLION people will be freelancers, contractors or temps. Are you an employer without a strategy to take advantage of this growing workforce? Check out these tips. (Recruiter)
Monday: A rise in temps isn’t news, but it may be surprising to you how many retirees are among the contingent population. Temp work can be particularly attractive to older workers, since they often have access to Medicare and a lack of benefits isn’t a deal breaker. (MarketWatch)
Monday: Not all freelancers work from the neighborhood coffee shop. Find out about some of the common places contractors go to get the job done. (CBS News)
Wednesday: Thinking of taking your program global but not sure where to start? Staffing Industry Analysts’ Advisory Group has compiled a list of questions you should ask, based on feedback from some of the top global contingent workforce experts. (CWS 3.0)
Wednesday: If you think that the workforce is shaped by each different generation of workers, this article may make you think again. (Workforce)
Have a great weekend, everyone!
(Today’s guest post is by Arjun Dutt, Business Intelligence Solutions. This is the second post in a new series called Measuring Up on how to get more out of your VMS reporting.)
Creating program efficiency is a top 3 goal for nearly every Fieldglass customer. One of the most common questions we get asked is how to effectively reduce cycle times. There’s no doubt that hiring workers quickly is good for business – it increases overall productivity and improves hiring manager satisfaction. However, there exists an age-old struggle to balance speedy hiring with quality workers while still completing compliance-related tasks such as approvals and onboarding.
Many organizations automatically place the onus of reducing cycle times on the Program Management Office (PMO) or, and is more often the case, onto the suppliers’ shoulders. These organizations often fail to investigate how they themselves are contributing to high processing times. Below I’ll share how one customer was able to drastically cut cycle times by looking in the mirror.
To set the stage, a large majority of programs are set up as “serial processors.” In other words, steps in the process occur one after the other, with each step dependent on the previous one. A typical hiring process looks something like this:
One customer recently examined how long it took for requisitions to be approved as well as for suppliers to submit the ultimately-hired candidate. They discovered that while every requisition went through a financial approval, on average less than 0.2 percent were rejected annually.
To reduce its cycle times without risking losing quality candidates by rushing suppliers, the customer instead implemented a parallel distribution workflow. Now suppliers can start sourcing candidates against a requisition while financial approvals are still in process. Hiring managers can review the candidate pool and make a selection, and by this time, the approval cycle is complete. The new workflow was implemented quickly and about a year later, the customer reduced cycle times by three days. Multiplied across 1,000 hires that year, the productivity savings were tremendous.
This is a good example of how alternative ways of looking at how your program can better serve your business. How can you make an impact without drastically changing your business processes? The Business Intelligence team at Fieldglass can help you review your program’s processes and look for these alternative sources of improvements.
(For the introductory post to this new blog series, see Measuring Up: How to Get More Out of Your VMS Program.)
Many US organizations have a common misconception about global growth: international markets are less mature. It’s not uncommon to hear that EMEA is five to six years behind the US in how contingent workforces are managed. However that’s certainly not the case, as Bryan Pena of Staffing Industry Analysts, Liz Harper of Brightfield Strategies and I discussed last week during our Making It Work: Best Practices for Expanding your Contingent Workforce Program Internationally webinar. These markets are not less mature than those in North America — they’re just different. During the webinar, we talked about how organizations can better prepare for global expansion by educating themselves and planning for these cultural nuances before deploying their contingent workforce programs overseas.
Harper provided some background on EMEA-specific legislation influencing the way contingent programs operate. The Data Protection Directive, Health and Safety Directive, Temporary & Agency Workers Directive (AWD) and the Fixed Term Worker Directive all significantly affect how organizations are able to expand their programs globally, and prudent organizations must take these laws into account.
But outside of any legal considerations, there are cultural nuances to change management to consider before deployment as well. Harper noted a few examples of how the national culture impacts the corporate culture:
- Power-Oriented Culture: Countries like Japan and India fit into this quadrant and value the dialogue between stakeholders rather than what’s being discussed. In other words, these countries want to know who’s attending a meeting rather than what will be discussed.
- Role-Oriented Culture: Germany is one country that fits into this “obey the boss” mentality. Change in these types of cultures is challenging because of the “top-down” approach and therefore can take a long time to initiate.
