Recently, I came across an outsourcing engagement in a company run by my friend. He was narrating the story and I felt compelled to share with all of you as it opened up an important part of the outsourcing success ingredient. One of the metaphors we always use is ‘it is not a boxing match between the two teams that are located in two corners of the world’. Once you feel this way, the engagement is doomed for failure. Let us come back to this story.
My friend’s company got engaged with a client for doing some of the back-office tasks. The client must have researched enough and was putting in lot of efforts on preparing the ‘blue book’ as they call it. This ‘blue book’ is also sort of a bible for the remote team to follow once they begin the project. The client therefore spent enormous amount of time on two tasks- one to identify a task that was deemed as a stand-alone (island) and therefore could be sent to the remote team. Second, they took pains to list out the steps in carrying out this stand-alone task.
As you may have guessed, the project began very well. The remote teams even were able to suggest improvements to the ‘blue book’ as they went along. Thru’ out the weekly cycle (the first task was to work on transactions that occur on a weekly basis), the remote team hardly had to discuss/engage with the project sponsor. What happened to the onsite team that was doing this task until now? Where are they? The remote team had no clue and had probably talked to them once during the kick-off.
Story looks really rosy – this is how an outsourcing should work – auto-pilot almost?
Nah, the disaster came in after 3 months of transition. Why? The stakeholders of the task were blindsided totally during the weekly cycle. Any challenges that they faced, they had no clue to respond to the field /vendors. There was no problem with the remote team’s quality or timeliness. What was missing was the bonding between the onsite and the remote teams. The project manager or what we call SPOC (Single Point of Contact) from the client side did her job perfectly (Blue book, shared folders, access credentials, work allocation etc). However, she did not involve the original team mates all thru’ the process /weekly cycle.
What we learn from the above experience is that there is no such thing as
- Stand-alone (Island) tasks in outsourcing.
- Teams must meld together from the beginning and must avoid the boxing match syndrome.
We always recommend taking baby steps however nothing must be done in isolation.