Posted on Wednesday 25 January 2017 by Ulster Business
What happens when a multinational faces a deluge of claims from irate consumers; or where the regulator tells a global bank to initiate an immediate review of customer data in 20 countries?
Until a couple of years ago, there was no clear answer. Some companies seconded permanent employees, others recruited contractors or promised unlimited overtime to in-house staff and, for many, stifling growth became the price of delivering compliance. Even the auditors to the biggest multinationals couldn’t provide the staff or the skills that were increasingly being demanded.
However, if you could harness the convergence of a capable and mobile workforce and synchronise this to the real-time demands of global business, that solution might look a lot like PwC Augment.
PwC Augment is a business unit that sits within PwC Northern Ireland to provide high quality resources to work on operational and execution roles in clients across the UK, Ireland and beyond.
If it was a new business, PwC Augment would be one of Northern Ireland’s fastest-growing; and, measured by destination of sales, it would probably also qualify as one of our fastest-growing exporters. The real secret of PwC Augment is that it is transforming the way global organisations manage and deploy their labour.
We call it PwC Augment.
From a standing start just two years ago, PwC Augment now has over 200 staff, based in Belfast, responding to resource hungry organisations worldwide - organisations struggling to feed an inexorable demand for resources to support compliance activities, and companies striving to deliver diversification and internationalisation. All these demand highly skilled resources with expertise in finance, regulation and technology and that’s why PwC Augment will continue to grow with a further 100 recruits expected in the next year.
The key to the PwC Augment model is that PwC Augment staff are employed, trained and resourced by PwC, but they typically work under the supervision of the client’s management team. PwC Augment staff can be based on the client site(s), can deliver outcomes remotely from PwC’s nearshore location in Belfast, or a combination of both.
PwC Augment often provides agile “surge resourcing” to deliver activities by a given deadline.
One common request is helping global banks with remediation activities like clearing a backlog of compliance cases by a target date, sometimes at the request of a regulator, or providing resources to support non business as usual activities such as transformation or divestiture programmes.
PwC Augment provides a distinctive offering of high quality and cost effective resourcing as an alternative to clients engaging groups of contractors.
PwC Augment has worked on range of engagements for many leading Banking and Energy clients across the UK, Ireland and globally.
The rise of the contingent workforce
The rapid growth of PwC Augment and the ease of acceptance of the staff augmentation model globally, says much about the change in workforce strategy. Until recently, the only way of acquiring skills was to employ people, and the only major distinction between employees was full time vs part time. However as market conditions have become more dynamic, organisations face the need to be more flexible to respond as conditions quickly change, and look for other ways to secure access to talent that is otherwise difficult to source.
According to a 2015 report from supply specialist Ardent Partners, freelancers and independent contractors already make up about 32% of the US workforce and that number is expected to keep rising. Adding to the conundrum, an expert from the London Business School, speaking at the 2016 World Business Forum in Sydney, predicted that nine out of ten of people’s full-time colleagues may be gone in the next ten years. At the same time, businesses are resource hungry, with 72% of respondents to PwC’s 19th annual CEO Survey concerned about the availability of key skills, with 48% planning to hire in the next year.
So, as organisations seek to adopt an on-demand approach to resourcing in order to lower costs, expand market coverage, increase revenues and shorten response times, the potential of the contingent workforce has facilitated the emergence of PwC Augment.
PwC’s success in developing and deploying PwC Augment clearly demonstrates that the rise of contingent labour is turning the old employer-employee relationship on its head and we are still only at the early stages of wholesale adoption of the model - but that will come and it will come fast. New players and niche specialists are emerging, while new technology is being developed to address workforce management and productivity, while traditional roles in human capital management are being redefined.
Our clients tell us they are enthusiastic users of PwC Augment and that they’re excited by the possibilities of contingent labour. However given the scale of operational change required, many are also looking for support in designing and deploying a successful blended workforce strategy.
That’s why PwC has developed solutions to contingent labour challenges, both to accelerate the potential of PwC Augment and to provide clients with the tools to maximise the new opportunities of contingent labour.
Contingent labour and the flexible workforce are driving up competitiveness amongst some of the world’s leading organisations, but what’s global today, will become local tomorrow.
Brian can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org