I’ve promised (in a prior post) to share my thoughts on why the outsourcing industry has proven to be such a serial under-achiever in terms of innovation and value to the Clients who trusted in the promises of leverage and focused expertise. While I don’t want to “tease” the reader on this topic, I thought that I’d preface my comments with another/related topic.What does it take to be a good Client in an outsourcing relationship?
I developed my views as I was leading the sales organization for a large outsourcing service provider. And, I colored those views through my decade of experience on the Advisory side of the industry. Ironically, that’s where I am today – advising companies on their strategies for whether/how to “buy” services as an alternative to building/running themselves.You may have noticed from prior postings that I am promoting a view that the sell-side of outsourcing is flipping in dramatic fashions as Clients change their buying strategies. Some service providers will make it through the inflection; others will fall away. Of more interest, new entrants will be taking flight. But, I digress.
Here are my top ten ways that an outsourcing Client can/should behave to get the most value from their contracted services agreements:
- Economic Game Planning – transparent sharing of expectations, assumptions, and tactics; open book “Account Planning”
- Respect the Boundaries – defined services at defined prices; not “anything goes”
- Governance in Good Times and Bad – cadence is essential; tiered points of interface; informal forums
- Zero-Tolerance for Ethical Lapses – mistakes happen / deceit cannot
- Bi-Directional Management System – balanced energy on internal stakeholders and external providers
- Find the Provider’s “Nexus of Influence” – where are resources controlled and decisions taken? It may be in surprising layers of the organization.
- Become a Storyteller – celebrate hard by recognizing excellence, and enabling contextual awareness
- Don’t Fish for Tuna in a Lake – recognize limitations in scope and scale
- Know if You’re a Lighthouse – early adoption of new services carries a different risk profile
- Always Serve as a Reference – the most valued lever, when happy and not
As I’ve said to everyone who will listen on this topic, success pivots around people. Even for highly-automated processes, it’s a people industry. All service-based relationships rely on passionate, engaged people who are committed to success – on both sides of the buyer-supplier relationship.As we segue to the “As A Service” economy, many Clients of outsourcing will be looking at their provider relationships with the question: are you part of my past, or an enabler of my future? Living by these ten principles will provide a solid foundation for making that decision as an informed buyer.