Ardent Partners has identified the components to “agile analytics” within a contingent workforce management (CWM) program, a concept that builds upon the foundation of business intelligence (BI) and applies its competencies to the CWM world. Agile analytics are not the classic form of data analytics and reporting, and even traverse beyond the notion of “drill-down” reporting. This article will set the stage for “agile” or next-gen CWM analytics by looking at one of the most robust technologies in the space, Vendor Management Systems (VMS), and how they clear the path towards true intelligence in the CWM world.
VMS as a Platform for Intelligence
While pure BI platforms are an astute means of improving the average organization’s visibility into a wide variety of spend categories, enterprise processes and functional areas, the contingent workforce category benefits from a platform that speaks directly to contract talent stakeholders. Thus, BI and agile analytics provided by VMS technology can be an ideal solution due to the VMS’ direct link to management of contingent labor. VMS is a conduit to agile analytics due to the following reasons:
- VMS’ ability to dig deep into the complex contract talent portion of the contingent workforce umbrella. Statement of Work (SOW) and services remain the “hottest” components of the CWM umbrella today for one singular reason: they garner the most attention of business leaders and generally have many “layers” that must be managed from a variety of strategic angles. VMS platforms have been tailored in recent years to specifically manage these components of the contingent workforce umbrella.
- Access to a wealth of specific spend, supplier, and utilization data. Not all BI solutions can tap into hidden data that sits in the farthest reaches of the modern organization. A category like contingent labor has ties to most functional areas, many different organizational budgets, and unique suppliers depending on the unit (IT, finance, administration, etc.). VMS platforms have the ability to tap into all forms of contingent labor across all divisions and business locations; this access can capture data that enterprise-level BI systems might otherwise miss.
- Direct user links to relevant data. An old adage in the procurement industry is “not all data is good data.” The same phrase rings true in the contingent workforce world. Those users of VMS technology typically know what to “do” with relevant CWM-specific data. Enabled with agile analytics, even the most unsophisticated VMS user can extract more value out of contingent workforce data than the simple BI user who cannot view how data connected to SOW-based projects / services or other forms of contingent labor can be analyzed and utilized.
Vendor Management Solutions can provide much more value than their namesake. For procurement practitioners and those that manage contingent labor, VMS solutions can uncover hidden truths lying within the enterprise and help them make better business decisions as a result. While not purpose built to analyze data and provide business intelligence to practitioners, VMS solutions can clear the proverbial path towards a more agile approach to BI and data analytics for contingent workforce managers. The next installment in this series will look at user-level flexibility as the next critical element in next-gen CWM analytics.