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Season 2, Episode 6: Statement of Work Explained, with Talent Solutions and Deployed

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In this episode, we ask Kayleigh Kuptz, Co-founder and COO at Deployed, and Sana Ali,  EMEA Service Procurement Manager at Talent Solutions TAPFIN, how Statement of Work (SoW) can help organizations succeed in the post Covid-19 economy. 

Kayleigh sums it up really well by explaining that “the job for life is dead: you don’t hire for people anymore, you hire for services and outcomes and SoW enables that flexibility and agility” needed in today’s world of work – SoW is one of the largest categories of spend for an organization and has increased 21% year-over-year, representing 3 to 6 times the spend of contingent labor. 

This rapid growth is primarily fueled by the rise of the gig workforce, who look to maintain their independence and desire flexible working arrangements while organizations want to shift risk, maintain quality and control costs by moving to outcome-based solutions.

With the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the overnight (and now long term) shift to remote work and the growing urgency for organizations to digitize, never before has organizational agility been tested in such extreme and accelerated circumstances.

Contact us to learn more about Talent Solutions TAPFIN’s SoW management programs.

–Hosts: Roberta Cucchiaro and Dominika Gałusa

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Full Transcript

Roberta Cucchiaro: Hi, and welcome to the sixth episode of the Transform Talent podcast. This is Roberta Cucchiaro.

Dominika Gałusa:…and Dominika Gałusa.

Today we talk about Statement of Work, also known as SOW. SOW is one of the largest categories of spend for an organization and has increased 21%, year over year, representing three to six times the spend of contingent labor. This rapid growth is probably fueled by the rise of the gig workforce, who look to maintain their independence and desire flexible working arrangements, while organizations want to shift risk, maintain quality, and control costs by moving to outcome-based solutions.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the overnight and now long-term shift to remote work and the growing urgency for organizations to digitize, never before has organizational agility been tested in such extreme and accelerated circumstances.

Roberta Cucchiaro: …and looking ahead, the question really is how can SOW help organizations succeed in the post-COVID-19 economy? And we are joined today by Kayleigh Kuptz and Sana Ali to find out.

Kayleigh is co-founder and COO of Deployed. Deployed is a fast-growing Statement of Work authoring platform and also a current Talent Solution partner, transforming the front-end SOW management processes. Kayleigh's startup recently received a $2 million investment from Microsoft Ventures and, in 2020, won the Melinda Gates Female Founders Competition for global SaaS, beating 750 other outstanding female finalists for new productivity tech. And Kayleigh is an Accenture Strategy alumna and knows, more than most, of the importance of good and well-defined scope, and that's why we have you here, Kayleigh. Welcome to the podcast.

Kayleigh Kuptz: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Roberta Cucchiaro: And we're also joined by Sana. Sana recently joined Talent Solutions TAPFIN as the EMEA Services Procurement Manager, brought in as the SOW SME responsible for the strategic direction of the inception, optimization, and delivery of innovative and efficient SOW solutions with EMEA. Sana is an accredited, certified sourcing professional, and with over eight years of industry experience, she brings extensive operational and design knowledge in both SOW and contingent workforce management. Welcome, Sana, as well.

Sana Ali: Thank you. I'm delighted to be here.

Roberta Cucchiaro: Great!

Dominika Gałusa: Great to have you here, both. So let's start with the basics. What is SOW?

Sana Ali: Right, so I guess really it's essentially a document. It's contractual paperwork. And I think there is a bit of a misconception within the industry, and I think some of it is possibly done so by service providers like ourselves, in terms of services procurement. So what is that term? It's almost a nothingness term, but it is essentially what's linked to the service management of statements of works. But an SOW or a statement of work itself is essentially the contractual paperwork that outlines delivery, outlines timelines, milestones, and just essentially the full life cycle of an actual delivery of that particular piece of work.

Dominika Gałusa: So what are the challenges behind it?

Kayleigh Kuptz: I think as the future of work moves to more remote and flexible empowerment of your workforce, so does contractual document that supports it. So I think the biggest challenge with Statements of Work is that HR supply chains need to adapt to the fact that they have to embrace more complexity in how they contract work, specifically with remote staff, with flexible staff, with contingent staff. And as you look at this boring Word document, the risk it holds and the value it holds is actually really significant. Currently, $3 trillion worth of work are transacted by the statement of work every year, and that's growing 16% every year, with now COVID and the pandemic accelerating this growth. So how can we create processes and a knowledge base and use data to make this process of authoring statements of work much more simpler and take complexity out?

