Effective outsourcing is one of the significant areas, an IT Manager should concentrate on, if he/she aims to achieve the best ROI from an Outsourcing Partner. While there are various techniques that would facilitate an effective outsourcing, there are also problem-areas that should be taken care of, to have a successful outsourcing.
This blog is more from my own experience on different projects. The challenges occur at different stages and Lot of questions might arise during the course of project execution. Listed below are the answers to some of those questions in mind and possible solutions to fix them.
Challenge 1: “The one shown to me is not what I wanted. Why is this?” – Due to “Improper Specifications”
Most of the issues faced during execution stems from the lack of clarity in defining the specifications. The later it is detected, higher will be the impact. This can be averted by:
- Ask for a clear definition of In-scope and Out-Of-Scope items by the vendor
- Have Scope definitions mutually agreed in the beginning of the project execution. This will help in managing scope changes better.
Challenge 2: “It does not work here. Vendor says it works perfectly fine. Why is it taking more time than anticipated to be resolved? ” – Due to “ Inadequate Infrastructure”
There may be lot of initial hitches in setting up the infrastructure for the vendor, when you are just beginning to work with them. Inadequate infrastructure may cause delays in the schedules of the project. A Vendor may not be able to completely resolve an issue that is happening at the customer site, unless he/she gets to work at it directly.
- Provide additional infrastructure like Remote desktop access, credentials for network access, access to several resources etc.. to the vendor to execute the project.
- In the process, there will be challenges when your existing policies & procedures does not allow you to do so. So alternate methods/models need to be defined for setting up a productive environment for the vendor, which is in-line with the existing policies and guidelines.
Challenge 3: “Am not aware of this issue at all. What’s happening??” – Due to “Lack of Communication/Coordination”
In most outsourced projects, communication/coordination plays a vital role in keeping the stakeholders informed on project updates. Gaps in communication may lead to unnecessary confusions and expectation mis-matches, that will culminate as critical issues/blockers, when ignored. This can be addressed by defining proper communication channels and reporting structure:
- Ask for a Communication Protocol from the vendor, that clearly defines the primary, secondary and escalation contact points at the vendor site.
- Ask for weekly progress reports from the vendor that lists activities for the reporting period, mention of issues to be addressed, schedule slippages (if any) etc..
- Have a Weekly/Bi-Weekly/Monthly/Bi-monthly stand-ups with vendor to have regular check on the project progress, status of defined milestones etc… The frequency of stand-ups will vary depending on the nature/criticality of the project
Challenge 4: “My Vendor has given a hefty bill to make a small change. Cannot agree” – Due to “Lack of awareness of your involvement for the project”
During the course of project execution, Customer’s involvement will be required at various stages to validate screens, sign-off on changes, review and provide comments, respond to queries/issues, perform acceptance testing etc. . These tasks would take some of your time, which when un-attended seriously impact the progress of the project. This can be effectively handled by:
- Ask for a project plan from the vendor, that clearly indicates your involvement in various stages of the project.
- Keep a tab on the list of action items and the dates, for which you are responsible.
- Make yourself available for the meetings and reviews and respond within the stipulated time to avoid delays.
Promptly act on action items to avoid increased costs. For example, if you are required to give feedbacks on an intermediate deliverable, do so. It is easy to incorporate small changes in approval flow in an “In-progress” state than on a “Completed” state. Indentifying that small change itself after completion of the flow, might represent itself as a Change Request, which would add to your costs.