in outsourced relationships than we do for internal departments? Outsourcing may provide you the opportunity you need
to create KPIs for key lines of business in your organization.
L LEARN. How often do you facilitate “lessons learned”
with an internal initiative, project or department? In an outsourced relationship, “lessons learned” and making subtle
mid-course corrections is a normal part of the cycle of improving service delivery and sustainability.
M MARTHA CRAUMER. Her May 2002 article from
Harvard Management Update, “How to Think Strategically about
Outsourcing,” reset the way I approached outsourcing. She
gets credit for challenging me to begin with outsourcing’s linkage to organization strategy, instead of its role in cost savings.
N NICSCA. If you are in a rut, an external force is often
required to jump out. Outsourcing is often the fastest, most
cost-effective way to implement NICSCAs (New Ideas, Creative Solutions and Collaborative Approaches).
O OBSERVE. As you begin your outsourcing scope of work
or RFP, visit your peers in other organizations and observe
their methods and metrics. Those observations should help
you ask better questions and set clearer expectations.
P PINK, as in Daniel Pink. In 2002, Pink’s Wired
magazine article challenged readers to “supplement our well-developed high-tech abilities with aptitudes that are high concept
and high touch.” Outsourcing can free up internal resources
for the organization’s unique “high concept” and “high touch”
Q QUESTION. Why are you doing it this way? Is this the
best way? Consider outsourcing, and it will challenge you to
evaluate your current investments, processes and results.
R REHEARSE. Whether you are outsourcing an entire
department, short-term initiative or single project, rehearse the
workflow between your organization and the outsourcing vendor. This practice will reveal unclear assumptions, useful
checkpoints and realistic expectations.
S SEEDS. What seeds are you planting today that will
yield crops next harvest? Outsourcing can handle some of
your short-term initiatives, and allow you to plan for the
T TRANSFORM INSTEAD OF TRANSPLANT. Don’t transplant a problem process to the outsourced vendor. Allow
them to transform it. Mandate the results, not the process.
U UNLEASH. The December/January issue of Fast Company delivered an article about Toyota’s institutional obsession with improvement — improvements that resulted in
fewer engineering hours, but not fewer engineers. The engineers’ efforts were unleashed into other areas of the plant,
seeking other improvements. Will outsourcing allow you to
liberate key staff to seek mission critical activities?
V VISUALIZE. In your weekly routine, do you pause long
enough to paint the big picture for your role and your team?
Can you imagine the possibilities with a few subtle changes?
Outsourcing can provide the vehicle for those changes.
W WHAT IF …? This is a great conversation prompt when
brainstorming the impact of outsourcing in your organization.
In addition, I use three other starters: ( 1) It would be great
if … ; ( 2) There must be a better way to … ; and ( 3) I would
be more productive if …
X X-RAY. Take a look at the skeletal infrastructure of your
organization. Does your staff have the right tools for their
mission? If you don’t have the right infrastructure, could you
arrive at the same destination by skipping the capital investments and outsourcing?
Y YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL. Are you fully staffed to meet
your organization’s priorities? Or are you prioritizing your
organization in order to meet staff capacity? Outsourcing
can be a cost-effective way to extend capacity to meet your
Z ZYDECO. From Creole music of Louisiana in the early
1900s, to its own category at the Grammy Awards in 2007,
Zydeco continues to integrate a disparate variety of musical
instruments and traditions into its own distinct sound. Outsourcing travels a similar journey, from tactical cost-saving
projects to strategic mission-critical partnerships, continuing
to benefit a wide audience of teams and organizations.
Ronald M. Moen is technology director at Association Management Center. He
may be reached at (847) 375-4774 or email@example.com.
Join the conversation at www.theforumeffect.org.