Sana Ali: But I think something to point out, to what Kayleigh mentioned, as well, is it's about dedicating time and detail around what that delivery looks like. So we know that SOW engagements, you're expecting to receive a tangible output essentially from that. But from experience, and Kayleigh, I'm sure you'll agree with this as well, from experience, it's very, very common to see the hiring communities and SOW owners and project owners and things like that, they want that tangible output, but they want to put in as limited time and dedication to really drawing those out. But when you're talking about an SOW, as we said, it's a legal, contractual document. It is a contract in itself, so it is so important to make sure that that level of granular detail and those sort of risk accountability and acceptance criteria and all of those fun things that you'd expect to see are clearly outlined.

But it is a big challenge because it's time consuming. You need to have the attention to detail, but when you're looking to use the SOW route as a quick fix, almost, to switch work on and off and have projects that are easy to deploy and have completed in limited amount of time, it's something that tends to slip away sometimes. So I think that probably is getting that balanced right with having enough detail for it to be matched up as a contractual document, but also then have the agility and the flexibility to be able to switch that type of work on and off.

Kayleigh Kuptz: I totally agree. This authoring bit of what the work is and what the scope is to get to those tangible outcomes is super important and often neglected because it is time consuming. We're doing a research project with Loughborough University on consensus finding between the buyer and the supplier of work because if you look at these two personas, me as a buyer and the expert of the problem my organization has, and I'm seeking to hire a supplier, contingent worker on a statement of work, who's the expert of the solution. So these two expert come together, and there's a consensus finding process on defining what the work is, how it's priced, and how it's going to be delivered. And that's the exciting bit about the statement of work, and the bit that's often come through a lot of compromises because it's time consuming, and it's sometimes even political. Yeah, there's a lot of opportunity to automate and use technology and use data to help make that consensus-finding process much easier.

Sana Ali: Well, I think really that, for me, is the biggest challenge of it all is when you strip away and get back to basics and the fundamentals of it, is that essentially what type of work are you, as an organization or even as an industry, sort of standard defining that work to be SOW because then you've got risk of classification. You've got rogue spend. You've got leakage of spend. You've got scope creep that comes into that. And not to sort of throw out these words or terms almost, but it's all relevant, and it all ties in. And as we sort of had at the start, we're looking at sort of almost three to six times more cost that's associated with SOW, compared to your standard sort of contingent workforce. So you can sort of start to understand that with that basic fundamental of misclassification and various other elements as well, the level of exposure that you could have as an organization, the level or risk that can be associated with that, whether it be cost or other elements internally as well, but there's several challenges, I think, to say the least.

Kayleigh Kuptz: There is several challenges. Risk in this buyer to supplier dynamic also depends on the commercial structure you use and the detail of scope you describe it in. We do lots of Statement of Work reviews, for instance, of our clients, and we had one Statement of Work with a big four for £2 million, and it just said scope to be defined throughout the project. The risk very clearly sits with the buyer there, who's spending $2 million. So yeah, if you think of a scale that the right pricing and the right scoping can determine an equal amount of risk, or a fair amount of risk.

Roberta Cucchiaro: You're both experts in the field of SOW management, and I'm really, really curious to hear from you what brought you close to SOW? What really interests you about it?

Sana Ali: I'll go first because I'm sure Kayleigh's experience will be a lot more exciting than mine. But I guess for me it's that attention to detail, and we spoke about needing to put in time and effort and focus on the detail of the actual delivery of each SOW project or SOW requirement essentially. So I think for me it's the need to be meticulous and focus on some of those details and prepare, in order for you to be able to effectively achieve that tangible output that you're after and within the timeframes that are specified as well. So I guess I like those parameters that you put in. I'm an extremely overly organized person, so for me, that is something that's really interesting, and I think being able to focus on some of that and hold either the buyer or the supplier, in both ways, accountable for their actions and for their input.

But I think also, mainly, one of the other key things for me is that collaboration effort. And not to say that any other workforce category is not collaborative, but I think with SOW, that collaboration and that partnership that you have with your suppliers is really, really key here and I think is heightened in this element. And you see it throughout every step of the way, sort of from an inception of a requirement to making sure that it is indeed an SOW, to going through that bid process with your suppliers and really collaborating and partnering with them on what their capabilities are, what their skillsets are. Are you engaging the right suppliers as part of that?

