Truly speaking, outsourcing success depends on two things: the buyer has to be willing to put in the effort, and the right people have to be in place to make the relationship work. But in reality, very few customers/buyers understand this.
The fundamental problem is that the relationship between buyer and vendor gets strained over the years though starting might look spectacular. Clients ask Why should I pay a service provider millions of dollars and then take extra effort & time to manage them? Why cant they bring value to me and proactively perform the tasks without my help?
But in reality, the little-known trust about this outsourcing business-at its core- is a human endeavor and pure psychology. Like all other human relationships, it is a combination of our ability to communicate and deliver on our promises. While the industry obsesses about speeds sheets, staffing levels, service levels, accuracy, exit clauses and other data points, what we should all really be talking about is the human behavior that makes a healthy partnership work (or not).
In essence, we can apply 80-20 rulein reverse! We pay attention to the objective data points or project matrices, which are easy to measure and apply, while we shy away from working on the human part of the equation because it is so difficult to quantify and measure. As a result, we end up focusing on merely 20 percent of what we need to be doing to make the relationship successful and keep measuring these data points.
Most of us were taught this simple rule: treat others how you would like to be treated. We have read many books and quotes about leadership with emphasis on this fact of leading with empathy. So why do so few of us apply it in our outsourcing relationships? Why we do treat our vendors differently and dont consider them as part of our ecosystem? To be part of our community of success?
Here are a few reasons:
- The amount of money involved in this relationship defines these new rules. I can let go $100/per week electrician for less than perfect work much more easily than I can forgive my multi-million/year service provider. Money speaks!!
- We have an aversion to outsourcing. We recall incidents when our friends were displaced by service providers. We always feel outsiders will take away all my jobs!
- We are conditioned to be skeptical of other cultures. It can also apply to corporate cultures. Anyone will tell you that working with [Santosh K] Company A is different than working with Company B, even if the individuals on the team share the very same cultural background and might be from the same country.
- Change is difficult. As human beings, we all resist the change. Outsourcing relationships involve change processes that can take years. Whether we like it or not, chances are and they will be hard for everyone involved. But, in order to be in the competition, we need to adopt the change, even if we dont like it.
- Patience: Initially things might appear that we are spending more time and things might appear messy. Plus, we will have some part of our organization who keeps feeding about why selecting outsourcing was a bad decision in first place, they will also list out the negatives of this vendor. One must have patience to make it work and dont judge the success in one month. It needs time.
The good news is that, with each subsequent generation of outsourcing, #2 through #4 will get easier. The bad news is that, as an industry, we are deluded into thinking we buy and sell technical or functional solutions, when the fact is we are buying and selling human emotions and relationships. The best advice a client can get is to pick the team they want to work with for the next few years. All the rest will fall into place if you have the right relationship.