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Whether you’re in the process of identifying or implementing a vendor management solution (VMS), taking a best practices approach to contingent workforce management can help organizations better manage their temporary, consultative and professional services workforce.
Partnering with a vendor that understands your business goals, company culture and what you’re trying to achieve is as important as having the right technology in place to measure and optimize results.
Show support from executive leadership – Communicate to vendors that executive leadership is driving the program and where it fits into business goals. Define the scope of implementation to create shared understanding – Whether you’re proceeding with a phased approach or taking an accelerated path to implementation, make sure the vendor community knows your intent. Make it known that compliance is not optional – Communicate that the program is mandatory and that all vendors must comply. Discuss measurable program objectives – Share with vendors the strategic optimization quality improvements you’re looking for, such as how you plan to achieve risk mitigation or what your objective is from a cost containment or rationalization perspective. Standardize contracts by primary service segment – Terms and conditions will differ between an administrative and technical provider.
Determine a clear pricing strategy – Decide if the pricing strategy will be based on a set mark-up or geographic rate card.
Institute consistent funding and vendor payment terms – Whether you choose to fund your program as a percentage of spend, share the burden with the vendor community or fully fund the program, be consistent.
Get a rate commitment from vendors– If you don’t define terms upfront, you may experience vendors stating they misunderstood the engagement or have another reason they need to raise your rate. Put performance guarantees in place – If a one week performance guarantee is built into the contract, be sure to also define what happens when it doesn’t work out. Establish an NPC – A National Primary Contract centralizes control and eliminates finger-pointing or work requirements “falling through the cracks”. The contingent workforce’s role in many enterprises has evolved significantly in recent years, with subcontractors, specialty firms and just-in-time solutions for both commoditized and highly skilled labor playing a larger role in day-to-day enterprise activities.
The opinions expressed by guest authors do not necessarily reflect the positions of Staffing Industry Analysts.
To be a successful project manager in a software development environment, one must know more than the “best practices” for managing a project. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges in project management, as it applies to software development, is choosing the development method  (assuming the upper management or client will let the project manager make that decision) from a wide array of choices. I’m going to assume here that there would be no need for a project manager if there were no project, therefore, a software need has already been identified and it is now time to plan everything. Many of these 7 factors can be analyzed and tentatively decided upon before a team is even assembled, however, it should be a continual analysis during the course of the entire project.
With larger companies that have a pool of talent, a team should not be assembled until the initial scope of the project is analyzed and the first ideas as to what type of development method have been assumed. The most important factor in a projects’ success is the quality of the people on the project and how well they work together.
A projects first stage shouldn’t deal with product design, but rather with designing the development process itself. It is important that the PM learn the patterns and attributes associated with many of the most popular development methods to be able to function within them, change them, and successfully support and explain to stakeholders why they are being used on a project.
Properly identifying the requirements of a project is the first challenge in mastering project management and planning a project. Requirements analysis can initially be overviewed by just the PM, but continues with the entire team working together. The client is just as important as the software requirements when it comes to selecting the right software development method. The PM must also figure out what the users and customers of a software effort want the system to do to properly identify the requirements.
Mastering project management also depends on being able to master your project management plan. Using teams that are smaller than traditional teams where team members are selected based on the skills required for the project. Including customers throughout the project and meeting on a daily basis for a short period of time in contrast to traditional weekly meetings. Though a master project manager will have a variety of strategies for different development methods, just like a website, it is better to be dynamic than static to allow for changes as they arise. Anxiety – Reduce anxiety by identifying the communication styles your team prefers and utilizing this knowledge.
Keeping a project under control relies heavily on good communication, especially when in an iterative environment there are rapidly changing variables. Whether or not you use a waterfall approach, you still do the activities of analysis, design, coding and testing, and you need a team that supports all of these activities. This rhythm and energy that a PM has worked so hard to build can also be crushed if the right team is not in place and managed properly.