And then you've got the negotiation element as well. There's that huge piece on sort of the commercial review and that commercial element that you need to get right, as well as the delivery as well, but is essentially the end goal and the end result. But there's so many elements of it, and I think it's seen throughout. But I think the key things for me that keep me excited and interest me about this is the level of detail and how meticulous you sort of essentially need to be with the whole process. But it's clear. You get a clear, tangible output. There is accountability there. You know what you are achieving at the end of the timelines. But it's also that collaboration that you have and that partnership that you have with your suppliers and all the parties engaged as well. So not as exciting, I'm sure, as Kayleigh.

Roberta Cucchiaro: And for you, Kayleigh?

Kayleigh Kuptz: Statements of Work has haunted me my entire career, I think it's fair to say. I worked in strategy consulting. And it was an amazing job, and I had an amazing time. But you learn, on the supplier side, you learn all the tricks to get Statements of Work through the door because the time to signature is what matters. Tricks like you salami slice them up into little value Statements of Work, so they go through the green light channel of approval to sign quicker, to inflate at rate cards. There's loads. So I've been on the selling side of Statements of Work for a while, and then I switched into financial services, and I was on the buyer side all of the sudden in a cost management function, reviewing Statements of Work that were incoming.

So I've seen a bit of both, and I've seen the problems on both side because the risk I just mentioned is one example, but there's no mutually fair Statement of Work. It's always more shifted, control is always more shifted to one or the other side, which is, if you think of it as a deal with two players on each side, it should be fair. Risk should be distributed fairly, and often, it's not. So I've seen both sides. Whilst being a consultant at HSBC, met my co-founder, who was my client, who spent his entire career building cost management functions in big banks in the UK, exactly specifying what good statements of work should look like. That's how Deployed came about.

We now help organizations, buyer and supplier side, create robust scopes to choose the right pricing structure for the right types of work. So if you think of time and material being the go-to charging model for service-based work, it should only be used for strategic work, for work where you can't really have a tangible scope or outcome. Quick assessment, strategic advice, that should all be time and material. But the second you go into delivery projects, you deliver towards milestones, those milestones should have the price tag attached to them and not a rate card that's unrelated to the content that's actually being provided in the work.

Yeah, so I think every job I've ever had, I've had to work with Statements of Work on either side, buyer, supplier side. So has my co-founder. And I think this is how Deployed came about because we just want to improve this defining what the work is, pricing it up correctly to cater for both sides, buyer and supplier.

Roberta Cucchiaro: And talking about Deployed, you do have a very impressive background. And as a female founder in the tech industry, I was just curious to also hear from you how does it feel to be a winner of the Melinda Gates Female Founders Competition, and what would you say to other women that want to pursue a career in tech as well?

Kayleigh Kuptz: I would say, "Do it." It's not a walk in the park, especially seeking VC investment. My CEO, Emma, leads a lot of our investment communication. Sadly, the statistics are that less than 1% of VC investment goes towards female founded businesses, which companies like Microsoft and the Melinda Gates Foundation, they're trying to solve. And they're not just talking about it. They actually put money behind it. So we are very proud to have been part of this competition. And obviously, there's big names been flowing around, but it just really helps to just make a statement, put some money behind it from these big companies to say, "We do support female founded businesses."

And I mean, the world is changing. Last week, Bumble had a really successful IPO. Bumble has a board that's over 70% female, and a 31-year-old female CEO. That's amazing. And I think there's more and more companies and successes in the tech industry coming up. So although not easy, I think, yeah, definitely, definitely worth it.

Roberta Cucchiaro: Yeah, do it. That's the best advice.

Kayleigh Kuptz: Do it.

Dominika Gałusa: According to the latest ManpowerGroup's Skills Revolution Reboot Report: The 3 Rs, - Renew, Re-skill, Redeploy, digitization and automation are accelerating as result of the pandemic, creating demand for specific skills. And 40% of them are speeding up digitization. More jobs are being created than being destroyed. 86% of employers that are automating plan to increase or maintain their head count. So what do you think are the tech trends that every organization should watch in 2021?

Kayleigh Kuptz: I think I see really two really big tech trends, especially under the umbrella of remote work and flexible work, one being productivity tools. There's so much out there. There's intuitive, online to-do lists from Notion. There's virtual white boarding software, where you can get teams of 50 people on, and you can still maintain the spirit of a post-it session, physically in the office. Great software's Miro for that. And then there's obviously the rise of collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams. And I think companies should look what fits them and what tools because there's so many out there, and one of them will work and will help to make your remote structure or your remote business more productive. So that's one.

