Over the years I have led or been the end user (or victim) of business outsourcing initiatives. Some were very successful, while others were a flop. What’s an Ops Leader to do?
Here are 4 specific steps that you can take to increase the likelihood that your project will be successful. Have others? Please add them in the comments section.
1) Ask About The Contract Early In The Sales Cycle
During the sales process, some vendors will tell you everything that you want to hear. Then, when it comes down to the contract negotiations, they refuse to agree to certain things in writing. Our legal teams are not fans of this.
Early in the sales cycle, ask the vendors(s) for an example of their standard contract and whether they are open to negotiating the verbiage. This is especially important if you are a larger organization negotiating with a smaller entity.
Common sticking points include service level agreements (SLAs), minimum monthly charges, employee training, ongoing quality monitoring, data privacy and data security.
Asking about the contract options early in the sales cycle ensures that there are no surprises after you have made your vendor selection
2) Ask Prospective Vendors About Business Process Management (BPM) Software
When we outsource, we outsource a process or set of processes. The more complex the process, the more important it is that your third party uses some type of automation or business process management software.
Ask to see a demo of their “employee desktop” and what tools are available for their employees to use. Ask them what software they use to ensure that their teams follow every step in your process.
Examples of BPM vendors include Ultimus, Pega and Appian. There are also many home grown versions.
3) Document, Document, Document Before Go Live
Months before you Go Live, create detailed documentation that explains exactly what you want your third party vendor to do. Think of every scenario and exactly how you want them to handle them from beginning to end.
The best way to create high quality documentation is to involve the employees who are doing the work today.
After Go Live, gather feedback on what’s working and what’s not, and continually improve the documentation.
The quality of your documentation has a direct correlation to the quality of the services that your third party provides.
4) Treat Your Vendor Like Part Of The Team
Yes, you are paying them for a service, but in the past you were paying employees to complete the same work. If you treat the vendor like an extension of your business, with respect, they are more likely to provide the service you desire.
Build partnerships, share information, provide positive feedback in addition to any improvement suggestions.
If it is a small outsource initiative with a finite number of third party employees, meet the employees, provide some face to face training and stay in touch over time.
You may also like this related article: Managing outsourcing, ensuring quality across oceans by Lauren Gibbons Paul, on the Managing Automation Blog.