Computers, smartphones, the Internet, e-commerce and the “uberization” of numerous industries have all reshaped customers’ expectations of IT solutions. Outsourcing is one of the responses to the changes occurring within the modern corporate environment.
For the last five years, I have been committed as a Project Manager to implementing and maintaining outsourcing projects for our customers. Although my colleagues and I have extensive experience delivering IT services within Poland and beyond, and one may think that we should know everything about outsourcing by now, our customers keep surprising us with some of their questions. Does outsourcing always entail the risk of relinquishing control over business processes? What value does outsourcing bring to the enterprise? Can the complexity that comes with various outsourcing methodologies drive customers away? Here are some reflections based on our experience working with a Polish oil industry leader.
Outsourcing always involves some risk, including the risk of losing data and relinquishing control over business processes.
The most difficult and essential part of the process is to make a decision to use outsourcing as a business tool. Our role is to show customers the added value and the extent to which their internal resources might be relieved through outsourcing as staff members are freed up to focus on other key tasks. The following long term advantages should also be considered: no need for costly IT infrastructure; quality guarantee; IT security; and extensive technical and managerial experience ensured by the outsourcing team. Additionally, contracting an independent provider to support corporate management processes transfers some responsibility to the contractor, and is reliant on a deep understanding of how a relevant process works. Another essential step is to properly divide the responsibility between the customer and outsourcing provider.
Template-based outsourcing always runs the risk of burdensome red tape and decision-making lags.
Some argue that effective management is nothing more than common sense. Is it really so? Can a manager have faith in their ability to stay the course with abundant information? Comarch has developed strong teams specialising in the Prince2, Agile, PMP and ITIL methods, and the criteria used to select an appropriate methodology depends mostly on the degree of maturity of the customer’s organization and the dynamics of the planned project.
With regard to project maintenance(providing services on a continued basis after a project is implemented), a few years ago we had great success implementing a management solution with the use of the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) methodology. A well-conceived plan for the implementation of changes, describing internal processes and preparing the teams (Network Operations Center and a team of second-level support engineers) laid the groundwork for successful changes. These were the benefits for the customer:
• Cost optimization – within a short-term perspective, problem-generating elements were identified and eliminated (e.g. a proposal to create a redundant network based on wireless solutions; developing regional storehouses for service equipment; continuous assessment of the supply system);
• Clear communication – a shared concept of the IT realm and communicative structure (technical staff speaking one language);
• Customer relationship – a focus on the customer’s benefits (IT matters viewed from a business perspective) and evolving needs;
• Quality management – raising corporate excellence;
• Adapting pre-existing working models to each customer – we understand and know how to adapt models at hand to specific needs, which allows us to focus on the customer’s unique needs. As a trusted partner, we seek to properly identify needs rather than generating them. What is essential is the information collected during working meetings and formal and informal conversations. We invite our customers to events, conferences and training sessions. Irrespective of individual conditions, we need customers to provide us with insights allowing us to come up with beneficial services.
Whether your company is building a motorway across Poland or manufacturing car parts, the decision to delegate management services to an external provider is a difficult and complex one. It would be a big mistake to assume that all negotiations for outsourcing contracts end successfully, as Gartner’s research reveals that over 50% of all outsourcing contracts are renegotiated, 20% of them within the first contract year. We learned first-hand that it is essential to build strong relationships and take an active part in the customer’s processes and continuous improvement.
Ewa Wojcik, Project Manager Comarch ICT