The second trend, no and low-code platforms, that being there's a trend of companies not buying off the shelf, complex software from providers like, say, SAP and where you pay large sums and spend a lot of time on waiting for the provider to customize it to your organization's need. No and low-code platforms are the new trend, where non-technical people can essentially Lego box their software as they need it. It has time savings. It has efficiency savings. There's customization immediately, on the spot, for what you need. Airtable, AppSheet, Salesforce are good examples of those. I think that that's going to be a huge rise, going forward, to just also empower organizations to build their bespoke solutions much faster and without the need of extensive coding and messing in those capabilities.

Sana Ali: And I think, ultimately, really what we've definitely seen with the pandemic and various other economic factors that we're seeing today, the technology and the need for digitization and automation has accelerated, accelerated far more quickly than it probably would have ever been anticipated. So essentially, people want to ultimately remove the waste and increase their productivity and efficiency, so I think, like Kayleigh's mentioned, a lot of productivity tools, I think, and particularly when you add in that sort of remote working and that sort of location strategy that a lot of organizations are now looking into, it's definitely going to be one of the bigger focuses. And as I said, it's certainly something that's been accelerated. Probably instead of being on the 10 year map, it's now probably in the two year map or even year map, road map. So there's so much out there, but I think it's really bringing it back to what's current today and how the new world and the new future of work is going to look like, which is essentially digital and very much agile.

Dominika Gałusa: So where does the SOW fit when we talk about digitization and automation? And how much of the process can be automated?

Kayleigh Kuptz: SOW in its current state is a word document that's exchanged by email up to 42 times. There's different versions flying around. There's not a single source of the truth. If you calculate manpower plants in the spreadsheet and you copy them into that word document. Legal does a review. At the same time, you've already sent that version that you sent to legal because they need two weeks. You've already sent that back to the suppliers. When the legal version comes back, the one you have is already outdated.

So there's a lot of manual labor and a lot of inefficiencies in just authoring the same of work, which leaves a lot of room to automate. If you think about the components of the Statement of Work, there's a start date entered as a supply and you always ask the same questions that can all be automated. You can integrate your preferred supplier list. You can integrate a decision tree for the right pricing models. If it's this type of work, it's this pricing structure. You can work with legal and automate a clause database and certain validations as to when what clauses is triggered, which saves legal a lot of time having to revenue it after.

Just in its initial authoring of the work, there's so much potential to automate. Then once Statement of Work is written, what follows after is that in the current process, this manual Word document dies in a desk drawer somewhere or at best, it's uploaded into SAP Reba, but nothing's really happening with it other than rekeying the information. For the supplier to erase invoices, you have to open it, copy and paste it into a Reba. There's so much rekeying the manual labor and then nothing's done with it, which if you just have one digital record of the same work and every data point means something, you can do lots of reporting. It's transparency to the management on what work is actually being performed at the moment, which price models do you always use, how much work is running over budget, how many change requests do you have. All of those you can just very easily read out of digital statements of work, not so easily out of paper printed statements of work that sit somewhere in a desk drawer. So the statement of work is not disrupted. It has so much value in it, and there's so, so much potential to digitalize it and make everyone's life easier.

Roberta Cucchiaro: In the past few months, we also have seen the biggest work flow shift and relocation of skills in years, since World War II actually. And as organizations transform and digitize at speed and scale, skills needs are transforming too. So by 2025, we are expecting humans and machines to split work-related tasks, 50/50, while 97 million new jobs emerging in AI, the green economy, and care economy. So the question really is around the fact that employers need to think long-term when it comes to their entire workforce.

So how can SOW help companies develop a work force that can sustain unexpected shifts? And organizations that had to shift production overnight, when COVID-19 hit, for example, come to mind. So what is the key to organizational agility, and how can SOW help?

Sana Ali: So I think one of the beauties of sort of engaging SOW arrangements and going through that particular channel, I think it's that flexibility, and it's the ability for you to be able to sort of quickly switch work on and off. And yes, absolutely, SOW arrangements as the SOW work is particularly associated with sort of outcome-based work. It's clear to see what your end result is. But I think it's also that speed that you can essentially, once you're at that stage, you've got an SOW contract fully signed, and you've got that delivery agreed, it's quite easy to be able to deploy that work and switch it on and off. And I think that certainly works in line with that sort of being flexible and agile as well.

