Outsourcing Nightmares: dire advice...
What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve been given during your career in outsourcing?
Co-Founder, Director at Catacient Consulting Private Ltd.
A CIO once confided and shared the worst advice he thought he had received : “Go with your gut feel in your choice of your service provider, throw in a watertight contract and things will fall in place over time.”
Owner, Abelard Collaborative Consultancy
The worst advice I have heard in relation to outsourcing is “They know what they are doing, leave them to it.”
The old adage of “you should never outsource a mess” is bunk and yet you still hear it all the time. I think what people mean to say is that you should never outsource something that you don’t understand. If you know that something is a mess and how you would sort it out if you had unlimited access to resources then passing it to experts is often exactly the right thing to do, with a clear understanding of what you are handing over and what you want the outcome to be.
If something is very broken then it often takes access to best-in-class or specialist resources and knowledge to fix it and that is more likely to reside within an organisation that specialises in the services in question than inside a customer organisation. You would not consider performing your own surgery simply because you were in a lot of pain.
Director, Blagreaves Consultants
“Just deliver what the client/business is asking for whether it’s the right for them or not”, and unfortunately I’ve been given this piece of advice too often…
Senior Vice-President, Sitel
When I was on the client side I was told “you can never outsource effectively.” Seven years later and with a number of award-winning global clients around the world, not only improving their customer service but saving costs, it remains the worst piece of career advice I have been given!
Architect of the Vested Business Model
The worst advice that I have ever gotten is that, “It’s just business – nothing personal” and then being directed by a senior executive to do something that would harm one of our highly strategic suppliers for a short-term gain for my company. Organisations seek to build trust and transparency with key suppliers, but with that kind of advice they can, in one fell swoop, destroy trust and put you back at square one with your suppliers. Smart organisations understand that “business happens” and they have a better chance of coming out with positive results if a buyer and supplier are both working together to solve the problem. More companies need to think in terms of long-term, total cost of ownership and risk reduction than short-term gains by negotiating with an upper hand.
Chief Managing Officer, Ormuco Communications
The worst advice I ever received was not to outsource, as providers will never be as dedicated or committed as you! The fact is that outsourcers are on the whole more agile, can bring a wealth of non-competing knowledge to the table which drives potentially better outcomes as they are driven to ensure financial penalty clauses are not invoked.
Senior Project Manager, Outsourcing, GP Strategies UK
Personally it’s been to assume I know what a client wants… Never assume; work with clients to share lessons learned and best practices and make recommendations based on this – but always listen and take a fresh approach to each client as the solution must meet their needs/culture/strategy.
VP, Strategic Account Relationships, Tungsten Network
“The customer is always right.” This is bad advice when the customer isn’t right. Better advice would be: customers need their provider to be the expert and provide direction.
To read more of our lead feature on ‘Outsourcing Nightmares’ from the Autumn 2014 issue of Outsource, see the article index here.