Why Companies Should Leverage Contingent Staffing in Supply Chain

November 17, 2014

Overhead view of office staff

It’s a new world at work. The old vision of a successful professional career where an individual works their way up within one or three companies is far less common than it used to be. Today’s emerging workforce is more connected, more mobile, and more interested in working on a wide variety of projects in a wide variety of industries.

The 21st century professional is often less interested in advancing within hierarchical organizations, and more interested in picking up interesting skills in a variety of roles and gaining seniority that way as opposed to the traditional career growth approach. They’re also far more comfortable being entrepreneurial. And as part of this trend, contingent staffing is no longer just a stop-gap measure or a model for IT, engineering and temp/administrative work.

In Argentus’ area of specialty (strictly niche boutique staffing in supply chain recruiting), we’re seeing companies approaching us faster and faster to help them find contingent staff for a wider and wider variety of higher-skilled, professional jobs: vendor and contract management, strategic sourcing, supply and demand planning, change management, business operations, are but a few examples of the types of positions which are becoming more and commonly recruited for in longer term contract roles of three to eighteen month chunks of time.

Contingent staffing is providing an alternative to permanent hires for more and more sub functions within the wider areas of supply chain and procurement. We did a post in January about the many and increasing advantages companies see in contingent staffing for high-skilled professionals, everything from leave coverages, the ability to save on costs, the opportunity to augment staff for peak workloads, and so much more.

But that was at the beginning of the year. As 2014 draws to a close, here’s where the majority of the demand from companies across all sectors for contingent staffing in supply chain management has been:

To Manage Hiring Freezes

Many companies are still very much weathering the dreaded hiring freeze but the work still needs to get done. As we blogged about a few months ago, some of our clients have come to Argentus to use professionals in the contingent staffing space to ease the freeze in the procurement, change management and supply planning space. Typically, we’ll hear frequently from a senior hiring manager or director who has a backlog of project-based work, for example a ton of RFP responses to work through but the work just can’t get done without the permanent headcount – but a contractor just fits the bill. By hiring high-skilled contingent staff through a third party search firm, the hiring manager is able to incorporate pay, government burden and other costs into one overall bill rate. One invoice a month for the entirety of the contingent staffing services – they own the process, and have the flexibility if the business needs change to terminate early. And, best of all, the projects gets done.

Mentorship Opportunities

High-skilled contingent staffing in supply chain management represent an excellent opportunity to bring in senior employees to mentor less experienced permanent staff. In supply chain and procurement, there are a growing number of senior individuals with fantastic skills, nearing retirement, who’ve by choice made the switch to the contingent lifestyle. These professionals enjoy contract. And their skills and perspective can be immensely valuable to junior employees.

Change Management Is So Important

This is one of the most exciting emerging areas for high-skilled contingent staffing in SCM. We’ve blogged about this recently: with change and innovation being so important in the workplace, the opportunity to retain a senior, accomplished consultant to help negotiate that change management and business transformation is an ideal scenario for the contingent staffing model.

Some of the top procurement professionals in our network have shared with us that they often find it difficult to get buy-in from internal stakeholders in organizations. And many believe that contingent staffing is the best way to enact change across a procurement function which can be very political. High-skilled contingent staff tend to work more effectively within a more consultant/client style relationship than an employee/employer relationship.

What other applications can you recommend where contingent staff can be used well within the supply chain management space?

Over and out



  1. Dupre Jones

    Hi Bronwen-
    In 2018, the points you make in this article are even more important. The world’s leading staffing firms and contingent workforce thought leaders preach this message even more now that we’ve arrived in the era of a “liquid workforce” and “gig economy.” In the US, regulatory pressures from ACA and HOS for truck drivers provide contingent staffing firms a firm seat at the table for supply chain and operations managers.
    In my career, I used contingent staffing partners to prevent operational disruptions from spikes in order volume at e-commerce fulfillment centers during events like Black Friday (light industrial talent). At more senior levels, procurement contingent workforce talent is basically what firms like IBM, Accenture, Genpact and GEP provide, but on an engagement basis.

    Dupre Jones, MBA CPSM ITIL

    • Argentus

      Hi Dupre, thanks so much for your great comment!

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