The story of outsourcing in the workplace

devatas  -  Sep 01, 2011  -  No Comments

This article was provided by our guest blogger “outsourcingmarketeer”. who has over 20 years experience in outsourcing and provided the below story of how outsourcing can benefit an organisation.

At one time I worked with a very successful company that had one response to implementing new initiatives – “get a guy”. (Sometimes they “got a girl” but let’s take “guy” in its generic form. That guy/girl thing is a topic for another day’s blog.)   This champion model worked sometimes, and sometimes it didn’t.  The challenges were that every “guy” had a different process, the definition of success was interpreted differently by each champion, and the team was selected frequently based on prior working relationships not expertise.  So effectively the project approach was a reflection of that champion’s sphere of personal influence and personal integrity in delivering an outcome.  Sometimes there were projects which were winners and sometimes there were disappointments.  Sometimes there were disasters of large investments with no return.

The champion process worked best when the selected guy had a proven process, prior experience and a good network of qualified experts to bring on to the team.  It worked when the outcomes were clearly defined.  And it worked when the project leader was transparent about the challenges they were facing and asked for help.  Reflecting back, that didn’t happen very often.

Why would a company with otherwise mature processes and excellent management take a “roll the dice” approach to launching and investing in important new initiatives?

I think companies who have good processes in other areas struggle with the “how” of launching new programs.  These initiatives are typically critical important to the company’s strategic direction and represent significant investment outlay.   I suspect that executives are still struggling with project strategy because they are not aware yet that they have other options.

Over the past 20 years, the emergence of outsourcing providers in technology areas has changed the way organisations run.  Outsourcers have emerged in many categories who spend their day – all day, every day – doing just one thing and building their expertise, processes and quality.  For example, companies used to manage all their computers in-house.  Today, most companies use outsourced computer hosting environments which provide a level of performance, quality and security enterprise organisations can’t afford to build on their own.  Human Resources, benefits administration and financial systems and processes are outsourced to organisations that live and die by the quality of their service model.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to outsource big, important, corporate initiatives in the same professional way – instead of just “getting a guy”?  Today, organisations really can outsource their new initiatives –but I’m not sure that they know this yet.   Like computer hosting, project management for new initiatives can be outsourced to specialists.  These specialists have proven processes, prior experience and extensive networks of qualified experts selected for their specific knowledge to bring on to the team.  The SLA (service level agreement) can be clearly defined.  And companies can expect their outsourcer to be fully transparent about the challenges they face and ask for help in regular, structured update discussions.

So how do we communicate this outsourcing option?  Well, naming the category would be a great help.  We could call it “Rent-a-Guy”.  How about calling it “Project Leader in a Box”?  Let me know what you’d call a specialized project initiative offer and we’ll talk about it next week.  Till then, cheers.

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