It helps you maintain and be able to leverage skillsets that maybe your workforce, overall, is lacking or just needs a little bit of help. But I think, really, one of the focus points is gone are your days where you're sort of focusing on one individual to deliver work. And you've got organizations that have hundreds and thousands and so many employees. You're not reliant on one individual body or their sort of particular, individual skill sets. It's now the age of sort of teamwork, collaboration, taking advantage of skills that are appropriate and leveraging skills that you may not have. So I think the key thing to building a sustainable work force and how SOW comes into that is that, if you've got that foundation of you re-skilled, and you've a workforce that you are comfortable with as that sort of fundamental of your employee base, SOWs can help come in and leverage some of that and really sort of bring things together.

Kayleigh Kuptz: I can echo what you said Sana. I like how you phrased it, switching work on and off can easily be done with Statements of Work. The job for life is dead. You don't hire for people anymore. You hire for services and outcomes, and the Statement of Work enable that flexibility and that agility. I need XYZ done is the statement, and then you look who can do that. You don't look for I want that person with that skill, but I'm not sure what they will do. It's the other way around. It's shift from permanent staff job descriptions to flexible, service-based, output-based work.

Sana Ali: So SOW essentially helps you bring that gap.

Dominika Gałusa: This makes me think of the importance to provide insight and guidance to hiring communities, intersecting the optimum buying channel for their required work, thus avoiding misclassification and shifting risk, cutting costs and ultimately driving value.

How can the organization know whether their supply base is fit for purpose? What should they look out for and ultimately achieve efficiency optimization? As we look ahead, what does the new supply chain look like?

Sana Ali: In a nutshell, I think when you're looking at supply base and the efficiency and how you can optimize it, I think now more so than ever, with the new future of work that we're looking at, you need to have a supply base that's agile and flexible. We've talked about switching work on and off. We've talked about bridging gaps. And we've talked about sort of new economic shifts, new shifts in trends and things. You're so reliant, as a buyer, on your supply base, and if it's not fit for purpose, excuse me, if it's not agile, if it's not flexible, everything else pretty much falls apart. You might have the best vision and best strategies in place, but particularly when it comes to SOWs, you are buying a service, essentially, an outcome-based service, and you are reliant on the supplier to deliver the work and give you that efficient productivity that you were asking for and that you need. And if they're not flexible, if they're not agile, then it all falls apart.

Kayleigh Kuptz: And to add one thing to that, suppliers or supplier base, even supplier chain processes, they're reactive to the demand. And the demand chain, the demand processes, how demand is phrased, how it's narrated, how it's prioritized, that's radically changing. So the supplier base and what they offer and how they're structured is in reaction to that demand. So I think organizations, rather than starting with transforming their supplier base, should look at how they define demand and communicate demand to their suppliers because if they can define what they want, and they can really communicate their problems, their supplier base will react to that positively. I think you have to start with what do you actually need? What needs to be done? What's the demand for the business?

Sana Ali: Yeah. Absolutely. But I think cost also then comes into that as well, and we know that cost is always a driver for many different aspects for all organizations, regardless of whether you're on a buyer side or on the receiving end. And there were some interesting stats that I read recently is that, pre-COVID, organizations were focused sort of cost reduction strategies, that 33%, post-COVID, that's now pretty much doubled to 66%. So you've got a lot of organizations that are hugely focused on what are cost strategies? Can you cut costs? Where can you cut costs? And SOW is usually always one of those conversations that's directly linked to cost and, for me, a supply base because absolutely, Kayleigh, as you've mentioned, your supply base is agile and fit for purpose, based on the demand and how effectively you communicate that demand to your suppliers.

But then also there's that costing as well, and I think you need that level of competition. If you, as a buyer, are limited to the spend that you can associate, to what know, SOW being sort of a high ticket category or channel to engage, we know that the costs and the spend that's associated is considerably more compared to different channels of work and channels of buying. It's about that competition I think, as well, and sort of making sure that you are communicating whether you've strategies. Are the suppliers going to be able to match up to that? Because it is, again, as we've mentioned, it's that collaborative effort. It's that partnership that you're looking to build with your supply base. You need it to work for you at the end of the day, and I think absolutely you need to be able to effectively communicate some of those demands. You need to be able to communicate what your needs are. But I think, for me, it all ultimately ties back, to a certain degree, to costing as well.

