The Transaction Series
SALES READINESS 2013: WHAT OUTSOURCING SERVICE PROVIDERS NEED TO SUCCEED IN THE NEW YEAR
Learn more about the OI's upcoming Service Provider Summit Events in London, Atlanta & Dallas & View Agendas
Everyone: Special Interest Groups, Road Shows,
Webinars, Outsourcing Jobs/Recruiting
Buyers: OI Helpdesk, RFP Tools, Vendor Selection/Matchmaker, Buyers/Practioners LinkedIn Page
Vendors/Influencers: Exposure, Thought Leadership, Sponsorship, Providers/Influencers LinkedIn Page
Lessons Learned for buyers from Episode 8 of The Transaction
Ten Lessons for Avoiding Outsourcing Disasters
Provided by Phil Fersht, Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Horses for Sources.
Many enterprises are now leaping onto the outsourcing bandwagon as they come to grips with the economic meltdown. More than 10% of mid-to-large enterprises are moving into application and business process outsourcing engagements for the first time.
Having spent several months focusing on survival strategies to ride out the recession, organizations are now turning to outsourcing, expecting an easy way to carve out operating cost. However, outsourcing initiatives that arenít diligently evaluated and executed nearly always have the opposite effect, resulting in increased costs, business disruption, and embarrassed executive sponsors. How can enterprises moving into large outsourcing engagements for the first time avoid such outsourcing disasters?
- Donít just focus on core versus non-core, but evaluate what is fit and ready
Simply evaluating which processes you want to outsource isnít enough. As attractive as outsourcing them might seem, not all processes are fit or ready to be moved. You must ensure that processes are well documented, stable, and standardized enough to make them outsource-able. Otherwise, you could spend millions of dollars on consulting fees getting into condition to outsource.
- Donít jump at the lowest priced offerings
In this tough market, a multitude of providers are willing to undercut everyone to win your business. Remember, you are looking at a 72-month-plus rather than a 12-month roadmap. Focus on how the providers will leverage technology and process expertise to drive value beyond offshoring of labor. Moreover, ensure there is a good cultural fit between the provider you select and your firm. Ultimately, you should seek a partnership that vests the outsourcer in the ventureís success and not simply a contractual agreement defined by penalties and service levels.
- Temper executive expectations
Corporate leaders are frequently exposed to outsourcing stories where firms have driven out loads of cost through deep global partnerships with outsourcing providers. In most cases, it takes years to reach such remarkable success. Play down the possible business benefits until you have thoroughly examined and evaluated whatís possible and whatís not. Otherwise, you could end up being the bearer of bad news and losing confidence from your leadership.
- Collect experiences of peers in other organizations
Because executives and the outsourcers are under pressure to impress, publicized examples of outsourcing engagements tend to conceal the truth. Get under the covers to discover the real experiences your peers in other organizations are having with outsourcing engagements. Attend some intimate focus groups to learn more about what really goes on with outsourcing. Peer forums, such as those at AMR Research, or industry networks, such as the Outsourcing Institute, IAOP (International Association of Outsourcing Professionals), or the SSON (Shared Services and Outsourcing Network) are good venues where where executives share advice on how to steer outsourcing efforts toward success and away from common pitfalls.
- Think about future flexibility
Companies must consider how potential acquisitions or divestitures might impact outsourced business processes, or vice versa. Discuss these issues with senior management before finalizing any transactions, as many outsourcing engagements are highly expensive to undo in the event of M&A activity.
- Think about your internal learning
Once you outsource processes, you may also lose the knowledge and expertise still needed to improve them. Make sure you understand the value of this knowledge before taking it out of the enterprise. In the same vein, if you are engaging a service provider over a long period, ensure your existing staff can learn from its experts too. For example, retaining up-to-date internal skills in SAP Business Warehouse can be a valuable asset for your organization, whether you outsource related processes or not.
- Think about the strategic value of IT
Too many firms have been treating their IT function purely as a cost-cutting mechanism in recent times. In cases where IT plays a purely administrative role, it makes sense to drive out as much cost as possible. But in many other cases IT is inherently embedded in the future success of the organization. For example, a retailer may expect to generate over half its revenue through e-commerce, and that number may be growing as consumers shift further toward buying online. Since competition is high and differentiation is critical to success, retaining specialized IT expertise in developing, implementing, and maintaining e-commerce technology is crucial to success. Risking this by outsourcing could well be taking away a powerful revenue-generation capability for the future.
- Evaluate the impact to the local community
In this economic environment, local media and politicians tend to frown upon any type of offshoring outsourcing. You must maintain the utmost discretion during the evaluation process and prepare a concise communications plan both internally and externally when you decide how to proceed. You may need to invest in a consultant with specific experience with outsourcing matters. Advisors such as Alsbridge, Deloitte, Equaterra and PwC and W Group have experience with such issues and can also help with broader outsourcing strategy.
