Managing External Talent Supplier Spend in Automotive

No matter which part of the automotive sector you work in, we can all agree that it’s a complex and collaborative industry. Most projects require support from external talent suppliers to access specific expertise and flexibility. In this article, we’ll focus on how to better manage the spend of these suppliers.

William Engblom

It all starts with choosing the right external talent suppliers. This is often a long and tedious process, as engineering teams usually review tens or hundreds of talent providers to compare profiles, rates, and availability.

After choosing the right suppliers, internal engineering directors often interview the external talents to ensure they fit into the project. After the right talents have been found, a time-consuming onboarding process starts, including training, managing, and reviewing initial results.

When the project is completed, the off-boarding process starts, often consisting of regular end-of-project costs or potential contract-to-hire conversions.

When managing the spend across this chain, there are a few practices to be aware of. Let’s examine them.

Choosing Quality Suppliers Upfront

During a project's supplier selection, companies can consider factors that matter to them, such as previous relationships, global reach, average talent resource cost, and contract terms.

Choosing the right talent suppliers for a project is not necessarily about the number of suppliers but the volume and quality of talent each supplier can provide. 

Higher transparency and better selection often not only give companies higher quality talent resources but also higher confidence that they have made the right choice when having had all the alternatives on the table.

Having the option to follow the entire process from request to onboarding through an online platform can be helpful in understanding which profiles qualify and which don’t.

Increasing Rate Transparency

Typically, legacy external talent suppliers have fixed rates for certain types of profiles & seniority levels. However, this sometimes means overpaying for certain profiles and underpaying for others, creating an imbalance in talent happiness and earnings potential. 

In addition, fixed rates make it harder to save on rates when hiring across different geographies with differing living costs through the same supplier.

The best way to handle rates is to ensure that the rate the talent resource has directly requested and any markup percentage of the talent supplier are transparently visible, individually for every talent resource.

In other words, it’s best when each talent resource has decided & qualified their rate, and this information is transparently visible.

Choosing Vendors with Talent Available Globally

By choosing an external talent supplier with globally available talent, companies can better manage spend by choosing which functions might needs to be done onsite and which could be remote, in a lower-cost country.

Having both global availability and rate transparency provides a unique opportunity to put together a high functioning a cost-efficient team that can operate across borders.

Quick On- and Offboarding

A large part of the spending on external talent resources arises due to slow on-boarding and off-boarding times. This causes projects to start later than planned, not be delivered on time, and cost overruns. 

For onboarding, this might mean too complex contracts, slow hiring, interview scheduling times, or simple long notice periods. 

When it comes to offboarding, companies need to decide whether to let go of the talent resource, place them in another project, or convert them into permanent employees. Usually, it’s best to pick a vendor that allows all of these options on a quick notice.

The Impact of Inefficient Talent Supplier Spend

It’s wrong to think picking the right external talent suppliers is a one-off. Managing external talent suppliers should be a continuous process, and the best supplier should allow real-time access to the available pool of talent resources and rates.

It might be tempting to act quickly by choosing a supplier you’ve always worked with without looking at other options. But it’s an inefficient strategy. That’s how companies end up with expensive, long-term contracts and high spend.

On the other hand, choosing new external talent suppliers can be risky if they are too localized. This might mean going through the entire supplier process for a new supplier, only to hire a team for a single project and not needing them anymore.


When it comes to managing the spend of external talent suppliers in automotive, it comes down to choosing quality vendors upfront that can deliver transparent data, high quality, a global pool of talent, as well as quick on- and offboarding times. 

Dive Deeper

At Hashlist, we try to deliver on all of these expectations by serving as a single point of entry to access thousands of independent, qualified experts. If you’re interested in exploring why the Hashlist platform is so popular among automotive companies, send us a message, and let’s chat.