Annrai O’Toole (extreme)

As organizations prepare for the hybrid work patterns of the vaccine economy, they also grapple with the continued growth of contingent work. Up to half of the workforce in a typical business isn’t on the payroll today – they’re freelancers, contractors, temporary workers, and gig workers. Tracking and managing this expanded workforce is the mission of Utmost, who last week unveiled a $ 21 million risk financing round and increased total funding to $ 33 million. Last year’s disruption has accelerated the need for its resolution, says CEO Annrai O’Toole, who notes:

Gone is the notion that your workforce is just employees. It’s been over for a while.

Traditionally, the number of employees was managed using the VMS software (Vendor Management System). However, this type of offering has mainly focused on agency staffing and is not integrated with corporate HCM systems. Utmost, which calls itself the Extended Workforce System (EWS), has a much larger area of ​​responsibility. O’Toole explains:

We’re trying to build something that is holistic for both HR and Sourcing, and holistically designed to capture all of your extended employees, not just recruitment agencies.

First, Utmost would like to make this available to Workday customers. O’Toole and another co-founder, Dan Beck, were both Workday executives before co-founding Utmost with Paddy Benson, former VP of Engineering at Groupon and O’Toole’s colleague at a previous company. Workday Ventures was an early investor along with Greylock Ventures, which now includes new investors, Mosaic Ventures, Acadian Ventures and Alumni Ventures Group.

Assistance in hiring managers to get the job done

The impetus for founding Utmost came from the realization that the market is currently being poorly served by selective solutions that create operational silos. In many companies there are several VMS, each tied to a specific recruiting agency and region. Other employees come under service contracts with professional service companies, business process outsourcers (BPOs) and facility management providers. Functions such as marketing and IT can be hired by freelancers for specific projects. This creates a confusing landscape of processes and tools for hiring managers who just want to get someone to do the job. This is the main pain point that Utmost wants to resolve. O’Toole sums up:

We’re definitely trying to build something that’s a bit removed from the recruitment agencies and very focused on the company. And especially the hiring manager, because that’s where all the grief is …

We are trying to create this universal front door so that anyone who wants a non-employee anywhere in the world can go to one place and follow a set of guidelines and find someone and they are properly classified.

That goal was a priority for early customers including water treatment company Ecolab, cybersecurity provider NortonLifeLock (formerly Symantec), and insurer Colonial Life. While Utmost also offers a number of robust procurement satisfaction processes, it is designed as a tool for HR professionals. Developers have focused on building workflows to replace older VMS systems and provide more seamless, globally consistent processes for hiring managers. These workflows cover the three core areas of recruiting, engaging and paying employees. Not only does the platform provide a corporate view of these processes, but also a supplier view where agencies and other vendors can respond to work requests, and an individual employee view for actions like onboarding, confirming certifications, submitting timesheets, etc.

Integrated with Workday

All of this is also integrated into Workday by entering reference data such as access permissions, organizational charts, business locations, cost centers and currencies and updating the profile of the contingent worker back on Workday. Utmost has inherited the look and feel of Workday so the user experience is familiar. The integration makes it possible to display all employees and non-employees in a single organizational view in Utmost and to report all data within Workday. Automated processes created in the Utmost Workflow Builder are executed in Workday; Such as triggering a work request, bringing a remote agent on, reviewing certifications in an external system and marking for further investigation if the review fails, or accepting invoices and approving payments and sending them to the financial system .

A key benefit of bringing all information together in a single view in Utmost is the support of compliance. The system looks for anomalies and indicates problems such as: B. an employee whose contract has expired and who should no longer have access to the IT system, or who has not renewed certification and should therefore not be assigned to work in certain areas. Other rules that can be defined may relate to the maximum contract length in a particular country or the maximum number of workers in a particular location.

A new version, slated for next month, is expected to round out Utmost’s ability to act as a full VMS replacement. So the final round of funding comes at just the right time to drive product development and sales for the company. With the number of employees under management and the number of tens of thousands of orders already processed, which has nearly doubled in the first three months of this year, Utmost is “already doing a lot,” says O’Toole.

My attitude

The rise of the gig economy and smoother work patterns are hardly new trends that have just emerged, and yet HCM systems are still based on the assumption that all of a company’s workforce is employees. This just doesn’t reflect the modern world and it’s amazing how slowly HCM providers have adapted to this new reality. On the one hand, they are becoming more sophisticated when it comes to tracking skills, mood, and development across the workforce. At the same time, they have a blind spot for all of these factors in a growing segment of the workforce who are more under contract than on payroll. It is absurd.

No wonder Utmost sees an untapped opportunity here. The approach is far-sighted and care is taken to ensure that the data model is oriented more towards individual employees than towards agencies, contracts or personnel managers. This means that an employee’s profile can be tracked across multiple jobs, even when switching between job channels, e.g. B. when an independent contractor decides to join an agency. It also makes sense that quota work should be viewed as an extension of HCM rather than an extension of the procurement function. Both choices are in line with the growing trend for individual workers to take more ownership of their own talents and job travel.

Utmost has already proven that there is a market for its EWS story and it seems destined to become a major player. Will this be a standalone company or will Workday decide to complete the existing partnership with an acquisition? As long as Utmost remains a pure Workday solution, which is sure to be its fate. In which case did Workday not just build the solution in-house? The argument is certainly that you need a startup mentality to disrupt an established category with fresh thinking. In this case, Utmost is a strong validation of the Workday Ventures model.

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