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Managing Risk Takes Talent

Taking all the risk out of inherently risky situations has never been an easy task and probably never will be. (And no, I’m not talking about the Seahawks throwing a pass at the goal line instead of just running it in Super Bowl XLIX.) But for some industries and businesses, managing risk more successfully than others has become almost second nature.

by Mark Lanfear
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Think about the construction industry in the U.S. for example: Over the past 100 years, due to increased oversight, regulations, and competition, it has had to steadily improve standard jobsite practices to ensure the safety of its workers. Successful insurance companies help enterprises manage risk, and that industry relies on experience, data, and statistics to the nth degree to keep going and remain profitable even in the worst of times. By recognizing areas of concern and dealing with them up front as part of their best practices, risk becomes a smaller part of their clients’ business equation.

Managing risk successfully in the life sciences, consumer health, and biopharmaceutical industries involves how companies regulate liabilities in this vastly governed vertical and the litigation that might follow. A scenario might be how they deal with the untimely disruptions in the drug development process that can result in costly delays. But today, it’s more often a company’s workforce that can ensure successful business outcomes and decrease liability in the short and long term. Looking at the life science industry overall, you’ll see that companies are increasingly utilizing contingent or contract-based workforce solutions globally. This means understanding the value of contingent workforce management (CWM) is more important than ever, and misunderstanding it is a great RISK.

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Unlike days past when contingent workforce solutions might have been applied predominantly in relatively lower-skilled or short-term categories, CWM incorporates well-planned statements of work (SOW) put into action by highly talented, skilled consultants and independent contractors who undertake complex tasks for corporations. By sourcing highly skilled contingent labor, organizations can more effectively manage their spend for quality talent that is compliant with the SOW and help their customers not only reach tactical milestones, but also implement strategic goals.

It’s probably safe to say that no matter how big or small, many companies aren’t as well-equipped as they’d like to be to deal with the multifunctional demands and compliance that go along with hiring, managing, retaining, and releasing a capable contingent workforce.

However, there are ways to manage the talent risks you may be faced with in your research labs and manufacturing centers, while you continue to create opportunities for success. In fact, with the right contingent workforce strategies in place, organizations can meet or exceed their budget and production goals. An expert team of right-fit professionals yields greater flexibility, while at the same time holding down costs and surely decreasing the risk of overruns.

There’s no question that accessing and managing the human capital required to keep workflow steady and productivity uninterrupted across time zones and across cultures can seem daunting, especially in the demanding, expertise-driven world of the sciences. There is the need to manage increased security around inert products and I.D. management with a global workforce flowing on and off campuses daily while also maintaining a controlled laboratory environment, compliant clean-rooms … the list goes on and on.

As if that isn’t enough to put the importance of CWM into sharp focus, consider that without it, skilled talent will be harder to find, especially for peak or specialty projects that don’t require long-term commitments, which are so common in the life sciences arena. And it’s harder to manage costs without the predictability and discipline that dedicated, smart management provides.

So what’s the best approach to take in order to minimize and manage your risk when it comes to outsourcing the contingent workforce talent you need? It starts with applying best practice principles to the human side of business and finding suppliers you can trust with this most critical aspect of your business.

From my point of view, having a disciplined program around the management of your external workforce is something every science-oriented company should consider. Within the framework of proven talent supply chain management, it offers organizations a single-source provider of temporary labor, free agents, and service projects that drive quality of talent, cost savings, and process efficiency—three areas that most companies are typically most interested in optimizing. Handled correctly, you’ll get the high-caliber, culture-matched talent you need wherever you’re doing business.

When labor market insight, data analytics, and supply chain management principles are put in place, organizations can optimize their contingent labor spend, giving them access to service providers and quality talent at competitive rates and with minimized risk. And ultimately, that gives you the best possible way to keep your business moving forward, no matter how complex it is or how flexible you have to be.

To operationalize any goal, you first need the talent. Truly forward-thinking organizations are moving toward taking advantage of this outsourcing approach, which incorporates management of their entire workforce needs under a single talent strategy. Taking all the risk out of every business situation isn’t possible in the boardroom, in a lab, or on a football field for that matter. But taking the right steps to ensure success in achieving your business goals with a contingent workforce strategy will put the odds in your favor—not to mention, give you an opportunity to achieve the best possible, most consistent results wherever you are in the world.