- Project-Oriented Culture: Change in these countries comes more quickly because the focus is practical rather than theoretical. The US, UK and Canada fall into this category, which is the antithesis of the power-oriented culture because it’s problem-centered rather than discipline-centered.
- Fulfillment-Oriented Culture: Harper likened this culture to a “jazz band” because change occurs when a self-elected leader takes charge and people follow based on whether or not they like the change. Sweden fits into this category.
Although Harper noted that these ideas are high-level, they can be followed up with some practical tips for assessing your current program before taking the next steps. She recommends ranking a variety of factors: the scope of change; the impact of change; the degree of change; and the training required for change.
I also offered my perspective on a common theme I’ve seen in helping many Fieldglass customers expanding globally: no two deployments are alike. Company A’s deployment in Germany might be significantly different than Company B’s deployment in the same region. Resources, taxes and invoices differ from one region to another – sometimes even within the same country – and that’s where Fieldglass enters the picture. Our VMS is flexible enough to allow for different requirements in each place.
Because issues such as taxes/payment and HR/compliance are so consistently complicated, customers should focus on them primarily. On the other hand, we know some tasks to be relatively easy in global deployment. Process changes including job titles and approvals and structural changes such as business units and costs centers are “low hanging fruit” that require less bandwidth.
Finally, it’s important to realize when a country or region is too small to invest resources, money and personnel. There’s no “magic spend number” but consider this: A country with $20 million in spend but representing only one percent of the overall program is less likely to return the investment more quickly than a country with $10 million, but representing 20 percent of global spend. It’s always better to focus on countries or regions where you will get the most “bang for your buck” and let the lessons learned from that implementation flow down to the smaller deployments.
As you look into what factors are important for your global deployment, reach out to us at email@example.com to get some additional information.
Tuesday: As an Illinois Technology Association member, we appreciate all the work the ITA does to help promote and grow the Chicago tech community. Read here about their new focus on larger firms. (Crain’s Chicago Business)
Wednesday: By 2016, almost 80% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials. This study explains their work habits and needs, but points out one consistency between this group and non-millennials alike – everyone wants more flexible work hours and the ability to work remotely. (Talent Management)
Wednesday: Just another example of how fine the line is between the various worker types. Learn what to do when your consultants don’t quality as independent contractors but still insist on being treated as such. (Collabrus)
Wednesday: Today’s modern job seekers don’t respond to outdated recruiter tactics. Take a peek inside how it all works and learn how to recruit the best workers. (CWS 3.0)
Thursday: Just for fun… we all know what it’s like to be tied to technology. This article outlines 21 bad habits – and why we should break them. (CIO)
Have a great weekend, everyone!
(Today’s guest post is by Sara Sullivan, Fieldglass’ director of sales engineers.)
Although organizations have built a successful business case for a VMS and understand basic functionalities, they struggle to understand the differentiators that separate one provider from another. Any VMS worth its salt is capable of handling job requisition creation, the timesheet approval process and basic reporting functionality, among other things. But how do organizations uncover the unique features and functionality that truly set one provider apart from the rest?
The product demonstration is the opportunity for VMS providers to showcase the user interface and walk through functionality that will help lower costs, improve efficiency, increase quality and ensure compliance. Our new whitepaper, Essential Questions to Ask During a Product Demonstration for a VMS, can help you hone in on the topics you should cover and the specific questions you should ask. We also provide a scorecard template to help you prioritize the functionality most important to your organization.
Here are some additional tips for getting the most out of your product demonstration with a VMS provider:
- Know what to expect: Whether you’ve gone through the RFP process or not, the product demonstration is the first opportunity to see the interface and walk through job requisition creation, candidate vetting, work orders, timesheet approvals, reporting, social capabilities, administration and global expertise. Map out what you’d like to see beforehand and whenever possible, provide that roadmap to the VMS provider.
- Understand how a VMS fits within existing systems: Start thinking about how the potential VMS could interact with existing software systems. For example, will the VMS need to feed invoice data to your accounts payable (A/P) system? Or will the VMS need to interact with systems that store master data such as users, organizational hierarchy and cost? If you can supply this information to the VMS provider beforehand, the demonstration will be much richer.
