For nearly the past seven months, the sports world (Publisher’s note: Chris means the US’ sports world) has been without perhaps its most popular pastime. Now that the NFL season is about to kick off (go Patriots!), it would be interesting (and not to mention, fun!) to think about contingent workforce management (“CWM”) in terms of a fantasy football draft, which allows players to simulate being an NFL owner or head coach and drafting and managing a team of players. Who would be the no-brainer, first round pick? Who plays the role of the stalwart, “bell cow” running back? What about defense? Who is the star (or sleeper) wide receiver that will be your game-changer?

Last year, CPO Rising celebrated the opening of the NFL season by imagining what a CWM program would look like if it was a football team. Today, we ask: if contingent workforce management programs were NFL teams, how should they approach a fantasy football draft?

  • Round One. Owners of fantasy football teams typically use their first selection on the most important position on the field: the quarterback. Quarterbacks are game managers, leaders, and, most importantly, game changers. At this spot, holistic and seamless management of the contingent workforce “game” is key, which is why we are picking Vendor Management System (“VMS”) technology with our round one selection. VMS platforms have evolved just as much as the non-employee industry has over the past decade, helping to propel CWM into new strategic territory. Deep analytics, holistic management of day-to-day CWM operations, automated SOW management, and links to the ecosystem of contingent workforce technology are just some of the great attributes of our “quarterback.”
  • Round Two. The NFL has become a passing league; that is, teams are often lighting up the scoreboard on the arms of their QBs rather than with a grounded rushing attack. And, the quarterback position is only one half of this equation: teams require a talented wide receiver to pull in big passes and score touchdowns. For our wide receiver spot, we are picking a defined, next-generation talent engagement strategy. It has become a near requirement in today’s “gig economy” that businesses do whatever they can to reel in on-demand, real-time talent that can help shape projects, spark growth, and spur development. For this to happen (effectively), businesses must build a next-gen talent engagement strategy that blends both legacy and fresh options for identifying and sourcing talent.
  • Round Three. There’s the thought that “defense wins championships.” Legendary teams, like the Pittsburgh Steelers of the ’70s and Chicago Bears of the ’80s, won Super Bowls with stifling defenses. Even more recent teams (like the “dynasty-era” New England Patriots and, more recently, the Seattle Seahawks) have placed a heavy emphasis on the many facets of a solid defense: aggressive defense line (to pressure the opposing team’s QB), stout linebackers, and a deep secondary that could challenge the passing game. In the non-employee workforce management industry, defense equals compliance. In an era when talent is sourced via new and exciting means, more and more line-of-business managers and other stakeholders are engaging talent outside of traditional means … which, of course, leaves the greater organization open to a variety of risks, including federal audits, reclassification, and co-employment. Defense is what we are selecting in round three, because as the “gig economy” continues to push independent talent into the corporate culture, enterprises will require a robust compliance and risk mitigation strategy that also leveraged outsourced compliance management experts and solutions.
  • Round Four. It is about time to address the rushing attack. Although the NFL has become a passing league, the grind-it-out nature of some teams requires a tough running back that can break through opposing defenses and create opportunities for big gains. Pros like Le’Veon Bell, Jamaal Charles, and Todd Gurley have all transformed the running back position. Harkening to the world of contingent workforce management, its “running back” must continually move the “ball” forward in relation to everyday CWM operations in an effective and efficiency manner. That is why, with our fourth pick, we are selecting the procurement function. The Chief Procurement Officer (or its equivalent) plays an incredibly valuable role in managing today’s non-employee workforce by leveraging both the supplier management/spend management capabilities that the group is known for, and also serving as a “conduit of control” in better managing the new swath of talent sources that are shifting how work is addressed.
  • Round Five. Innovation is all around us, especially in the world of non-employee talent. The real “future of work” is built on the idea that innovative engagement approaches, supported by next-gen solutions and models, will completely revolutionize how work is addressed within the contemporary business. For professional football, innovation can take several forms. One such means is the evolution of the tight end position. Once considered a complementary piece for the running game, today’s tight ends have been shifted more into the passing game by becoming many QBs’ preferred red zone options. Tight ends such as Rob Gronkowski (New England), Travis Kelce (Kansas City), and Jimmy Graham (Seattle) have become superstar receivers. The tight end is our round five selection, and the comparison here is to innovation in the contingent workforce world, namely online staffing and talent platforms. These platforms are revolutionizing how talent is engaged, opening new options to business stakeholders as the “gig economy” continues to transform the global marketplace.
  • Round Six. Our final selection in today’s draft is a position that is often overlooked. A kicker is not often a high-round pick in fantasy football drafts; much of the “star power” falls to QBs, running backs, and wide receivers. However, the kicker is often the team player that scores the most points over the course of a football season, and can swing a game when put into a pressure-filled situation (sorry to bring up bad memories, Minnesota Vikings fans). The human capital management (“HCM”) function, our sixth round pick, is often overlooked when it comes to managing the fast-growing contingent workforce, however, they can certainly play a valuable role over the long haul. HCM leaders bring a range of talent acquisition, talent management, and recruiting expertise, and, with the integration of CWM and HCM technology playing a valuable role in the future of total workforce management (not to mention real collaboration between procurement, HR, and HCM leaders), human capital management will play an exceedingly valued role in the transformation of work and talent.

In regards to today’s evolving non-employee workforce, one thing is clear: the so-called “gig economy” is not just another fad, it is the way business, and work, will be addressed for years to come. And, to maximize its impact, companies must ensure that their CWM programs are equipped to handle this progression. By taking a fun look at “drafting” the elements of contingent workforce programs, businesses can understand why the makeup of their initiatives must leverage a variety of intricate pieces that can work together for a greater good.

Interested in the contingent workforce topic? Participate in our new State of Contingent Workforce Management research survey, and not only receive a complimentary edition of our new major market research study in October, but also receive an exclusive invitation to an “early research findings” webinar hosted by Ardent research director Christopher Dwyer. Hurry, spots for this event are limited!


CWM Heads to the Gridiron

How Will the “Gig Economy” Impact Procurement in 2017?

Why “On-Demand” is Shaping the Future of Work

The Role of Technology in Today’s Contingent Workforce Programs

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