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AI, Machine Learning and the Data-Driven Future of Contingent Workforce

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The good news is that your organization has begun progressing toward a coordinated, integrated approach to managing its external workforce. Your firm has embraced the workforce flexibility, access to outside skillsets, and enhanced productivity the agile workforce offers. The bad news is that everyone else in your industry has discovered these benefits as well, and competition for top outside talent is fast-paced, fierce, and constantly changing.

As non-traditional workers take on more and more critical roles within the company, the potential payoff increases, along with the risk and negative consequences of poor performance and decisions. The winners in the competition for the best contingent workers will be the firms that can adopt a total workforce management program that uses data-driven decisions and programs to strategically determine best practices, benchmark performance against industry standards, and employ analytical tools to constantly improve. This demands a more mature, structured management plan.

The Power of Data in Contingent Workforce Management

To make strong data-informed decisions, you need strong data. Clean, consolidated data that collects consistent information about workers, vendors, tasks, and the various costs and tangible benefits of using each type of agile worker will set the stage for using big data. Done correctly, you will have a solid foundation for constructing a platform that will not only position your firm to respond nimbly to changes in the market or supply chain but also create revenue and cut costs in your human resources, finance, procurement, and other non-traditional centers of sustainable competitive advantage.

Extending the digital revolution to workforce management connects labor users to the functions that find, onboard, pay for, and evaluate it through data. Data should enable decision makers to intuitively navigate the flow of work through the entire process from:

  • Identification of the need for a specific skill, person, or task to be completed,
  • Matching the need to the ideal team to accomplish it – whether in-house talent, external workers, or a combination of each,
  • The successful resolution and offboarding of any agile talent that was engaged, and final analysis of the process, the project, and the vendors involved.

Developing the Tools to Make It Happen

From a practical standpoint, a data-driven contingent workforce management scheme starts by using historical performance to grade each step and participant. This will give you a benchmark by which to measure progress as you streamline processes, negotiate the learning curve, standardize operating procedures, and identify competent partners. Real advantage vis-à-vis your competitors does not arrive, however, until your data can predict successful outcomes and point to the best path to achieve them. This is where business intelligence combines with human intelligence to use data to uncover the worker characteristics, process workflows, vendor involvement, management decisions, etc. that have produced the desired results in similar projects and set events in motion to duplicate them on the current undertaking.

  • First-Party Data – First-party, firm-level data is generated in-house and is the most accurate and pertinent information you have. Currently, most firms’ first-party data consists primarily of transaction-based activities such as how long it took to fill a vacancy, which labor delivery method was used, how much it cost, etc.

    But you could be doing so much more with this valuable resource. You could transform data from a historical record to a forward-looking resource that tells you how to deal with future job openings and skill needs. By collecting data points such as each hire’s qualifications, how long he or she took to complete each task, the number of applicants you received for the position, and more, your workforce management program becomes predictive rather than reactionary.  You then can see which sets of characteristics yielded the best results and you can duplicate those conditions when similar situations arise. If freelance graphic artists supplied by Company A created better logos at a lower cost than people working under statement of work contracts supplied by Company B, you will know where to turn the next time you need artwork.
  • Enrichment with Third-Party Data – Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. There are many more data points that contribute to performance. Your company’s agile workforce management program likely cannot collect enough data to create a base that is statistically significant. That’s where data enrichment comes in. Data enrichment is the process of layering your first-party data with similar and complementary data from outside sources. This purchased data adds depth and breadth to the items you track. Third-party data includes surveys and studies as well as industry-wide statistics that you can use to benchmark your program’s cost, effectiveness, and operations. Production becomes optimized. You will know which type of contingent worker performs best in which roles, how much it will cost, and when the job will get done. Such visibility connects labor management to procurement, budgeting, compliance, marketing and other strategic functions throughout your organization.
  • Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence – Automating routine tasks and calculations and analysis of pages of data frees managers and strategists to concentrate on interpreting the information data projects. Continuously applying new insights and additional data points enables machines to “learn” from inconsistencies and less-than-ideal outcomes to make better action “suggestions” and create more powerful algorithms.

    Machines make life easier for people by formatting unstructured data into consistent presentations, displaying results, forecasts, and comparisons in intuitive dashboards that enhance the user experience and foster collaboration, and building organization-wide transparency to firms' labor requirements and assets at any given point in time in the present and the future.

MetaProcure harnesses the power of advanced data analytics and subject matter expertise to create the optimal contingent workforce model for your organization. Whether your goal is cost savings, process visibility, risk management, or talent procurement, MetaProcure’s full line of workforce management services makes us the perfect partner for your business.


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