Insights

Why Short Term Contract Staffing Can be Just as Strategic as Longer-Term Contracts

February 22, 2021

Here’s why a 3-6 month contract hire for Supply Chain roles can offer tremendous strategic value — especially in the current environment. 

As we’ve written about on the Argentus blog, contract staffing (also known as contingent staffing) has changed quite a bit over the past several years – especially in the areas of Supply Chain Management, Procurement, and Logistics. It’s no longer just for leave coverages. Companies are now using contingent staffing for a number of strategic business cases include work backlogs, business transformations, new product launches and others (see our infographic about this topic for more info).

In short, companies that hire on contract in these areas can hire faster, more flexibly, and save on headcount when project-based work is complete. And far from only being a “stopgap” on the way to permanent employment, the Supply Chain field now has a significant number of candidates who choose contract work for the flexibility, tax advantages through incorporation, and lifestyle reasons.

Along with permanent staffing, it’s a major tool in companies’ hiring toolboxes, allowing them to get big gains and save on long-term costs. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, with disruptions, shifting skills needs, and uncertainty.

In our recruitment practice, we’ve long been a supplier of choice for major companies’ contingent staffing needs in Supply Chain, and we’ve seen companies during this period utilize contract staff for backlogs as well as rapid transformation to adapt to the changing environment.

As we service clients in contingent staffing, there’s one question we often hear that we want to talk about today:

“Do you find people for 3 to 6 month assignments?”

In short, the answer is yes.

Sometimes clients assume that because our contingent staffing is at the sole contributor level and above (in other words, we don’t tend to place warehouse staff or other front line roles), we won’t work on short term assignments. In fact, we regularly fill 3 to 6 month contract roles, in addition to longer term assignments of 12 or 18 months. For example, we recently recruited six Coupa analysts on short term contracts for a renowned Canadian food production company.

For short term (3 to 6 month) contracts, companies tend to hire for more junior / sole contributor roles. Examples include:

  • Supply Chain Analysts, Logistics Analysts, EDI Coordinators,
  • Sourcing Analysts, Coupa Analysts, P2P Analysts, Buyers
  • Demand Planners, Supply Planners, Production Planners

Short term contracts for more transformational, leadership roles are rarer of course. A company can get huge gains by bringing on a senior Business Transformation expert with who’s done it before, with large companies, paying a higher hourly wage but with a fixed term. These roles tend to last 6 to 12 months, or even more – even the most accelerated transformation takes time.

But short term contracts can be great to help implement those transformations. And just because a role has a short term, say 3 to 6 months, doesn’t mean it can’t be strategic.

Take the example of the six Coupa analysts above. That organization (name confidential) had just undergone a strategic sourcing transformation to a Procure-to-Pay model using Coupa, and they needed administrators to manage the ongoing implementation and administration of the program. They needed people with deep Coupa experience to smooth out problems as they arose, and also to migrate suppliers to the new platform. Because it was a short-term need, they set six month contract terms. Within two weeks, Argentus had placed all six roles using our network of Supply Chain professionals.

All in all, the organization found qualified resources remarkably quickly compared to a conventional hiring model – and after the contract terms ended, they didn’t need to keep on the headcount. The contractors moved on to further contracts, or perm roles, and the company enjoyed the benefits of the transformation.

But that’s just one example. From our perspective, here are some of the other ways that companies can leverage short-term contract roles, especially in this environment:

  • To navigate heavy workloads due to COVID-19 disruptions. Many organizations are still facing tremendous Supply Chain disruptions due to COVID-19. In some cases, they’re working to get caught up now that they’re no longer fighting day-to-day fires. For example, we’re currently recruiting a Sourcing Specialist on a 3 month contract for a world-class retailer that’s navigating a Procurement backlog.
  • New System Implementations. Many organizations have used this time to pivot, either to respond to changing business needs, or just to prep for the future. This is similar to the Coupa example above, but true of other implementations like SAP, or other ERP systems. Many companies prefer to have their existing resources stay on task, and bring on short-term contractors to manage data migration, supplier migration, and other ongoing support.
  • Leave coverages. This is a common, and traditionally less-strategic reason to place a short term contract, but it has new relevance in this era – and can actually be highly strategic. COVID-19 has disrupted workplaces everywhere, and companies are looking to contractors to augment their resources in the ace of this disruption. It’s not just people getting sick – many departments are dealing with individuals quarantining for two weeks due to possible exposure or other reasons. A skilled contractor can act as an “extra set of hands” and fill in gaps on a rolling basis, without the organization having to take on long-term headcount.

There are a lot of business cases where it can be tremendously valuable. But the market for these individuals isn’t always easy to access – and sourcing short-term contractors internally can expose companies to Employee Misclassification risk. If we can toot our own horn, that’s why companies use Argentus: we’re able to quickly source and present pre-qualified resources who can hit the ground running, and by acting as a third party payrolling provider, you can ensure that these individuals maintain the arms-length relationship that the law requires.

So can we help your organization?

To learn more about how short-term contractors can boost your Supply Chain function and minimize risk, contract our President, Bronwen Hann at 416 364 9919 or bhann@argentus.com.

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