Thanks for taking the time to open and read my points of view, I’m extremely passionate about all the topics I blog about and even if you take one thing from this let me know. 

Here’s one for you…” Why did the customer bring a magnifying glass to their latest software provider QBR? Because they wanted to see if they could find the value in the product they use”.

Okay that’s a bad joke to start, but in seriousness it’s a common theme that has been seen in the past when businesses have implemented extended workforce software solutions. Why spend the best part of a year implementing software solutions, but then fall short of the monitoring and tracking of the value you are getting? It happens, not in all cases, but it does. It’s not uncommon for businesses to budget well to implement solutions, but then not understand what needs to happen post implementation to monitor and review the value that was expected as a part of the implementation.

It’s vitally important to nail down what value you expect to gain from utilising extended workforce software, but it’s even more important you have the right protocols in place to that ensure value is trackable and adaptable. If you are experienced in implementing and managing workforce software, then I’m not telling you anything new. However how many businesses can put their hand on their heart and clearly demonstrate value gains from implementation to future years. Where I have seen, and experienced, failure in achieving value is when businesses are not tracking the right elements as well as lacking consistency throughout the tracking process.

Following a robust, and detailed, approach to assessing the value of your extended workforce software is paramount to success. However, if you don’t select measurable elements then you remove the ability to judge what success can look like, as well as being able to adapt your approach.

Before I go into my thoughts around this, I wanted to explain what I mean by extended workforce software because those who have experience in varying software’s will know, but if you have only experienced one channel you may not fully get what I mean.

How do I classify extended workforce software?

I would explain it as “The use of software solutions that enables the procuring and management of workers that are not directly pay rolled, or do not work as a directly contracted employee, by your business”. 

Software supports many areas of your business from managing the recruitment and onboarding process, through to financial process optimisation and analytics. Depending on your workforce needs will depend on the type of software you require to support your business, but you can summarise these into key segments:

There are other ways of segmenting these solutions, but if you wish to discuss in more detail and talk through what is available then please get in touch.

I am personally seeing businesses shift from a more traditional model of choosing one system, and to work with multiple software’s that enables different ways to engage and manage talent. Methods to source and manage external workers is evolving and no one solution will fit the needs of businesses that are large and complex in nature. Utilising these software’s will require oversight and depending on how the business operates will depend on whether an external managed service is utilised, or an inhouse team manage. It’s not uncommon to see a mix of both inhouse and external management that manage different sourcing channels.

What are my ‘must haves’ to lay the foundations to monitor and track expected value?

The utilisation of software to manage extended workforce is not new, it’s been around longer than the 20 years I have been in the industry. The number of providers offering solutions continue to expand and so does the different versions of what value means. 

I’m not here to talk through how to create value as that should be tailored to your business needs, but if doing so I always start by asking some key questions when looking to create objectives.

The list is not inclusive but is a good start that will help you dive into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ on what could bring you value.

When thinking more about how you can track value, if you don’t have the foundations in place and a consistent process to monitor, you must ask yourself what the point is. Each business engaging extended workers will be looking for specific value gains, I believe that if you approach the below areas you will well be on your way to effectively tracking the value of your extended workforce software.

Below are some of my thoughts on what’s required, from a governance and data perspective, to track the value you are getting. This is not a checklist that details out exactly how to track expected value, but more the basic foundations you need to have in place to ensure you can capture specific data that will aid the process.

Understand the relationship you have in place with your software provider and the teams managing them.

This is important so you understand what the provider offers from a service perspective. Some providers offer enhanced customer success options to support the tracking and evolution of software offered. The majority will offer a self-serve approach to enable you to take control of how you track elements. If you don’t fully understand the relationship make-up then do and ensure your business does as well. Assessing who is accountable is paramount to success and who should be doing what.

Have clear goals and objectives in place.

Yes an obvious one I know, but how can you track the value you are getting without these in place. Every provider should propose how to approach the creation of these, but you should not just take what a provider tells you. You must ensure that any objectives are set well before you select a provider(s) so you can ensure that which ever way you look to achieve them, it’s with the right provider(s) to get you where you expect to be. And then work with your selected provider(s) to drive towards achieving them.

Identify KPI’s and how you are going to track them.

KPI’s should come hand in hand with setting those objectives, without them you will struggle to ascertain any value. Your provider(s) should act as a good sounding board on how to effectively track value via their software, where possible. For example, if one of your KPI’s is to gain a specific rating from business managers on their experience of utilising key processes, then work with your provider(s) to set up all important satisfaction reviews at the end of processes is a must.

