The Professionals: Qasim Ali, Carphone Warehouse
Our latest learnings from The Professionals come from Qasim Ali, Head of Infrastructure Services at Carphone Warehouse…
Outsource: What are the three most important attributes you seek in a potential partner – and what one single factor is most likely to prevent you partnering with an organisation?
Qasim Ali: The three most important attributes are: transparency; the demonstration of passion throughout the organisation (not just the customer-facing UK personnel); and a “been there, done that, got the scars and learnt our lessons” mentality.
The single factor that would prevent partnering is a lack of demonstrable USP.
O: What’s the most impressive instance of innovation you’ve encountered during your time in and around the shared services and outsourcing space, and why?
QA: It was quite a few years ago, and it involved a leading IT outsourcer rapidly transforming an ageing “SP estate”, that hosted the leading loyalty card system, to the first virtualised pSeries platforms. This was done by a team of experts and the innovation was purely identified, managed and delivered by the supplier with near-zero impact to the customer’s live service – almost seamless and at the time cutting-edge, replacing the old with the new.
O: What’s the most outrageous example of shared services/outsourcing “worst practice” you’ve witnessed, and why?
QA: Outsourcing of a function led by a customer team that had little or no knowledge in outsourcing best practices, which then required “seasoned outsource professionals” to come in, troubleshoot and eventually turn it around. Outsourcing is a “skill” and it is ill-advised to try and “go it alone”.
O: What do you see as being the biggest obstacle/s to the further expansion and evolution of the shared services and outsourcing space?
QA: Data protection, European economic fragility – and customers focussing less on quality and being driven purely by cost (which is more of a pressing concern when you consider the global economic situation).
O: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt over the course of your career?
QA: It has to be win/win, whether it’s an in-house operation or an outsourced/shared-service relationship; if a supplier (external or internal) succeeds then so does the customer (provided that scope/requirements are correct etc) and vice-versa. It must be a win/win for strategic success.
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