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Monday, November 14, 2016

The Consumerization of Contingent Workforce Management Technology

By Brad Martin, Senior Director of Product Marketing | PRO Unlimited 

Within the contingent workforce industry, vendor management systems (VMS) have been plagued by a lack of consumerization. As in many industries, the technology has historically suffered from a robotic and cumbersome approach to user interaction. Now, however, there is a dramatic change happening in enterprise software design. The chasm between the consumer and enterprise experience is quickly closing. New “consumerized enterprise” solutions extend user experiences found in the world’s leading consumer applications to the business domain. 

The goal is to create an environment of efficiency. There needs to be a synergy between enterprise processes and the ease-of-use that these VMS deliver to both HR managers and contingent workers. End users, whether they are at home or at work, want solutions that are intuitive, easy-to-use, and deliver functionality that meets their transactional or business requirements.

Therefore, it’s critical that VMS software is designed for an omni-channel experience. The concept of an omni-channel VMS experience is simple, effective, and required for the evolving workforce. Users can access and utilize all major functions of the VMS from any device (web, mobile, tablet, and wearable). They can quickly review and approve timecards, expenses, statement-of-work (SOW) billing, among other notifications and requests. Ultimately, an omni-channel experience delivers the following benefits: faster execution, faster decision-making, and faster adoption. For example, when a worker or manager log in from their desktop or mobile device, there should be a short list of tasks that require completion. This enables a more actionable view of primary responsibilities and allows the user to optimize their time without wasting precious clicks searching for items that do not need immediate attention. 

Another area that benefits contingent workforce management technology is “contextual interface design.” In this type of design, the buttons on the interface will adapt to elevate the appropriate action for any task. There may be recently created requests and the actions required in context to its status. For a request that is in a “candidates submitted” status, the action button presented might say “review resumes”. However, that same action button might say “contact approver” if the request is waiting for approval before it can be submitted to suppliers. In either case, the action that users take will be in context to the status of that request.

VMS features should also incorporate vendor profiles containing a “Yelp!-like” review system that produces a rating for managers to reference when selecting vendors. Additionally, vendors can manage aspects of their profile though a vendor portal. Managers who wish to include a request for information (RFI) as part of a project request can do so by creating their questions through a Survey Monkey-type interface.  When reviewing quote submissions, the manager can review the quote and RFI details in a side-by-side view that rivals that of a Consumer Reports shopping application.

Finally, there is a need to understand that consumerization is the reorienting and reimagining of enterprise software away from “process-driven design” and towards delivering a rich, enjoyable experience. Organizations that manage contingent workforces can now realize the benefits of a new design approach that creates more intuitive user interfaces while incorporating familiar UI patterns and features like real-time in app messaging, peer rating for vendors, and contextual action. These types of features along with mobile functionality will result in delivering greater business outcomes across the enterprise like never before.


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