For the past several years, we’ve been writing about the changes in the talent landscape for Procurement in Canada – chief of which is the growing adoption of contingent rather than permanent staffing. More organizations in industries like the Public Sector, Consumer Goods, Retail and Pharmaceutical are hiring high-skilled Procurement professionals on a contract basis. They’re hiring on contingent for reasons as traditional as leave coverages and work backlogs, but they’re also leveraging short-term, high-skilled workers for business transformations, product launches, and other strategic projects. As of 2015, the average business employed 20% of its employees on a contract basis, and that number’s been rising as more organizations adopt the contingent workforce as part of their talent strategies.
2017 was the biggest year in Argentus’ history in terms of contingent staffing for Procurement. In the fall, we had some high-profile clients approach us with contract opportunities for senior Procurement professionals. It made for a busy and exciting couple of weeks.
In the interest of showing our readers what’s happening in the marketplace, here are some quick case studies of how some top organizations are using contingent staffing to boost their Procurement at the senior level. We’ve kept the company names anonymous, but we guarantee you’ve heard of all of them:
Company #1: A Public Sector Organization Sourcing for New Initiatives
This Ontario Public Sector organization reached out to us in October with a contingent staffing project. They’ve recently expanded their mandate, resulting in an influx of new strategic sourcing projects – without the budget to hire full time staff. They had to pull existing full-time staff onto the new major project, and decided that contingent staffing could be a solution. Their head of Procurement contacted Argentus based on our reputation for contingent staffing in this area, and said “I know you can get great employees either cheap, or fast, and fast is my priority.”
To work on their new project, the successful candidate needed to have significant strategic experience and a strong understanding of the regulatory environment around Public Sector Procurement – far from just dealing with the extra admin of the new project, this person was expected to take over high-level leadership. Within a week, we were able to forward four profiles of senior-level candidates with the right blend of wide category experience, leadership, and strategic ability.
As recruiters, we love when the process goes so seamlessly. A new client had an urgent need, and our network stepped up enough that they ended up hiring two Procurement specialists – one with a history of managing a variety of teams and projects, and the other with a large range of Procurement experience across a number of categories in the Public Sector. Call it a two’fer.
Time to hire: 10 days.
Company #2: A Public Sector Organization Expanding Facilities
This was another new client who approached us in November because of a less urgent, but still crucial, need within their Procurement group. This Public Sector organization, based in Toronto, is building out a new office in another Canadian city, so were experiencing an increased workload for their sourcing.
This role required someone with IT strong “vertical” Procurement experience who could analyze the entire process from an analytics and research standpoint, all the way to strategic sourcing, to category and vendor management and complex contract negotiations, on a 12-18 month term as the company expanded its offices.
When we got the call, Argentus tapped into our network to reach out to generalists with experience in multiple categories who were comfortable working at every level – from the analytics at the front-end of Procurement to the higher-level strategy and contract negotiations that deliver value at the back-end. These people were “classic” contractors in the sense that they preferred working on a fixed-term contract because of the tax, lifestyle and working-style advantages that contract can provide. After several rounds of interviews, our client hired an individual with a background in permanent full-time, who decided to switch to contract a few years ago because they loved the opportunity to work on a wide swath of projects and industries.
Time to hire: 3 weeks.
Company #3: A Toronto Media Company Transforming its Procurement Function
This company is spooling up a significant business transformation for their Procurement function, seeking to centralize and adopt a share services, vendor management model. They came to Argentus in November with a need for a senior Procurement consultant who could help oversee this transition. We’ve written in the past about why these kinds of business transformations are perfect opportunities for contingent staffing: the organization can bring on the most strategic, high-level thinkers they can find who then lead the transformation process in concert with senior leadership. Often full-time staff are too engaged in fighting fires as part of the day-to-day Procurement process to implement wider changes in strategy. So it’s a perfect fit for a high-level consultant – with specific expertise in transformations – who will come in to implement new technology, process improvements, vendor management, and change management. They’ll educate and empower the full-time staff, and when the transformation is finished, move on to other opportunities. This lets the company engage in top-level strategy without carrying an executive salary for years afterward.
In this case, the company was looking for someone with a wealth of big-picture experience who could work with both the Procurement organization and executive team setting overall strategy. We submitted five candidates with transformation backgrounds, and our client ended up hiring a gem – a pure Procurement consultant with his own consulting practice who’s led Procurement transformations for a number of clients across financial services, tech, and other industries.
Time to hire: 3 weeks.
All told, it was a busy couple months for contingent staffing in Procurement – and 2018 shows no signs of letting up.