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Managing your outsourcing service provider better…11 tips for the road

Outsourcing is the new trend in today’s world of ‘smart’ business. Having said so, you might be wondering who are outsourcing service providers? According to Philip Romero, a information systems auditor- outsourcing service provider is ‘any person or entity that maintains, processes, or otherwise is permitted access to perform services for a company, but is not directly employed by the company.’

Managing your outsourcing service provider is crucial. You need to be on the same wave length as them in nearly all the areas if you seek perfection. Here are 11 helpful tips on how to improve and manage your outsourcing service providers better.

The ones we’re all aware of: 

  1. Be friendly - Empathy, patience and consistency. All these need to be in place when dealing with service providers as some may be irritating and over curious. You must know how to handle all of them and how to get the best out of them. Don’t overreact to anything small like a mistake or even someone struggling to understand something.

2. Communication: um, hello, hi – Make sure you communicate as clear as possible as you don’t want to have to repeat yourself or have any misunderstandings. Lack of responsiveness can be seen as lack of seriousness by service providers, and can only harm an outsourced relationship.

3. Recording all the benefits as they are delivered - Benefits management can ensure success in the eyes of both yours and the service providers. By preparing a benefits realisation plan, you can show how and when they will be achieved and who will deliver them.

  1. Task management - Make sure the tasks are set out accordingly. Don’t give out tasks with unrealistic time frames. If you want something done well, don’t rush them. But also don’t let them take you for granted. Imagine JD Sports PLC wanted to hire 2 new employees for their new and upcoming branch and they were given 3 days to do so. Do you not think this requirement is unrealistic? Maybe if they were given 3 weeks it could be done. It’s true, you agree with me right? When hiring someone it can take time as you need to check that they meet all the requirements!
  1. Always start by defining the business needs then move onto technical requirements – Make sure all the needs to run the business are up to scratch before moving onto other more intense technical stuff like website changes and outbound calls. It’s like asking McDonalds’ service provider to set up a website and a mobile phone application but in reality, not having a store opened up or even purchased any ingredients. You have to make sure you’ve set the foundations and got all the basics done with all the needs rather than wants first.

6. Devote the necessary time and resources - This can improve your service management. By doing so, you'll be able to better manage your service team and respond to service tickets quickly and efficiently.  Again this relates to task management as you need to make sure the business has the right equipment and resources available before they set out to do the tasks required. Think about it, if JD Sports PLC was hiring someone, they would need application forms sent out to applicants. They would need to schedule time to read through the applications, bear in mind it could be hundreds applying for one job role. And how about the time it takes for interviews and actually selection the applicant.

 

The not so obvious ones:

7. Understanding the depth of the relationships your firm has established – Know where you stand in the situation. Smaller firms may only deal with a few outsourcing companies. Larger, more established business firms are likely to be involved with a host of service providers that are managing needs across different departments like operations and finances.

 8. Being mindful and respectful of everyone’s time zone – Working with other service providers from different countries and using the time change effectively. Make sure that when working together or having a meeting, the time for both parties is suitable. Try and take advantage of the time change as projects can be finished quicker as you may be working with businesses that are still working or starting work when you finish. An example could be if you were working with a team in India; who are 5 hours in front; you would have to make sure that meeting times and other group work schedules work for both of you equally. On the other hand working with a service provider from India can also bring benefits as mentioned as they could start working at 9am in the morning which is actually 4am UK time, which probably means your sleeping.

9. Help the outsourced party understand your business and goals – it’s all to do with how you share the important elements of your business, your customers, your business processes and your people. If you let the providers know the goals and targets when you start, the team will be able to work towards it and put maximum effort in to completing it. Saying on a Monday your weekly goals is more respected and motivating compared to saying on a Wednesday your weekly targets. This will get employees worked up and de-motivate them as they will be thinking about how it may be unrealistic this late in the week whereas if it was said earlier on like a Monday it would have been a reasonable aim and they would have worked towards it. Don’t you think so?

  1. Dealing with governance - essential to review performance and deal with escalations that could cause potential dispute. Whilst a contract should always have carefully constructed break clauses and termination rightsa sound governance process should prevent these mechanisms from ever being executed. This way they service providers can’t try and outsmart you in any way or form.
  1. Deployment and benefits realisation - Provide specialist expertise assistance with keeping Service Providers on track. Can also provide on-tap coaching and mentoring. Imagine Barclays outsourcing as they need help with advertising, would you not want to know that they are getting the correct and best help available?

Jumping to the conclusion...

Above are 11 tips on what to improve on and look at when outsourcing services to providers. Some are more important than others. But that doesn’t mean those are to be ignored. These tips will help you in the future as well as the present I hope. Don’t you think so? It’s interesting that only so many of these tips are being used at the moment. Look out for these ‘key’ markers when you would like to outsource your business process to outsourcers.