Make sure you agree a baseline on where you are now and where you want to be. It’s highly likely that you will need to report on the return on investment (ROI) to stakeholders. KPI’s become even more important at this point and having the right providers in place to support you is key.

Understand who is utilising the software and gaining feedback.

The users of any process managed by external workforce software is one of the most important factors in my eyes. If you don’t have visibility on user’s opinions then you don’t get a real view of how the population feel about the processes/services you are managing. The value you are looking to gain might have a positive or negative effect on your user community so getting a snapshot on the impacts is important.

Ensure you can report, and extract data, on key workflow steps and financial information.

I have always lived by the mantra of “If you can’t report on something how can you judge the effectiveness of what you are doing”. Of course, we should never forget about how our gut feels about a situation, but to justify your feelings having data to back it up is essential. It should be a given in today’s software world, but still double check that you can report on all those key elements of your processes. For example, you may have objectives around improving the time it takes to onboard workers into your business, that means that you need to be clear that each step in that process is reportable so you can be data driven in your decision making. Don’t forget the detail, there might be a specific check or process that is causing you issues and without the data behind it you 100% will not be able to identify what’s working well and what’s not.

Have data alignment between integrated systems and your provider(s) software where necessary.

The synchronisation of business structure, financial data and specific data associated to engaging extended workers is a significant element to have. In the last ten years I have not come across many businesses that don’t utilise an integrated solution into extended worker software. Where I have seen businesses have issues with tracking value has been around the post implementation maintenance of data. For example, I have experienced several businesses that implemented an integrated solution for managing purchase order numbers which on go-live worked seamlessly. They fell short because no validations were implemented to monitor the performance and alignment of that data which then had downstream impacts on invoicing KPI’s. If your data is not aligned correctly then you will see impacts on the value you look to expect.

Governance in place to monitor and manage software gaps, issues, and enhancements.

Some providers offer these services as a part of their software, but there are a number that don’t. Whatever the method is, please ensure that you have one in place. If you are not capturing and tracking gaps, issues, and enhancements you can’t review what’s going on and what’s been done to enhance the value you are getting. It’s important to remember that the project of engaging software is not just about implementation. The project should be seen as the full length of your engagement with providers, implementation is just one phase, going into ‘business as usual’ is another phase. I have seen more success from businesses that treat the management of software this way, it ensures that resources involved forge to a common goal. Gaining specific objectives can just be seen as new milestone to work towards, just like you would with an implementation go-live.

There may be bespoke items you have agreed to gain value on that could fall outside on these, but for sure you will be able to track what you need if you think about these points. And remember these are just my personal thoughts without knowing the detail of your business and what value you are looking to achieve.

Once you have the foundations in place how should you manage

Put your hand up if you have ever forgotten to review something you had scheduled to do? (my hand is up!). The biggest cause of failure is the follow-up and monitoring of tracking your objectives, whether you are on target or not. Taking accountability and delivering on actions is paramount to success and you need to have the right resources and governance in place to do this. These resources need to have a united culture and motivation to succeed. Managing an extended workforce program is a niche area that if not managed correctly can have serious impacts on your business, from talent attraction right through to achieving important business projects.

When I look back at my experiences, the use of a quarterly business review (QBR) commonly gets deployed as the primary way to monitor and track value. I personally don’t care for this terminology and approach; I have seen examples where a lot tends to hinge on this type of management and removes any agility to succeed. We have a tendency in the workforce arena to think that having a QBR shows justification that we are ticking all the governance boxes, but this approach can cause challenges due to limited frequency, lack of actionable content, the subjective nature they can operate in, and that a ton of data tends to be shown for data sake. I’m aware not everyone shares my views on this, but that’s what it is, a viewpoint.

My preferred approach is to focus on the motivation and culture of the resources in play. With the right people, and mentality, you can implement several methods that ensures you are utilising the software you use for success. Then from this it’s all about applying a more frequent and targeted approach to managing the value you expect from your software. I have seen greater success when considering:

I strongly believe that we all need to be more agile and flexible with our methods to track and gain value, no single process fits all business’s needs. But the one constant element is that gaining value requires engaged resources to be consistent, persistent, open minded and can change and evolve.

I hope my views have sparked some positive thoughts. 

If you wish to discuss how to get on the right path to success with your extended workforce software, just get in touch.

EW Scope is here to support the success of your extended workforce solutions.

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