The Professionals: Robert Gaunt, Transfield Services
Our new series of Q&As with buy-side professionals continues with some wise words from Transfield Services’ Global Service Delivery Manager…
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?
Robert Gaunt: Successful partners demonstrate that they understand the client’s pain points and have credible solutions to address them. Being a partner’s first client with a particular requirement can be a painful experience; show me your track record and that you aren’t making this stuff up on the fly.
The worst thing a potential partner can do is not be open: to paraphrase Nietzsche: “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you”.
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?
RG: Innovation is an interesting concept; we try to code it into contracts, we have governance meetings to discuss it, perhaps a senior exec is given responsibility to develop it. And yet…. it’s rarer than a Premiership footballer with a degree.
Technology innovation aside, I really like to see partners offering to take on more risk and reward with innovative charging mechanisms. Doesn’t happen much though, sadly.
O: What’s the most outrageous example of shared services/outsourcing “worst practice” you’ve witnessed, and why?
RG: The classic mistake of a supplier quoting incremental support charges in terms of fractions of FTEs. After a while, the client does the maths and wants to know where the extra dozen staff are – and why don’t they need login IDs?
O: What do you see as being the biggest obstacle/s to the further expansion and evolution of the shared services and outsourcing space?
RG: The parlous state of the global economy is both an opportunity for outsourcing but also a major risk; nations are playing a dangerous “beggar thy neighbour” game with currencies to reduce the impact of massive debt and to speed the necessary deleveraging after the credit party. Cross-border business cases could end up as casualties to this.
In addition, it is not beyond the realms of imagination to foresee a return to the bad old days of closed trade markets and labour/immigration restrictions as politicians try to protect industries and votes.
O: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt over the course of your career?
RG: “Clients usually get the contract outcome they deserve.” Which is a flippant way of saying that, if you don’t put the effort in to define your requirements and continually manage the delivery, you’ll probably find yourself in a series of contract crisis meetings next year.
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