European SSO Week 2014: First Thoughts
It’s that time of year again: the grandest spectacle in the European outsourcing calendar, the 14th Annual European Shared Services & Outsourcing Week, has rolled into town – in this case fair Dublin – and based on the experience of the first few hours of the event proper (yesterday was a pre-conference workshop day) it’s looking like the best installment in a while, with a well-structured and varied programme bringing in the great and the good from across the outsourcing and business transformation space.
Having selected the Procurement stream for the morning session I was treated to some great insight into public-private procurement partnership in the form of the groundbreaking – and occasionally controversial – Southwest One project, from Ian Conner, the project’s CPO. Some standout quotes – thanks Ian! – included “A fresh approach to Procurement is essential if you really want to change things”; “collaboration isn’t easy; don’t assume everybody wants to be your friend”; and (my favourite) “be prepared to develop different models for different categories” – fine advice often ignored by those seeking to impose efficiencies and standardisation at all costs.
Next up was a very enlightening, and entertaining, presentation on ‘Applying Negotiation & Contracting Skills Throughout The Outsourcing Continuum To Achieve Innovative Deal Management’ – not itself the most streamlined title perhaps but co-presenters Ed Hansen and Jeanette Nyden covered a huge amount of ground, getting to the nub of matters as diverse as the role of the RFP (“it’s about getting your act together”, says Ed); behaving in a way appropriate to one’s place on the sourcing continuum; and how choosing the right partner is the single most important aspect of the entire process. I’m looking forward to tapping into a lot of that content, and more, in the form of editorial input from Ed down the line.
Throw in some excellent chats with some friends old and new – including the always marvellous Cathy Tornbohm (see her interview from the last issue of Outsource here) who keynotes tomorrow morning – and it’s been a fantastic start to our visit. The afternoon sessions promise even more – and there’s tonight’s extravaganza at the Aviva Stadium to look forward to to boot. More later…