- Have a scorecard: Quantifying VMS performance during a demonstration can help measure providers against one another. When creating a scorecard, keep in mind the specific pain points identified by your internal stakeholders and weigh those areas more heavily. If the VMS is particularly adept or inept at addressing these pain points, it will be quantified in the scorecard and make the final assessment more clear.
- Don’t be afraid to throw a curveball: Sticking to the script isn’t necessary. If you see something you don’t understand or are presented with a feature you don’t recognize, ask the VMS provider to explain. The ability to adapt the demonstration “on the fly” can be a good indicator of how your relationship with the provider might work. A VMS that can adjust as your needs change – whether in the long term or short term – is a very good thing.
These tips and our new whitepaper can guide you through the product demonstration and help separate VMS providers from one another. Together, these tools help you differentiate the VMS providers and get the most out of the meeting.
(Today’s guest post is by Arjun Dutt, Business Intelligence Solutions. This is the first post in a new weekly series, called Measuring Up.)
It’s the start of a new quarter and for many companies, that means it’s time to gear up for quarterly business reviews. As is common in these reviews, there is a large emphasis on metrics – be it measuring efficiency, supplier performance or cost savings – that are often defined with VMS and MSP providers as Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Each quarter, your partners report back to you, highlighting how those SLAs have been reached.
A large majority of VMS and MSP buyers have come to the realization that metrics around SLAs only serve as indicators of basic program health; they fall short on offering any value outside of designating a pass/fail grade. After these reviews, program sponsors are still left to wonder: how do we leverage our data to improve programs?
Regardless of a program’s size or maturity, companies overlook a few important data points that could lead to program improvement. These three examples include such metrics and how customers benefited from taking a closer look.
- Hiring manager decision-making. The most common measure of efficiency is “time-to-fill”, or cycle time – but companies don’t often look beyond the overall number. One customer recently indicated that hiring managers were unhappy with the high cycle time and wanted suppliers to submit candidates faster. After a review of their data over the past six months, we determined that the supplier response time only accounted for 8-10 percent of the total cycle time, leaving 85 percent of the entire process in the hands of the hiring managers to review candidates, conduct interviews and make decisions. As a result, the customer worked with us to make the review and hiring process easier and more efficient. This led directly to an improvement in another program metric – hiring manager satisfaction.
- Cost savings measurements. Most discussions around cost are in the context of bill rates and their relationship to rate cards and/or market rates, but there are other valuable metrics. In analyzing its invoicing process, one customer found that almost 8 percent of weekly invoices failed during processing for a variety of reasons – ranging from incorrect overtime hours submitted by workers to invalid cost allocations in external AP systems. As a result the customer implemented a series of invoicing rules to catch and correct errors prior to being submitted to the AP processing systems – reducing weekly invoicing errors to less than 2 percent. Translated to the number of invoice corrections that were reduced annually, this measurement added up to a large cost savings opportunity for the customer.
- Supplier performance and quality. Companies often measure “time-to-respond” as part of the supplier scorecarding process, and reward those who respond quickly to requisitions. However one client recently questioned if a quicker response necessarily translated to better quality candidates and a quicker hiring decision. To investigate, we looked at two simple metrics: the candidate rejection ratio for the entire supply base, and the response time for the hired candidate. We discovered that more often than not, the first candidate submitted, on average, in 0.7 days, was more likely to be rejected by the PMO or hiring managers than the third candidate, submitted on average, in 2.5 days. (Each supplier is only allowed to submit three candidates). In short, suppliers were submitting under-qualified candidates quickly to meet the SLA, but then taking their time to find the right fit candidate and submitting him/her later. As a result, the customer implemented a 48-hour “no-review” window where suppliers were given two days to submit the best available candidates before the PMO would review and make a decision. Over time, the customer hopes candidate quality improves and the supplier is encouraged to be a better partner.
These are just a few examples of how customers can focus on data that can improve their programs, instead of measuring SLAs that only indicate past performance.
Over the next four weeks, Fieldglass’ Business Intelligence team will share more examples of how customers have been able to find new ways to achieve better program efficiencies, source higher quality workers, mitigate compliance risks and create new cost saving initiatives.
(This post first appeared last week on The Staffing Stream.)
