Getting your Outsourcing and Offshoring right using HR
Over the last decade in particular, HR (Human Resources) has been pushed by the business to prove its worth and value in real business terms.
HR having a business hat on is even more crucial in times of business transformation.
Offshoring and outsourcing are classic examples of this business change, is HR ready to pull the right people levers to ensure operational results in this context?
Where does HR fit in?
Offshoring and Outsourcing are business transformation tools pushing the quadrants of the good old balanced scorecard.
Firms engage here to improve their customer experience, financial goals, efficiencies in internal processes, or for innovation and growth.
First responders to this organisational change are senior leaders, corporate lawyers, commercial managers, infrastructure and IT.
Second responders are typically – SMEs and Contact Centre Operations and hopefully HR, who are engaged to feed in key metrics and parameters to shape a project plan, service level agreement (SLA) and contract.
What people metrics does HR provide?
Now the quality and timing of the engagement with HR really depends on whether the HR Head has a seat at the business table (and a real influencing one) and this HR Head knows his or her stuff.
At this stage in the transformation in the last 10 years from my experiences, more often than not, the engagement has been with a senior HR leader who is not involved in the day-to-day, critical people corridor of recruitment, learning, coaching and growing leadership.
Or the engagement is with the right HR team and Head, however they dont have the statistics or metrics collected to predict people performance in offshoring or outsourcing scenarios.
What is the outcome of this scenario?
The contracts, KPIs, SLAs, Salaries, Training Calendars etc. scoped are based on unclear or unrealistic information with operational and HR teams now committed to execute misaligned business plans with little support and all the spotlight from the business on their performance.
Offshoring and outsourcing then often gets branded with negative comments and reduced business confidence, especially from those who thought it would never work anyway.
What can be done differently?
HR can start by asking the right people and business questions, answering them honestly and being brave enough to halt, negotiate or call out risks to a project to ensure its success.
The assumption here is that HR is engaged upfront and is in a position to influence.
- Why are we offshoring or outsourcing? Know what business impact your organisation is trying to make, what is the goal it is cost saving and customer experience? How then do you align your people processes to meet these strategic goals?
- What location or which vendor partner are we engaging to outsource or offshore? Do your due diligence here. Can they source and deliver on the people areas of recruitment, learning, coaching and good leadership?
- Are our learning programs and documentation sound? Can we teach the business processes, call types or tasks that we are giving to an outsource or offshore partner so they can competently talk to our customers?
- If you cant do this immediately, then stop trying to operationalize all the other arms of the project, get this piece right first.
- Is our talent acquisition for the quality of staff we need near perfect? Or do we at least have the ability to hold our recruitment partners accountable when they dont deliver near perfect people?
- Are our KPIs solid and can our leadership deliver (both internally and offshored/outsourced leaders)?
If you have these areas right, feed this data with proper metrics into your plan and continuously measure all the people angles: turnover, your customer experience, recruitment processes, learning transfer, leadership and coaching for performance.
While it is not HRs total responsibility, HR does have an obligation to provide the right parameters and support as custodians of People and Culture.
You may well be saying: This is not rocket science as one client said to me recently.
I asked him why then, there were consistent gaps in the people areas of outsourcing and offshoring?
Our discussion led us to two conclusions:
1. The gaps exist because we are dealing with people and People are not black and white.
2. While not rocket science, it comes down to execution and continuously keeping people engaged to deliver on organisational goals, especially when they sit at a vendor site – this is the hard part.
Recommended reading: The Keys to Successful Outsourcing
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