In my years of shared services advisement I have rarely seen what I would call a tight ship. Few seem to realize the price of inadequate documentation and standardization. Yet that lack can increase handle time, training time, support costs and transition costs significantly. Yes, it all takes time and effort to implement -- and discipline to maintain. But you are paying for the lack of documentation and standardization already. Should you pursue outsourcing as well, you will pay to have it created under a “best-practice” transition as performed by any top tier provider. Transition is expensive and will necessarily impact customer service to some degree. That expense is a product of the period of.....
Nobody is in the outsourcing business any more than restaurateurs are in the nourishment business. Both are outcomes. No one makes a restaurant choice based upon caloric value alone. That industry is better understood as providing a fine dining experience together with all the constituent elements of atmosphere, presentation, taste, quality, service and value. Likewise, nobody displaces their workforce simply for the sake of doing so. A similar understanding of customer motivation might move us toward a more fundamental understanding of what those of us who now call themselves outsourcers really do.
I’ve finally reached my personal threshold of hearing the half-sentence: “We outsourced because we couldn’t find enough qualified candidates to fill our open positions…” The rest of that sentence being: “… at the price we wanted to pay”. And that last part always seems to get left off. It’s much easier to blame the educational systems, youth, parents, government, and society in general than admit to our own ineffective management. Let me suggest a few alternate explanations for why any given organization might experience trouble finding qualified candidates:
In my career I have had large multi-year BPM project leadership experience. That includes an implementation spanning years managing the wholesale ordering applications and processing for one of the top-5 mobility providers in the US. Once given the freedom to implement my own solutions approach, I chose a very different tactic. It is one I believe to be especially suited to the outsourcing environment – if not the wider shared services community.
Process improvement, regardless of the approach -- be it Lean, 6-Sigma, CMM or any of the many others -- begins with measurement and analytics. Years ago the industry predicted a groundswell of clients seeking to move beyond initial labor arbitrage savings to realize real and ongoing efficiency gains. My own reaction was to create a technology called StopWatch. It provides managers with the data required to drive the analytics and strategic insight at the basis of any process reengineering and as part of a continuous improvement methodology.