Roberta Cucchiaro: So growing acceptance of remote work will remake how organizations are thinking about the work force. And we're talking more and more about talent communities, about un-tethering talent from location to hybrid models, and remote work is creating an opportunity for employers to tap skills beyond borders and talent in the cloud. So acceptance of outcome-based remote work is increasing, and spend and costs are the key decision factors as well.

So what does this shift to remote working really mean for organizations, and how easy is it to create a fully remote work force, in your opinion?

Kayleigh Kuptz: Short answer, it's not easy. I think there's no one size fits all model at this stage, or there'll probably never be. I think the best you can do as an organization is to talk to your teams, talk to everyone, see what works. Now, everyone's forced to work from home or at least forced to work on a hybrid model. Talk to your team and understand what works and what doesn't work, what they need done differently that can be improved. Teams having to get creative, there's so much technology out there, and we named a few productivity tools earlier. There's so many methodologies and ideas floating around because COVID has accelerated this probably three times faster than it normally would have happened, even more maybe. So there's so much out there. I think companies or leadership and management teams need to get creative, look what's out there, and then just try. Try, fail, iterate, and do that and communicate with your teams and see what works and what doesn't.

Sana Ali: If you're looking at it from an SOW lens, I would say, slightly conflicting, but I would say it's relatively easy because the way that SOWs can be delivered and the way that the arrangements are set up are set up so that you could, for instance, have somebody sat on a beach in Bali, doing the work that they need to. And it's still going to fit the criteria, it's still going to fit all the rules and regulations that are defined as part of that SOW document, and there's no issues. So I think it depends which side that you're looking at it. I think holistically it's incredibly difficult. You're changing mindsets. You're looking at logistics of things. It's something that can take a lot of organizations years to perfect when it comes to that location strategy and making sure that their workforce and their workplace is really remote, but from a granular, SOW lens, I would say it's incredibly easy because that's the nature of the work.

Kayleigh Kuptz: You think about the consulting industry, that's a whole change to their business model. When I was a strategy consultant, the consultant's there before the client, and you're the last one to leave as well. The whole ethos, you have documents on your desk. You're not allowed to take them out of your client's building. There's so much in this traditional prestige consulting model industry that actually defines their whole industry, and that's all gone. Everyone sits at home now, so a whole chunk of their business model needs to change now, and they're forced to change, which will be super interesting to watch in how they solve that problem.

And if you link that back to Statements of Work, now in the pandemic, consultants that maybe used to be on the time and material contract, being at the client's side five days a week with a vague scope, they picked up problems along the side and hallway conversations. And although they may have been scope creep, they were still delivering value for the clients because it was on a vague scope time and material contract, but for 18 hours a day, they were working for that client because they picked up things on the side all the time. They can't do that now. Does that mean they have to shift to outcomes-based and clearly defined scopes because they can't pick up things on the side anymore, because they don't have hallway conversations with their clients or lunches with their clients anymore? Is that a shift from an entire commercial structure for consultants now, from T&M to outcomes based, as an assumption? I'm very, very interested to see the dynamics in that industry and how the pandemic will change them.

Sana Ali: Yeah. Absolutely agree.

Roberta Cucchiaro: So looking ahead and with keeping in mind organizations such ... Actually, Salesforce just, I think was last week, that announced that they were going to have a remote workforce for the foreseeable future. So having these organizations in mind that want to go fully remote or even, like you were saying, Sana, have really happy employees working from a nice beach in Bali, so if you wanted to have that kind of model, what's the perfect check list to follow? And I would love to get three examples from Sana and three from Kayleigh.

Sana Ali: I think the first thing, for me, would probably be re-skilling your workforce essentially. So I think there is a level of process that needs to go into it beforehand, so you need to sort of understand are you happy with the level of efficiency and productivity that can be provided? Because that's essentially the output, right? You want to maintain, if not heighten, the level of efficiency and productivity if you're moving towards a remote workforce. So re-skill and reevaluate what your workforce looks like. You want to take time to really understand remits of work and really define what outputs there are for you, what your vision is essentially. But with that being said, you also want to still have your workforce and people feel a sense of control in their abilities as well. You want them to almost feel empowered. So that, I think, would be the first thing, and it's going back to basics I think, again, as part of that sort of logistical piece and changing mindsets and changing behaviors that have been ingrained for as long as most people can remember.