Both iterative and waterfall methods have their place and can be effective in different project contexts, depending on how much uncertainty exists and how much flexibility a team requires. A good way to remove yourself from the mindset that you know whats best is to keep a detailed log of what works best in each project. Tracking results from elements of different development methods and how they were used in problem solving can be invaluable to the future success of software projects. For the development team in an iterative environment it is better to build something and then document it rather than document something and then build it. Reuse is a common term to developers, but this can also be a term associated with project management when paired with the idea of learning from other projects, teams etc. In general, minimal empirical evidence exists to support the advantages of any one model over any other regarding cost, duration or quality.
Whether a project begins as waterfall and ends as iterative, stays the same, or wanders through many development models, there is no “best practice” for project management that can be applied. Creating some static control in an ever changing business environment to help assure successful projects. To properly implement an agile method, which is different in every project, careful planning and decision making must be a precursor to the development.
This article discusses choosing a development process, stucturing global design chains, managing the interaction of project structure and software design, and balancing innovation and efficiency. Identifies the continuing challenges in software engineering since the late 1960’s and analyzes “best” practices. The effectiveness of using project management tools and techniques for delivering projects. Using diagrams and patterns to provide a project vision while suggesting proper agile development methods and blocking.
How two project managers skeptically changed to using scrum and xp agile methods with their teams and completed more successful software development projects.
An analysis of different decisions project managers are required to make regarding the software development approaches to their project. An analysis of scrum, a popular iterative development technique, and how to improve project management within this model. Differences in agile & waterfall processes are evident in this study of a development team as it was changed from one to the other. Global Software Development Patterns (GSD) and their use in development within agile and waterfall development methods. This includes implementing technology and communicating expectations on how vendors should work with the technology and operational processes to meet your business objectives.

Whether that’s cost control, mitigating risk or achieving compliance, improving operational efficiencies can help organizations leverage the contingent and services procurement workforce as a strategic component of the overall human capital management strategy and allows organizations to better manage spend, compliance, risk and efficiency. This boosts adoption and engagement because vendors understand the organization’s commitment to the program. If you don’t communicate that it’s a mandated program, some vendors will perceive it as optional, making it harder to get to a steady-state.
By setting expectations at the forefront, you’ll eliminate back channel conversations, rogue spending and work-around processes. As you work with vendors, have some basic agreements that ask them to execute based on the segment of business. Geographic-based rate cards are the best way to measure competitive pricing strategy, but mark-ups are sometimes necessary if you don’t have data or full visibility into rates. Information gets shared between vendors and not having consistency can create additional challenges. Put a stake in the ground and enforce that vendors live with the rates they committed to at the time of engagement. This is especially helpful when working with a vendor organization that has multiple branches. Effectively managing this growing number of workers – who have many advantages from a management standpoint but also unique challenges and reporting needs – requires an in-depth and consistent approach. We liaise with our clients at every point of the process through a dedicated project manager. In software, it is often not known what the final product is going to be at the inception, nor is it known the path that will be taken to create the final product. Lets take a look at mastering the art of project management in any development environment, focusing on the differences and challenges of the high-level categories of iterative or waterfall development processes, rather than breaking it down into each method. The planning & requirements phase of a SDLC is perhaps the most varied cycle depending on the chosen development method.
Before development begins, and after the team has been assembled, the official decision making can begin.
Two main positions exist in software development: classic plan driven development and more contemporary iterative software development.
These requirements are the key to deciding on the right development method, and a good understanding of all models is integral in continually making intelligent management decisions. Many times this entails brainstorming and modeling sessions using tools such as the UML (Unified Modeling Language) to map out the plan for the software project. A client who wants to take a back seat in the process will probably feel more comfortable with a plan-based approach to development. If less is known of the requirements, an Iterative method – a much more customer-driven approach – has a better chance at success because of the ability to innovate as the life cycle develops.
A tall order when a flexible plan is required to properly manage a dynamic development environment. Any one of the above items can, and should, be adjusted if the project success is being threatened. It may be in a big gathering of the minds at the start of a project in true waterfall fashion, or it may come in iterations.
The PM needs to begin the project by facilitating a rhythm that they will carry through the entire life cycle of the project. An important factor that should constantly be reviewed in any project is how many people are involved.