- Anticipate the impact to your corporate culture
Moving work outside of the company, and bringing an outsourcing service providerís staff to work with you, can impact your culture dramatically. Work hard with your transition team to assimilate your internal staff with other work cultures. Hiring a staff with outsourcing governance experience is especially valuable in this case. You should organize a series of change management workshops to educate all staff that the outsourcing engagement will affect. These should cover how to work with foreign cultures and attitudes, in addition to how roles and responsibilities must change to operate effectively in an outsourced environment. Just because one of your staff was effective at managing a team of 50 developers doesnít man she or he will be effective at managing a service provider relationship. Outsourcing consultants, especially those with large change management practices that focus on outsourcing such as those mentioned above, can often help with these initiatives. For example, Deloitte Consulting has a human capital consulting practice that serves this purpose.
- Focus on broader outsourcing governance across IT, supply chain and financial processes
Managing offshore staff and dealing with complex transition and change management issues often pose the same challenges for leadership, whether theyíre managing a supply chain, finance, or IT engagement. Many progressive organizations with ongoing outsourcing engagements underway are setting up broad senior-level governance organizations that have oversight across all outsourcing activity across all business functions. This enables these synergies across business and IT processes to be explored and maximized.
As the lessons above outline, the impact of outsourcing cuts far deeper than merely entering into a transaction with a service provider. Corporate leaders need to focus on their people, processes and technology in tandem when they evaluate and execute their outsourcing opportunities. Experienced outsourcing practitioners often use the ď30% rule of thumbĒ when they evaluate an outsourcing business case: Simply put, if youíre not taking more than 30% of cost from the bottom-line, itís probably not worth the upheaval to your business. Adhering to these 10 lessons should help you make that 30% worthwhile, if thatís your chosen path.
For more tips and advice on outsourcing best practices and strategy visit Philís blog:"HORSES FOR SOURCES"
:: BACK ::
Lessons Learned for outsourcing service providers from Episode 8 of The Transaction
Provided by Joseph Vales, Senior Partner, Vales Consulting Group, LLC.
The Lessons Learned for Service Providers from Episode 8 focus on the differentiators that separate winners from losers.
People Buy People....especially the people who will work on their business. In the final moments of the decision making process, relationships do matter and distinguish firms. It was clear that the winning firm had gone out of its way to communicate that they would be a natural extension of the client: offering a similar culture and people that really understand the client. It is very comforting to buyers to know that when problems arise, as they always do in complex contracts, that their service provider understands and appreciates their concerns. It is very important for service providers to carefully select both the sales and client servicing teams that will interact with the client during the RFP process. And it is even more important that the leadership of the delivery team that will work on the buyers account be identified in the RFP, present the solution at the Orals, play a lead role during any site visit, and be a cultural fit.
Your brand can get you in the door but it needs to be sustained and brought to life throughout the RFP process. Initially service providers with more established brands and experience have a powerful competitive advantage. But what the brand stands for needs to be supported throughout the sales process. For example, if the service provider's brand stands for technology innovation or exceptional client service, or even smart, dedicated people, this is great. But you need to then translate this brand into the value proposition you present to the customer and integrate it into the solution. In the discussions and presentations leading to selecting a winner, it appears that the losing firm did not build off the strengths of its brand and experience, while the winning provider used its strengths as key differentiators.
The site visit can be a killer. Over the years, we have seen so many deals collapse at the site visit. All too often, site visit presentations are canned and few if any service delivery people have even read the proposal. Buyers are polite during these presentations but when they leave the building and drive to the airport, they often complain that the service provider didn't understand their special needs and didn't connect the dots. During the decision-making discussion in Episode 8, the buyer's team mentioned that the site visit at one firm did not meet their expectations. It was a clear differentiator for the winning firm.
Expect the buyer to ask the right questions and conduct supplemental due diligence. Buyers as a norm now talk to their peers about the capabilities of service providers. Do not overstate your capabilities. In Episode 8, the losing service provider promoted a powerful systems solution supporting their recommended delivery model. But when questioned by the buyer, it was discovered that the solution was only implemented at one client. This was perceived negatively by the buyer and diluted what could have been a competitive advantage for the service provider.
Price was not the differentiator but only because both firms were close on price. You can still win with a higher price if you have a powerful value proposition and solution. But in today's economy, if you are not price competitive, it is very difficult for a buyer to select your firm.
A deal is not a deal until the final contract is signed. The winning firm met the timetable for agreeing on the contract and all the terms and conditions. Any delays in the contracting process could lead the buyer to reopen the door to another provider.
For more sales and marketing tips and advice email Joe Vales at firstname.lastname@example.org.