by Cynthia Batty, Director, TPI
Something is changing in the outsourcing universe. We suddenly see companies that have never outsourced before becoming deeply engaged in multiple concurrent outsourcing transactions. It is happening because these companies have an imperative to transform their organizations "overnight."
So they are undertaking these transformations by outsourcing functions such as information systems, transaction processing, Finance & Accounting and Human Resources — all within a very few months of each other.
Rapidly transforming companies have learned from mistakes of the past and want to talk about Governance, but they assume that"Governance" and the roadmap to success are completely mature. This leads to a phenomenon of "Governance in an Hour" or its related cousin, "Governance on One Page," in which the speed of change overwhelms the ability of the organization to address fundamental decisions, structures and processes that will enable the transformation.
If you recognize your organization in this scenario, consider these TPI Top 5 tips for companies coping with overnight transformation through outsourcing:
1. Make sure you have established clear accountability for the outsourcing relationships at all levels of the enterprise. We see companies trying to matrix responsibilities as they design their Governance of complex transformations. That is understandable, but a matrix reporting structure can obscure accountability. The service provider is responsible to deliver the services; but YOU are accountable for ensuring that you receive the services. Identify a clear line of accountability from a service to an executive who is a genuine stakeholder in the outcome to ensure that the service accountability does not get lost in the transformation.
2. Establish enterprise roles and responsibilities early in your transformation. Corporate functions are significantly affected in outsourcing, particularly Procurement, Risk, Security, Legal, and Audit. Leaving role definition until later in the process can stall important development of the Governance approach and can impede the development of an Outsourcing Center of Excellence.
3. Invest in a Governance data and workflow system. Most companies that are more mature in multisourcing are still using Microsoft Excel and Access to manage their data and workflow at great human cost in both hours and fatigue. Resist this approach. Software to manage these areas is maturing rapidly. A true Governance data and workflow system will pay for itself in a year and free your Governance team to focus on work, not on spreadsheets.
4. Seek out and listen to experienced colleagues in other companies. To paraphrase a well-known quote about childrearing: "Once upon a time I had five theories about outsourcing, but no outsourcing. Now I have five service providers and no theories." Outsourcing will change everything about the way your company works, forever. Ask people who have been through it.
5. Follow your instincts to conduct meaningful organizational change management — and have a plan to look back. Companies undergoing rapid transformation have a very high risk of changing too fast for the organization to absorb the changes. Transformational outsourcing is not a popular choice for change; your program must include the vision of what your organization is changing into, the detail for the organization to see and live in the new world, and a program for following up to make sure the transformation stuck.
Contact Cynthia Batty, Director, TPI, to learn more.