Definitely a scary statistic which can be mostly mitigated by the management of a PM and a properly selected team.
Allowing a project to move around between an iterative and waterfall structure is essentially balancing flexibility with reliability. Documentation is king when learning from the past and is an important part of a PM’s repertoire.
Creativity can help identify next moves, optimism can recognize paths that have potential, and the brutal honestly can quickly halt a failing project. Requirements and clients should be the dictators of the development environment, and the environment in which a project is conducted directly affects the amount of dynamism required. It is the responsibility of the PM to stay adaptive so that each project has the best chance for success, in the shortest time, with the least cost and the most satisfied stakeholders. If you do proceed with mark-ups, reserve the right to implement geographic rate cards at some point in the future.
Likewise, when establishing insurance obligations, make sure everyone has the same requirement. A single point of contact increases accountability and puts the onus on the NPC to manage their organization.
It is a project managers responsibility to recognize how much can be predicted, how much will be created along the way, the process that will be used to create the product, and how to successfully communicate all of this to the stakeholder – an end user, a purchaser, a contractor, a developer, or a project manager – while keeping time and budget constraints in check. The most suitable process for a software project should be discovered during the initial requirements phase, not before, when a team can tailor the framework to best fit the project needs. Choosing the right team can facilitate progress and release the temptation to micro-manage.
One of the most well known methods in plan-driven software development is the waterfall model, where each phase of the project is planned in advance and there are clearly delineated interfaces between phases often called “gates”. This plan can also serve as a great identifier of the development process that should be used. Iterative development methods require heavy client involvement on a regular basis and end up failing if this involvement is not achieved or sustained.
Innovation starts with requirements, and elaboration should include diverse perspectives and skills including the end customer, developers and testers. Not only should there be an SLC (System Life Cycle) chosen for the development, but there should also be a supporting PLC (Project Life Cycle) in place for the management of the project.
However this happens, it is important the the PM constantly keeps up communication with all stakeholders. This rhythm is essentially the flow of good communication as mentioned above, keeping anxiety down and morale high.
The size of a project team can depend on the number of requirements and how large the project scope is.
Many times the PM is a previous developer who has moved up in the company, but it is important to know that the primary task of the manager is to have the right people do the correct work and, ultimately, to get the tasks done in the most efficient and least problematic way. There is a danger in dynamic environments where allowances for change in a project can send the project out of control.
A well organized resource for learning from past decisions is the key to making future intelligent decisions. Though waterfall suggests planning and documenting the entire product at the beginning, there is still a chance that it may live in a gravity-free environment or may move over to an agile process. Without good documentation it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to learn from your mistakes. These tools are the ability to plan, select a team, make tough decisions, and keep documentation to learn from. The project manager should then tailor their management approach to the project type, and it should be the PM that assigned the type based on the experience they have and the documentation from previous adaptive projects. Applying UML and patterns :An introduction to object- oriented analysis and design and the unified process.

What To Do When Your IT Project Is Late, Over Budget, and Looks Like It’s Never Going To Work. One important factor that is taken into consideration is that a master project manager has more control over the development environment than the other way around. It is important for the PM to create a self-driven team, rather than relying on command and control. The more agile iterative development methods kick in when not all of the solution is clearly known. Consistent with the model above, if the system has most of the requirements known at the start, it is much easier to take a waterfall based approach, which endures because of the desire for predictability in software development. Many customers now are specifically asking for iterative methods in their software projects because of their adversity to surprises (often arising with the low communication and lack of iterations in the waterfall method). A project manager should have a general plan laid out that they generally follow, as well as common tools that they use, but there is no one “best practice” that fits all projects & situations.
The PM must also understand that communication consists not only of speaking, but is also written and body language.
A PM with a good PLC in place, a strong understanding of requirements and development cycles, and good organization can manage without missing a beat, infecting the entire project team with an unbelievable energy. For larger teams there is a greater need for more efficient communication and co-ordination. These tasks should be allocated as people become free, rather than on the basis of expertise, which reinforces the development of silos and indispensable “heroes”.
