How to Scale Your Contingent Workforce for Business Agility

Tamir Shafer
Tamir Shafer
Vice President of Coupa Contingent Workforce (CCW)

Tamir Shafer is responsible for strategically growing this segment of Coupa’s business. Tamir holds a BSc in Finance from the University at Albany, SUNY, and resides in Boca Raton, Florida.

Read time: 4 mins
Resilience People

Businesses of all sizes have scaled their contingent workforce over the past decade. A new report by research firm Ardent Partners finds that usage of these non-employee workers in enterprises has more than doubled from 20 percent to 43 percent in the last decade. 

In today’s rapidly-changing and unstable economy, contingent labor has taken on new importance in how organizations think about scaling talent at the right time. Companies who’ve changed their mix towards more use of contingent workers are seeing more flexibility to reduce costs in the short term and bounce back quickly as business opportunities change and grow.

More companies are seeing these benefits now than they ever have before. In the year prior to the pandemic, the utilization of temporary workers grew at a record pace. This is not surprising given the need to be able to adjust the size of a workforce based on market trends and other business dynamics in this new normal.

Ardent Partners found that nearly 80 percent of enterprises increased utilization of contingent talent. The report notes that  “short term engagements, quick access to skill sets, and the ability to onboard quickly have been value drivers in the 2010s; they will be fundamental staff characteristics in the 2020s.”

In addition to increasing the agility of your workforce, using temporary contingent labor is a way to identify permanent employee candidates that are a great fit for your business. Converting temps to full-time roles, when the time is right financially for your business, is an ideal way to scale your talent.

 [Read the Full Ardent Partners Report: The State of the Contingent Workforce]

To successfully scale your contingent workforce to support business agility, follow these six steps:

Know Your Talent: Get Visibility into Your Contingent Workforce

Do you know who is doing work for your company, what they are doing, and how much you are paying them? Do you know if they have the right access and qualifications? With a large contingent workforce, it’s imperative to have a comprehensive Vendor Management System (VMS) in place to track all of your talent.

Mitigate Risk: Correct Invoice Errors and Combat Fraud

Mistakes happen, and unfortunately, they can happen when thousands of contract workers are submitting invoices to your overworked AP department. Whether you are unknowingly suffering from fraud, overpaying, or paying for services not delivered, digitizing your end-to-end process for managing contingent workers with a VMS fully integrated with your P2P process can help you identify fraud before the money goes out the door.

Staff Up Fast: Find Qualified and Eligible Workers on Your Schedule

Even with an approved budget, it can be very challenging to find qualified and eligible contingent workers for your open positions and projects. Without effective processes, the lead time to get workers in-seat can be incredibly long, slowing key projects and hurting the bottom line. Use a VMS system that enables you to initiate a request for a temporary or SOW project, collect bids/candidates from suppliers, evaluate, and select the right candidates and project bids.

Procure with Ease: Create an Efficient Services Procurement Process

Especially in challenging times, effective PO processes give leaders the visibility and control they need to hit budget targets and prevent unnecessary spend. By fully integrating your VMS and P2P systems in a unified Business Spend Management (BSM) platform, you ensure that work doesn’t start until the budget has been approved. Once approved, there’s no delay in releasing the work order to the supplier. By doing this all in a single system that the hiring manager, vendor, and procurement team can use, you save resources and projects start faster.

Onboard Rapidly: Get Your Contingent Workers Up to Speed with Speed

Once you’ve selected your candidate and released a work order, you’re ready to onboard your worker. If you have a handful of temporary workers, going through a manual onboarding process is possible. But if your business uses many non-employee workers and constantly brings on new workers and service providers, scaling and streamlining your onboarding process is a must. Maintain audit records and background checks automatically by vetting and onboarding contingent workers with a VMS system.

Manage and Evaluate Temporary Workers: Analyze Services Spend and Worker Performance

Just because your workers are contingent, doesn’t mean they should not be managed and evaluated. Use a system that makes it easy for hiring managers to oversee their contingent workers and remove poor-performing employees while recognizing and motivating top performers.

By following these six steps above, you will be ready to scale your workforce with contingent labor, and build agility to ensure your business successfully navigates the uncertain economy and prepares to thrive in the years ahead.

Learn more about the state of the contingent workforce in Ardent Partners’ new report: The State of the Contingent Workforce.