What’s the Big Buzz about the External Workforce?

One of the many characteristics of a superorganism, like a bee, is its innate omniscience and total visibility over what is happening in its colony at all times. Businesses, like yours, should seek ways to replicate such visibility over the entire workforce.

The importance of every role

The honey bee is one of nature’s most successful superorganisms. The nature of a superorganism means that they work in perfect synergy at all times.

There are three roles of a bee in the hive:

1. The queen

2. The worker

3. The drone

Each role assumes various, equally crucial responsibilities. Without the support of the drones and the workers, the queen bee is unable to establish new colonies. No single role can survive without the support of the entire colony.

Collective Intelligence

This is where the phenomenon of the Hive Mind comes in. Bees avoid a total collapse of operations through a biological programming that provides them with total visibility – constantly – of what is happening in the hive. This collective intelligence is referred to as the hive mind. I will return to this phenomenon shortly.

The Rise of the External Workforce

Through speaking to many of our customers, it is evident that businesses often have a system in place to manage their internal workforce with a close eye. However, an average of 42% of the workforce is actually external to the main business and is consequently not being managed through the usual HR systems and processes. Similarly to a network of superorganisms, the importance of each role should not be underestimated, whether internal or external to your business.

We have all seen how unprecedented global events have highlighted the importance of agility in business. The ebbs and flows of supply and demand in light of such disruption mean easy and efficient access to temporary skilled workers is more important than ever before.

The Artificial Hive Mind

Unfortunately, unlike bees, we do not have an innate biological computer to determine who is doing what, and when. What we can have in its place, however, is a Vendor Management System like SAP Fieldglass. A Vendor Management System can provide us with a computerised Hive Mind and equip us with that superorganism level of visibility and granularity.

Who, what, where, and when?

As I mentioned earlier, despite the undeniable importance of having control over the external workforce, most customers with whom we speak have blind spots in their data – or worse – absolutely no solid source of data whatsoever. By identifying these blind spots, and keeping tabs on who is doing whatwhere they are doing it and when it was done, businesses are able to take advantage of the following opportunities:

  • Financial visibility – simply fit the external workforce category into the wider jigsaw of your total spend
  • Tracking assets – making sure costly assets are returned when a worker is off-boarded to avoid leakage of this capital from your business
  • Market rates – ensure you are paying in line with the market rate for a particular skill set
  • Overtime costs – identify where a high amount of your spend is going on workers working overtime and validate if this can be remedied
  • Discount capture – do you have big services contracts that could benefit from negotiation?
  • Onboarding and offboarding happens a lot more frequently with external workers, automating this allows efficiency and time savings on this process
  • Certifications – be sure you are vetting and hiring workers who have all necessary qualifications for the role and keep a paper trail of this for compliance audits

In summary, your External Workforce is a glaringly obvious first port of call if you’re looking for ways to improve your bottom line and drive compliance. Make sure it doesn’t go overlooked.