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Software Firms Riding Contingent Staffing Wave

October 14, 2010

The rapid growth in contingent staffing has benefited not only the companies that provide the labor but also the firms that help manage the vendors and offer high-tech solutions for automating the process.

Indeed, many of the software companies that provide vendor management systems for tracking contingent labor are reporting record sales. For example, Provade Inc., a San Mateo, California-based vendor management systems company, reports that sales increased 200 percent in 2009 and are on track for another year of similar increases in 2010.

Edward Jackson, president and CEO of Provade, says many large companies are trying to get a better grip on spending for contingent labor, which typically comes through front-line supervisors and procurement officers rather than human resource channels. That spending is often categorized in ways that make it difficult to track contingent labor usage. As a result, Jackson says, companies can easily underestimate contingent labor usage by as much as 50 to 100 percent. “In the past two years, companies are realizing that their estimates of contingent usage are a fraction of what they really are,” he says.

In addition to vendor management systems, companies are increasingly using managed service providers for their temporary workers. The managed service providers are conducting compliance screening for such things as legal status and proper use of contract labor. One of the newest twists in the field of managing contingent workers is the creation of online alumni communities. These Internet portals can provide a way for companies to stay in touch with former workers and post temporary and contract jobs that might be of interest to retirees or other former employees who already possess needed skills and knowledge.

SourceRight Solutions, a workforce management services provider that is a division of SFN Group Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has developed an alumni portal as part of its portfolio of contingent labor services. “There are quite a few portals for the full-time side of the house, but you don’t see a lot on the contingent side,” says Karen Turner, vice president of contingent workforce services at SourceRight.

Autodesk Inc., a San Rafael, California, software and design company that uses SourceRight to help manage its independent contractors, may be interested in trying an alumni portal as well. Laura Schuchardt, talent acquisition program manager at Autodesk, says an unusually high number of former workers return to permanent positions at Autodesk, and that trend is now spreading to the contingent side. Schuchardt would like to keep track of those alumni and reach out to them when temporary or contract jobs match their skills. “I don’t think we are leveraging it to full capacity,” she says.

Workforce Management, October 2010, p. 34 -- Subscribe Now!