Monday: Are you looking for temporary work in or around Raleigh, NC? You’re in luck! The area has the highest expected temp job growth through 2014. Check out the other 19 on the list. (The Hiring Site)
Tuesday: Allegis Group Services and HCI Research recently joined forces on a new study. First, check out AGS’ take on the changing workforce today in this new blog post (study available at the end). (Allegis Group Services)
Wednesday: In this press release, one staffing firm discusses how the state of the economy has caused more and more older workers to take on temporary positions. (Digital Journal)
Wednesday: Talk about analytics. Google uses independent hiring committees and 40-50 pages of information for every candidate to make their hiring decisions. Learn how this affects the hiring manager process. (CWS 3.0)
Wednesday: Analyst Chris Dwyer presents his second post in a series on best practices for managing the contingent workforce. In this post he focuses on strategies to leverage program data. (CPO Rising)
Have a great weekend, everyone!
A few weeks ago, we talked about how hiring managers adopt programs more easily when they have a technology to guide them through processes. Because they have a multitude of other projects and responsibilities on their plates, they don’t want to be burdened with a VMS that doesn’t guide them through tasks such as creating job requisitions and approving timesheets. So once the application is implemented, it’s important to get feedback about the program consistently – whether it’s good or bad – to ensure you’re not missing the opportunity to make improvements to your program or provide additional training.
One easy way to solicit feedback is through a survey. The survey can include questions about users’ familiarity with particular features and functionality in the application as well as questions about their satisfaction with program support. After a few months of use, hiring managers will undoubtedly have their fair share of opinions. Providing a survey proactively proves you are invested in improving the program and that user input drives program success and enhancements.
Surveys can help you discover pain points, challenges and (hopefully) successes achieved by the VMS and the program thus far. It’s not unusual to conduct these sorts of surveys annually, but conducting them on a quarterly basis would be ideal in terms of keeping the “feedback loop” open with hiring managers. These surveys can serve as progress reports that can help re-shape a failing program or bolster a successful one.
We’ve included some tips for creating a survey that can help improve hiring manager satisfaction and maximize results:
- Know the Scope: To evaluate survey responses, you’ll want an understanding of the type of user in the program. Ask hiring managers to provide the number of contingent workers currently on assignment under their management and where they’re located. You’ll also want to know how long the hiring manager has been with the company– a user who has only used the application once will have much different answers than one who has used it for years.
- Give Users a Scale: Create a scale that allows users to rate VMS features to separate enthusiastic fans from unsatisfied detractors. A numerical scale (from 1-5) can help you to gauge the perceived ease of the approval process, quality of the candidate pool and reporting functionality provided by the VMS. The scale creates a more comprehensive view of the program and which specific areas need revamping.
- Keep Some Questions Open-Ended: Although they are valuable, “yes” or “no” questions limit responses and don’t allow respondents to elaborate on answers and provide suggestions that could shape the program’s future. Ask questions such as, “In what areas would you like further training?” or “Which features do you consider the most helpful and which are the least beneficial?” From there, you can tweak program training and adjust VMS administration if necessary.
- Keep it Short: No one wants to spend their time filling out a 10-page survey. Keep it brief.
If you’d like more information about ensuring hiring managers get the most out of your program, download our latest eBook, Improving the Hiring Manager Experience. It’s an important step in making hiring managers feel comfortable using a VMS, adopting a program and ultimately, participating in the feedback loop.
Over the past few weeks, Matt Kreh, Andrew Thiermann and Greg Fenton of the Fieldglass Professional Services team co-authored a series on From the Field called “Bridging the Gap” focusing the relationships between different stakeholders within a contingent program. The four-part series appeared every Wednesday over the past month, but in case you missed any of the posts, here’s a recap of what each of our bloggers discussed:
- Matt’s first post, How Collaboration Between the Program Office and Hiring Managers Breeds Success, discussed three key contributors to a successful program: continued teamwork between the hiring manager and the program office; simplifying program objectives; and creating a feedback loop. Regardless of the program structure, keeping these three ideas at the forefront can ensure a program has continued success.
- In the second post in the series, How C-Suite Leadership Sets the Tone for VMS Deployments, Andrew discussed the importance of designing a deployment strategy for a contingent workforce program that is tightly aligned with corporate goals. Program managers should create objectives based on the overarching company goals to secure C-suite support. He then provided a few customer examples of how different strategic approaches affect how a contingent workforce program is rolled out.