And then I think secondly, for me, would also be automation. So you want to probably try and remove wastage, eliminate any unnecessary tasks or duplications as part of that, as well. And then I think, thirdly, I would probably say communication or effective communication, strategic and effective communication, rather, and collaboration as well. If you're looking at that remote workforce, you need to still be able to ensure that your workforce, all parties involved, are able to effectively communicate. If that communication halts or stops, that collaboration stops, then everything essentially falls apart. You might have people sort of based left, right, and center, here, there, and everywhere, but if you're not talking to one another, they're all very separate and segregated. Nothing comes together. So I think to bring that sort of holistic piece together, that really is, I think, really, really crucial to make sure that you're maintaining that aspect as well.

Kayleigh Kuptz: My top three checklist will be no more micromanagement, define clear outcomes and empower your team, agility and sprint methodology, let's learn from the successes of agile development work and how we can apply it in other remotes, and thirdly, to my point earlier, invest the time and think outside of the box as to what productivity tools, collaboration tools, and technology is the right fit for your company. And I say outside of the box because those productivity tools should increase productivity and not just replicate what you would normally do in a physical space because if you did that, that would mean you're on calls for all hours of the day. So there's an element of thinking outside of the box to change behavior and do things a bit differently.

Roberta Cucchiaro: Well, it makes me feel super ready to attack 2021.

Dominika Gałusa: The impact of COVID-19, an increase in unemployment rates, increased need for short-term temp employment, and increased interest in alternate engagement models and an overall unpredictable market environment is causing organizations to expedite digital transformation for flexible and forward-thinking talent acquisition sourcing strategies that capture opportunity and compete. At the moment, it is difficult for organizations to track their spend per worker and enforce processes effectively, and there is a limited data available for reporting on cost savings. And I think, thanks to this interesting conversation with Kayleigh and Sana, the answer to those problems is statement of work, which drives governance, visibility, strategy, alignment, and delivers cost efficiencies.

Roberta Cucchiaro: And I would say also shifts risk because managing unexpected shifts like we've seen recently is so important now, and receiving the right guidance and insight in selecting the optimum buying channels is vital for risk mitigation. So it's been really interesting to understand what goes behind the scene in organizations and learn from you a lot and, like I said before, really be ready for whatever comes our way in this year. So before I let you go, I have a last question, and if you heard the other episodes, you know what's coming. If you were stranded on a desert island, and you could only have three things, what would you have with you?

Kayleigh Kuptz: Oh, I'm so bad with questions like this.

Sana Ali: This is a tough one. One thing that I can instantly say is lip balm or some form of moisturizer. Completely un-work-related and non-professional, but yeah, I'm a big fan of moisturized skin and lips in particular.

Roberta Cucchiaro: So that's one. You can bring two more.

Sana Ali: A good book, I think, one that you could probably read again and again, and you can possibly use the papers to create fires or whatnot. So it could be a dual item.

Dominika Gałusa: You can burn the book as well.

Sana Ali: Exactly.

Sana Ali: Once you're done with it, once you've read it for 100 times, then yeah. I'm going to move over to Kayleigh to give some ideas for inspiration, and then I'll come out with my third one.

Kayleigh Kuptz: Thank you. I would take a solar panel because I think I'd find it really hard to live in a world without technology or electricity. Bring a solar panel. I'd bring a hammock.

Roberta Cucchiaro: Nice one.

Sana Ali:…yeah.

Kayleigh Kuptz: Which would be good for relaxing but also maybe shelter from the sun.

Roberta Cucchiaro: And it can be also a good fishing net.

Sana Ali: Yeah.

Kayleigh Kuptz: Exactly, yeah. Multi-purpose hammock. And I would bring, the good German that I am, I would bring a Swiss army knife.

Roberta Cucchiaro: Oh, yeah. Very useful.

Sana Ali: I'll probably steal your third one, there, as well. I think that's a good tool to have.

Roberta Cucchiaro: That's wonderful. We are asking this question to everyone that comes on our podcast, and it would be nice to ... a compilation at the end, see what are the best ideas. So thank you so much for joining us today on our sixth episode of the Transform Talent podcast. We hope you enjoyed it and learned something new. And to all our listeners, don't forget to subscribe in your favorite podcast listening app and leave us a review. Our next episode will be on women in the workplace, to honor the tireless and inspiring women all around us. So stay tuned and see you at the next episode. Bye!

All: Bye!