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Please don’t compare me to the temp market!!

At DRS, we offer outsourced contract management solutions.  In simple terms, we help our clients to negotiate contracts from scratch, to amend them when and if necessary, and to properly understand what they say.

Prospective clients sometimes look at the services we offer as being interchangeable with those of the temp market.  I think that to do so is an error.  I believe that we offer something fundamentally different to the temp market, and here’s why…

It’s true to say that outsourcing and temporary resourcing are two options that businesses consider when seeking additional expertise or manpower.  Make no mistake – the temp market is great.  It provides a valuable source of capacity to the market – one which is best suited to certain types of specific (relatively short-term) engagements – such as covering sickness or maternity leave.

However, the temp market should NOT be confused with outsourcing.  Outsourcing is a long-term partnership – albeit one that can also be deployed to achieve shorter-term objectives (like project work).  Without doubt, costs savings (often significant ones) can be achieved.  However, if done well, outsourcing offers more than simply costs savings.  It allows clients to focus on what truly ‘moves the needle’ in terms of their business – redirecting internal resource and talent away from non-core functions and towards core business activities and strategic initiatives – things that can deliver true competitive advantage.  In doing so, it helps clients to take advantage of opportunities that no amount of temps can create.

This table captures the main characteristics of the service offered by the temp market compared to that of outsourcing services provided by DRS.

 Temp marketOutsourcing
Fundamental nature of the engagementAcquisition of the services of one or more individuals.Acquisition of a service, designed to provide an agreed upon end-result at a known cost (for example, a set of negotiated documentation).  
Best suited toShort-term engagements.  Long-term strategic partnerships and short-term engagements.  
Access to talentImmediately available (depending on market conditions).  Immediately available.
RecruitmentRemains the responsibility of the employerIs the responsibility of the outsourcing partner.  
TrainingRemains the responsibility of the employer (to the extent required).  Is the responsibility of the outsourcing partner.  
On-going managementRemains the responsibility of the employer.Is the responsibility of the outsourcing partner.  
SkillsRestricted to the skill-set of the individual(s) recruited.Access to the skill-set of the outsourcing partner’s entire organisation.  
Productivity and cultural fit  Are a function only of the individual employed and depend largely on the success of the recruitment process.  The productivity and attitude of those providing services to the client are the responsibility of the outsourcing partner – the client is paying for an agreed end-result only.  
Knowledge retentionTends to reside (and leave) with the individuals employed in a temporary capacity.  It is the responsibility of the outsourcing partner to embed knowledge back into the client organisation at all points of the engagement.  
Transparency of serviceDepends on the processes already in place within the employer organisation.MI and reporting in an agreed form are provided as part of the outsourcing arrangement.  
Strategic alignmentRecruited to perform the task at hand only.  Aligned to the long-term objectives of the client.
Continuity of serviceDepends on the ability of the employing organisation to retain the temporary members of staff (which is largely dependent on prevailing market conditions).  Is the responsibility of the outsourcing partner (and is supported by the management and training structures which the outsourcing partner has in place).
Scalability and flexibilityAbility to scale up (subject to market conditions) but results in increased internal burden in terms of recruitment, training and on-going management.   Ability to scale down is subject to existing contractual obligations.  Flexibility to scale both up and down, depending on business requirements.
Investment in processNone.  This remains the responsibility of the employer.  Outsourcing partners are incentivised to invest in process efficiencies over the long-term.  
Investment in technologyNone.  This remains the responsibility of the employer.Outsourcers will invest in technology in order to enhance efficiency – allowing clients to leverage these resources without having to make substantial investments themselves.  
Pricing structuresTypically a flat day rate only.A variety of pricing structures and incentives can be agreed – including fixed rates, price caps and shared efficiency savings.  
Overall CostHeadline price may be lower but actual cost is likely to be higher (after factoring in recruitment and on-going management costs), particularly for longer-term engagements.   Cost will also depend on market conditions.  If demand is high – costs will increase.  Cost savings are available – particularly in the longer-term.

For some engagements – particularly where the required skill-set and duration of the engagement is known – the temp market is a very good option.  Providing cover for extended absences is a great example.  More generally, perhaps for cultural or organisational reasons, outsourcing may not be the solution for you.  And that’s genuinely OK.  But please don’t compare the service we offer with that of the temp market.  In particular, please don’t equate the headline price paid to a temporary member of staff with the very real (but sometimes hidden) cost to your firm of recruiting, managing and retaining that temporary member of staff.  The nature of the service is very different.  The allocation of risk is very different.  The pricing structures are very different.  It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

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