- Greg’s post, the third in the series, discussed How to Turn Planning into Action in Your Contingent Workforce Program. He talked about how each Fieldglass customer approaches VMS deployment in a different way, but regardless of the business or its specific goals, every customer is driven by the same value propositions: cost, quality, efficiency and compliance. Customers regularly examine the goals, objectives and performance of each key area of their programs including VMS, MSP (if one is in place), the internal program office and even suppliers. Greg then provided examples of how customers were able to achieve their value props by examining and optimizing their VMS use.
- Cutting Down Tension Between the Supplier and the PMO was the topic of Matt’s second blog post in the series. The relationship between suppliers and the PMO can usually be bucketed into one of four categories: under the radar, supplier submissive, strategic or supplier dependent. The “feedback loop” Matt discussed in his earlier post is also an essential part of successful collaboration between the PMO and suppliers.
A common theme among all four posts in the series was the importance of communication between the key stakeholders in a contingent workforce program. Hiring managers, C-suite executives, suppliers and the program office each play different roles in a contingent workforce program but consistent communication is truly key in “bridging the gap” between them.
Last week, Fieldglass co-hosted a webinar titled, “Contingent Workforce Programme Evolution: Growing Your Programme for Future Success,” with our very own Mikael Lindmark, vice president of EMEA, Lutz Peichert, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research and Gareth Druce, professional services director for Reed Elsevier. In case you missed it, you can download the webinar here but here are some of the key takeaways from last week’s session.
The webinar was an opportunity for Peichert to share some Forrester insights into the European services procurement market, the challenges currently facing customers and the benefits of VMS use. With this in mind, Druce then offered Reed Elsevier’s perspective on these insights and shared his company’s experience in expanding a contingent workforce program globally. Some common themes emerged between Forrester’s analysis and Reed Elsevier’s experience:
- The Market Maturity Barrier: Expanding a US-based program globally requires a significant shift in change management that can be tough to initiate. While VMS and MSP usage might be common in the US, that’s not yet the case in EMEA. For example, Druce noted that in Reed Elsevier’s case, the UK market in particular required more multi-faceted communications than the email communications US programs might favor. Accordingly, Reed Elsevier’s UK-based program encompasses more face-to-face training, drop-in sessions and corporate social networking in addition to email communications. It’s not necessarily a matter of getting European programs “up to speed” with US-based ones; rather it’s about making sure the program matches the tempo already established there.
- The Local Support Requirement: Lindmark, Peichert and Druce stressed the importance of a local support network to ensure adoption for a European program. According to Lindmark, it’s critical to ensure local stakeholders are present to actively participate in and influence the program. For Reed Elsevier, this need translated into a local program office so users could access help at any time. Expansion into the Dutch market is part of Reed Elsevier’s future so as the program grows, so does the network of local program offices to support it.
- The Appeal of Compliance: One of the biggest draws for European buyers is the benefit of greater visibility into their program and therefore, improved compliance. Specifically Agency Workers Regulations (AWR), which mandates that temporary workers be treated and paid equally to their full-time counterparts, can be reflected and enforced within the Fieldglass VMS. Druce mentioned that in the past, Reed Elsevier’s contingent workforce wasn’t centrally managed so once Fieldglass was implemented, candidate quality improved and costs were driven down. Lindmark remarked that Reed Elsevier is not alone. Although each country’s approach to abiding by AWR might be different, each interpretation is being supported within the Fieldglass application.
Buyers in countries across Europe are expanding their programs and learning what works best for them. Whether you’re already global or on your way there, keep these ideas in mind.
Fieldglass has been selected as a finalist in two categories for the 2013 Illinois Technology Association (ITA) CityLIGHTS Awards. Fieldglass has been named a finalist for the Lighthouse Award while Jai Shekhawat is a finalist for the CEO of the Year award for the second consecutive year. We’re proud to be finalists again in these categories but now we need your help to bring home the awards on May 9.
You can vote on the ITA voting page here using a valid corporate email address. Winners are chosen based on a composite score – 50 percent judges’ votes and 50 percent community voting – so you have a good chance of giving Fieldglass and Jai the win.
If Fieldglass wins the Lighthouse Award, we’ll be in good company. Previous winners include Chicago technology staples Groupon, GrubHub.com and Redbox. According to the ITA, the Lighthouse award is “presented to the growth-stage company, which through innovation in products, services or business approach, has grown to become a serious competitor in the marketplace.” Fieldglass joins fellow finalists Centro, Corptax, kCura and Silkroad.
