Experienced Global Outsourcing Leaders
» Six Secrets of Successful Outsourcing ©
1. When you change where your work gets done, you must also change how you manage it
When corporations begin their first globalization efforts, those responsible often believe that the principal change involves where work will get done. Of course, workforce location is a critically important determiner of cost effectiveness, and a major change for companies embarking on this course. However, this change is just a precursor to a series of far more fundamental changes that result when “management by walking around” is no longer an option. The first secret of successful globalization is that changing where the work gets done has a dramatic impact on how the work must be managed. Structure and discipline, such as formalized requirements, scope, and issues management, is essential to effectiveness when working with outsourcing providers. You can accelerate progress and increase your rate of return with an outsourcing program that helps your managers learn and master new ways to engage with teams, oversee projects, and manage quality across multiple geographies, time zones, and cultures.
2. The difference that makes a difference
Although most people expect globalization challenges due to language differences, few would predict challenges due to cultural differences. Yet, it’s remarkably easy for misunderstandings to result from strong but unseen differences in cultural values. In the West, for example, debate is often a key part of problem-solving. By exploring disagreements constructively, people can often make better, more informed decisions. Many Eastern cultures, however, avoid conflict. Acceptance and respect for others is so highly valued that even asking questions or responding negatively to a request can be considered impolite. These are not simply differences in behavior; however. They are also differences in expectation, which is where problems arise. Many Western project managers expect team members to question what they don’t understand, just as they expect people to communicate concerns about meeting requested timeframes. If they hold these cultural expectations in an environment where they don’t apply, however, they’re likely to mistake “no news” for “good news”. You can avoid or minimize issues by helping managers and staff become aware of their own cultural communication habits and expectations and instilling communication skills and techniques that operate effectively within specific cultures.
3. How to keep hurdles from becoming obstacles
Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, we see a subtle distinction. A “hurdle” is a predictable challenge that can be leapt and left behind, while an “obstacle” is a barrier that prevents or delays progress. Obstacles are typically experienced when companies enter into outsourcing without a willingness to take a fresh look at how they operate. They hold on to the familiar comfort of localized management models and loosely defined processes, unable to see the role that these preferences play in the repeated issues they experience. Hurdle-leapers experience the same issues, of course. The difference is that they use each issue to reflect on how they operate. They question their assumptions and expectations, and improve their communications and processes. The most successful companies know exactly what changes are required of them, and they use benchmarks and structured approaches to manage, measure, and improve their performance.
4. You can get what you pay for, and then some
The best business interactions profit all parties involved. They work because they enable an exchange in which each party walks away with something of value. We employ this dynamic when we bring our car to the mechanic, or seek the advice of a doctor or lawyer. In each case, and countless others, we are paying for more than that person’s time; we’re paying for skills and expertise. We’re leveraging others to provide us with something we cannot so easily provide ourselves. As obvious and familiar as this dynamic seems, it is surprisingly uncommon in the context of corporate outsourcing. All too often, many companies look only to their outsourcing arrangements to provide them what they can already provide themselves. They believe the value is simply the cost differential. Successful outsourcers, in contrast, recognize that providers often have additional skills, knowledge, and best-practice exposure. They structure their relationship and interactions to leverage this additional value in ways that improve operational productivity and quality.
5. Your employees will thank you
Companies that successfully globalize operations are often surprised at how positively their employees react. Although it often takes time for that to happen, employees may be cynical or feel threatened at first, for all the obvious reasons. But once they get past their initial concerns, they typically see the positive results and recognize how they are benefiting. In an organization where the IT department is outsourcing their IT development and support activities, an IT application developer relates a story. He has expressed the value of having a global service provider's team in India who is responsible for the maintenance and support of IT applications and beeper support. In the past, the developer was interrupted several times for support during the night and was also expected to be productive during standard business hours. He is no longer responsible for beeper support; the team from India is responsible. The IT application developer is now working on a strategic development project with new technologies within his company. He admitted that when the India team initially became responsible for beeper support, he was concerned about the risk of such a big change. He now understands the value of outsourcing. Successful companies live by the adage that a rising tide lifts all boats. They ensure that their employees benefit from globalization, and recognize that the best advocates of change are those who have seen – and made – it work themselves.
6. The new economics of experience and expertise
Given the changing dynamic of the global marketplace, companies, now more than ever, are required to streamline their operations and reduce costs to remain competitive and position themselves for success. Whether you are initiating, expanding, or improving your outsourcing program, you can leverage our experience and expertise to achieve cost savings and improve operations. Grealy Globalization offers access to a global network of best-in-class service providers from domestic locations and several emerging markets. We will help you identify, explore and evaluate business opportunities with appropriate partners, and stand by your side as a trusted and objective advisor. We will also help you define and implement your globalization program internally, institutionalizing each of the best-practice secrets we described above. To learn more about how you can leverage our experience and expertise to meet your globalization goals, please contact us.
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