Mastering project management depends on mastering your project management plan, which does not include solving code problems.
This may be the point where a PM may call for a requirements freeze, kill the project entirely, or just revert back to a more waterfall approach for a period of time. There are many types of documentation in a project including documentation for: the team, the management, the client, the PM, or simply to generate ideas. A client may request a requirements or functionality change, negating the relevance of previously created documentation which could throw some wrenches into your team morale and overall cost.
A continual analysis of things that are working, things that are not working, and changes that you have made can provide the basis for a solid decision making library. In todays software development environment, perhaps the most important tool, is how to cater the development method to the overall environment.
In software development events tend to arise at faster rates than is practical to re-plan for. As humans, it is easy to get comfortable in our ways, and it is important that a project manager be adaptive to accommodate any project environment. A common practice suggested for iterative development, but that also should be recognized in waterfall methods, is choosing teams that are selected based on the skills required for the project. What’s needed is not a single software methodology, however, but a rich toolkit of process patterns and “methodology components” (deliverables, techniques, process flows, and so forth) along with guidelines for how to plug them together to customize a methodology for any given project. Predictability promises less deviation from a solid plan and helps with recognizing costs and duration, and is good for keeping happy stakeholders. Unfortunately, it is also common that if a PM cannot keep the client involved, the project tends to revert back to “management by plan” which, in turn, severely limits agility resulting in more of a waterfall mode. Managers must select a combination of practices and integrate them into a coherent process that’s aligned to their business context. Before you lose morale and energy with a larger team, increased control of the project can be gained by the PM by continually assessing time estimates through communication with the developers. Rapid changes in the environment, including tools and methods, and attempts to innovate, act to push the project into an iterative model, increasing unknowns.
Traditional management is simply counterproductive; it crates self-inflicted problems that seriously undermine performance.
A strong project manager will understand that rules are meant to be broken and tailor the style to meet the project needs. The PM approach should be tailored to the project type, however, the PM should also assign the type based on the project requirements. An idea of the general properties of the two development methods is displayed in the table below. Customer involvement greatly dictates the development method that will be most successful for any project, and a good project manager stays alert to this. A truly adaptive PM also understands that just like requirements, team members can also be changed at any time.
In the book The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey, it is suggested that the manager train the employees (in this case the developers) to bring at least two suggested solutions to any mention of a problem, practicing “hands-off management”. The challenge is to conduct exploration at a greater rate than the emergence of environmental change, keeping requirements relevant. This is not the case with management documentation and it would be good to find an understanding of what documentation should be kept for statistical analysis by the PM. Call the method what you will, but in the end the right development process is the one that delivers a successful product through a hybrid approach.
It is not fair to any project that a PM use their bias to assign a project type only because they are more comfortable in that environment, when doing so could jeopardize the projects success.
For smaller companies that may only have enough employees for one or two teams, the luxury of choosing members by skill set and availability might not exist. It may be safer to try and steer the stakeholders towards a planned yet flexible process to allow for any change.
The customer and the PM are both decision makers in a project with the customer knowing the business, and the PM knowing the technical aspects, however, the end decision should be made by the PM. The best way to develop responsibility in people is to give them responsibility, and the best use of your time is doing your own work, not the work of everyone else. Change in requirements can be counterproductive to the success of the overall project and should be carefully scrutinized. This is where the importance of understanding multiple project methods and experience can prove to be a huge asset.
In that case it is especially important for the PM to develop a strong plan to deal with adversity. Predictability is an illusion and cannot exist within today’s changing technology and market conditions, and companies and clients need to face the reality of constant change. As long as expectations are properly documented and consistently met, the client will trust the PM and the decisions they make.
Project managers can make more effective decisions when supported by the right tools and techniques for leading a project, and using those tools and techniques in the right way will have direct impact on the delivery of a successful project. That being said, we are still human and one PM will be more suited to a certain method than another.
Customer involvement must always be monitored as a more customer-centric iterative process has a greater frequency of failure if the customer wants to be on the sidelines.

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