As Director of Customer Solutions, I have the opportunity to see a wide range of customer situations related to workforce management -- some good, some bad. The reality of what I find in most cases is that most companies are in the same boat. They have the same concerns and are looking for the same answers. Here's a typical day for me.
Check some news feeds and blogs to see what's going on in the world, and if the Phillies are going to start hitting (again).
9 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Conduct morning call with one of our account representatives about a current customer who wants a vendor management system (VMS). The first thing they've asked for is a demo. We see this a lot, and I think it's a good example of the issues around making a technology decision in talent management. You have quite a few stakeholders (HR, procurement, finance, execs, users), and it revolves around people processes, which are never 100 percent consistent.
Usually buyers are enamored with technology but tend to rely too much on it to fix process problems. I think it's better to look at the business needs, analyze the processes (both good and bad), and then consider technology.
Notice I wrote consider. Technology is not always necessary or the best answer. Good technology that supports good processes can increase efficiency. Even great technology with bad processes leads to workarounds, low adoption, and dissastisfaction. That's why VMS tools tend to turnover, as companies don't get the fix they were looking for and point to the tool as the problem. It certainly can be the tool's fault, but in my experience, many times, it's the process.
Also, ease-of-use is still a big issue. If it's too complicated, users find short cuts or go around the system. Who wants to learn another system with another password?
Another conference call, this one to discuss the status of a recent implementation of a workforce program. Hearing about what's going on, both the good and bad, helps to keep me informed of the reality of what we are doing. Implementing a contingent workforce management program is about people, processes, and technology (in that order).
If it was as easy as plugging in a lamp, everyone would do it. I'm still amazed at the coordination required on all fronts for a good implementation and how critical the people are to the process. We're a service company and what people really want is real people to deal with. It's hard to find good people to provide good service to customers. But many times, it's as important as your product or service.
12 p.m. - 1 p.m.
Lunchtime! Eat, walk, get some air. I don't know about you, but as I get older, the hours behind a desk looking at this computer is hard on the eyes, my back, and my mind. I need to get out and walk. Ever seen "Joe Versus the Volcano" with Tom Hanks? Sometimes it feels like the fluorescent lights are sucking the life out of me.
It's time for our RFP (request for proposal) response call. We're responding to an RFP for managing a contingent staffing program. I've been involved in RFP responses for almost two decades now, and the RFP questions and processes haven't changed very much. This is very typical and unfortunately, probably won't have the results the customer wants.
Why? Because they ask a lot of standard questions, but don't give anywhere close to enough information on their processes, usage, and environment. We usually don't get that information until we've managed to win the RFP.
I know it's hard for a company to find or be comfortable releasing all that information, but to truly find the best workforce partner it takes some work on both sides. Unfortunately, most companies are not that open with a staffing vendor. If you're thinking of putting out an RFP for a new vendor, that's probably what you'll get -- just a vendor. Creating a partnership takes a little longer, but it's worth it.
I work on a few blog ideas and draft a comment for a workforce blog we follow. There's a lot of great information and ideas out there. Blogs and social networks are driving more companies to open up their content and add to the discussion. It used to be that you could just "keep your finger on the pulse" of the market. Now, if you don't participate, you might find that your company doesn't have much of a pulse.