It’s no surprise, large companies are getting more interested in tapping into the flexibility afforded by a contingent workforce. Last year, large companies that use staffing firms reported that, on average, 21% of their workforces were made up of contingent workers, up from 12% in 2010. It’s expected to be 29% in 2030. On top of this, the ongoing pandemic has shone a spotlight on the benefits of engaging contingent workers.

Amid all this, it’s clear that enterprise firms need visibility into their contingent workforces. And that’s where Utmost Software comes in. Utmost’s software product integrates with Workday and enables companies to track and manage all of their contingent workers. In September, the company won a competition styled after the television show “Shark Tank”  during SIA’s Collaboration in the Gig Economy conference; other finalists were three HR technology firms who vied for top prize in front of a panel of expert judges.

The founders of Utmost hit on doing something with the contingent workforce — after speaking with a number of senior executives — when they found it was a pain point for enterprise firms.

Headquartered in San Francisco and Dublin, Ireland, the company is led by CEO and co-founder Annrai O’Toole. After putting in 10 years at Workday, O’Toole says he decided it was time to start his own firm. “There are lots of software companies that do stuff for employees but there’s not too many engaging the extended workforce,” O’Toole says.

COO and co-founder Dan Beck, who also comes from Workday, says there was even more pain among executives when it comes to tracking their nonemployee workforces than they had initially realized. “We see the market as a bigger opportunity than the VMS software players have been able to address,” Beck says.

Filling in the gaps. Vendor management systems only handle only a small percentage of nonemployee labor. Utmost aims to capture a much larger percentage of nonemployee spend through their system while at the same time offering the functionality of a VMS.

For example, one of its clients, Colonial Life, has 14,000 independent sales agents. Those agents would not likely appear in a VMS. In addition, the insurer also has health counselors that help the salespeople, another cohort that may not be seen in a VMS. Other examples of nonemployee spend not typically captured in a VMS include franchisee networks and business process outsourcing arrangements.

Utmost’s strategy caught the attention of Shark Tank judges.

“All of the startups were really interesting,” Pete Flint, judge and managing partner of NFX, a venture capital firm, said of the competition. “Utmost stood out, just their thoughtfulness, their experience, their distribution; I think that really stood out. This is a terrific opportunity; it’s a burning need for many enterprises.”

“Although there was something timely in everything we saw today, Utmost, in particular, I think is really timely to what enterprise customers, HR executives, hiring managers are trying to solve right now,” said Rebecca Henderson, judge as well as CEO and executive board member at Randstad nv.

Enterprises pay. In addition to taking a more expansive look at companies’ nonemployee labor pools, Utmost is also unlike VMS providers in how it gets paid. Rather than the supplier-paid arrangement typical for VMS deals, Utmost is paid by enterprise firms that use Utmost’s data.

The company believes in having a direct relationship with clients and builds software that directly meets the needs of enterprise users.  “Just philosophically that direct relationship with the enterprise is important,” O’Toole says.

The company also differentiates itself on three core points: its native experience with Workday, a total talent view and worker centricity — part of which is a rich profile of workers. It helps to have an existing user base but of course there are some experts that believe that this may create unique challenges.

Notable trends. Beck also noted the company is seeing several trends amid the Covid-19 outbreak that affect the nonemployee workforce.

Those trends include social justice driving the need for diversity and inclusion. He believes knowledge of the nonemployed workforce will become even more important as companies not only want to work with diversity suppliers but also bring in workers with diverse backgrounds.

Remote work, which became big with Covid-19, is also expected to continue.

Moving forward, Utmost intends to continue working to shed light to clients on their nonemployee workforces. And O’Toole said it’s evident as Utmost continues its journey forward,  enterprise firms need this window on their nonemployee workers.