Along with Jai, Hank Adams of Sportvision, Jeff Hyman of Retrofit, Michael Small of Gogo and Douglass Waggoner of Echo Global Logistics have been nominated in the CEO of the Year category. Each year the award is “presented to the company CEO who has led successful company growth through leadership, ability to attract and retain talented resources, financial accomplishments and strategy for continued company growth.”
We’re excited to be finalists for these awards but even more excited that your vote is so important in the final tally. Voting is now open and ends on April 22 at 5 pm. You can only vote once but we encourage you to share this news and ITA’s voting site with fellow Fieldglass fans.
Tuesday: Robert Half International and BMO Capital Markets comment on the current demand for temporary workers. (Investor’s Business Daily)
Wednesday: Are you really getting enough out of your quarterly business reviews? Learn about some components of strategic QBRs. (CWS 3.0)
Thursday: Are you a new freelancer and unsure of how much your going rate should be? Check out this complete guide for establishing and negotiating your client rates. (Lifehacker)
Today: Several Silicon Valley technology companies are pushing to make the immigration process easier in order to access talented foreign workers. (The Globe and Mail)
Have a great weekend, everyone!
(Today’s guest post is by Matt Kreh, Fieldglass Professional Services. Matt is a blogger in a new series called “Bridging the Gap” where we’ll explore the various relationships within a contingent workforce program.)
In my earlier blog post, I talked about collaboration between the hiring manager and the PMO and stressed the importance of creating a “feedback loop” so users have a way to share their experiences with the program on a consistent basis. In the same way it’s imperative to a program’s success for everyday users to communicate with the PMO, it’s equally imperative to have the same sort of open dialogue with suppliers.
As the PMO, take a step back and evaluate the relationship between you and the suppliers, who are usually bucketed into one of four groups:
- Under the Radar – This category can actually be one of two scenarios: either there is very little communication between the PMO and the supplier, or there is not a lot of activity coming from the supplier at all. In other words, the supplier doesn’t submit many candidates or makes up a small portion of overall program spend.
- Supplier Submissive – The program’s business is critical to the supplier and they’re very dependent on the relationship. In this scenario, the program holds a lot of the control and the supplier tends adhere to anything the program implements.
- Strategic Relationship –It’s a two-way street. Both sides rely on each other to keep their respective businesses moving forward. From the PMO’s perspective, suppliers keep the program’s business going by filling positions and in turn, the placements (also known as “fills”) aid the supplier’s bottom line.
- Supplier Dependent – If the supplier wasn’t available or quickly disengaged from the program, the PMO would be in trouble or in urgent need to find a new one. This type of relationship usually occurs when a supplier services very niche positions, such as graphic designers. In this case, the supplier is in the driver’s seat and could, in some cases, dictate pricing.
Once you’ve established the type of relationship you currently have with your supplier community, you can start thinking about how to establish the regular “feedback loop” discussed above. Ask the following questions of your program: How often are you meeting with suppliers? Do you have a quarterly review or scorecard to rate them? Are you willing to pay more for candidates from a particular supplier when the candidates consistently perform superbly?
As one of our customers once jokingly said, “Sometimes we need to take a supplier down to the principal’s office.” Every now and then, it’s necessary to reevaluate the relationship with the supplier if things aren’t working out. In some cases, the PMO might need to remove a supplier from a distribution list for a period of time or move them down to “second tier” status.
On the other hand, if a supplier is performing above par and deserves some recognition, there should be acknowledgement and action from the PMO. For example, if suppliers are providing high quality candidates and cutting down hiring cycle times, they can be rewarded by being moved to “first tier” status or given full exclusivity to certain labor categories or sites.
Before coming down too hard on suppliers and taking them to task, make sure your own program is in order first. If hiring managers complain about long hiring cycle times causing delays; take a look internally before coming down too hard on the supplier base.
Much like a successful relationship between the hiring manager the PMO is dependent on open lines of communication, a successful relationship with suppliers depends on the same thing. The more you strive toward building relationships with constituents from all aspects of the program – program managers, suppliers, etc. — the more likely it is the program will flourish.