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When Will Outsourcing Grow Up?
 

When Will Outsourcing Grow Up?

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Most IT sourcing decisions are still functionally-focused. Even worse still, ...

Most IT sourcing decisions are still functionally-focused. Even worse still,
they are often the domain of the IT department to decide, according to their concern for
their individual performance measures and technology biases at the time.

In order to grow up, IT sourcing innovators must break this tactical decision-making
process and encompass the extended enterprise.

This paper reviews the lessons for success and how to get there.

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    When Will Outsourcing Grow Up? When Will Outsourcing Grow Up? Presentation Transcript

    • ©2003 Walter Adamson Page 1 When will outsourcing grow up? “By the end of the first year, more than 50 percent of the companies that have outsourced major IT functions are unhappy with their outsourcers, according to an informal survey of my clients. By the end of the second year, 70 percent are unhappy. Studies by DiamondCluster International Inc. and PA Consulting Group have also uncovered significant amounts of dissatisfaction with outsourcing deals.” Bart Perkins1 The considerable investment of money and enormous investment of time and attention given to outsourcing has unfortunately not been matched by satisfaction. Surveys consistently show that between 30 and 50% of executives indicate disappointment in the results of their investment in outsourcing. Outsourcing is by no means new, and some firms have achieved outstanding results in terms of business improvement. What are the lessons from the firms that have succeeded and from those that have performed poorly? Lessons from the strongest performers include these: • Analysing trade-offs for IT sourcing holistically. What does this mean? It means involve purchasing, sales, engineering, manufacturing and top management in IT outsourcing decisions; • Tracking well-defined metrics. The metrics should be a combination of business-oriented metrics and also easily benchmarked global metrics for the base and commodity services and pricing; and • Sharing forecasts with their outsourcers. Forecasting, and its impact on IT services, is difficult. But by doing so many surprises and mismatches in performance and expectations can be avoided. However the biggest single root cause of success in companies that are satisfied with their outsourcing is that they set IT sourcing policies strategically. Conversely, the failure by companies to set IT sourcing strategically has led to much of the disappointment among executives today about IT outsourcing. First and foremost a company must set its strategic objectives and then establish IT sourcing policies to meet them. This naturally leads to the question: • “What is the best source for every IT service to meet our objectives?” However, where things go wrong, and where companies leave IT sourcing to a tactical or departmental level, the question that reverberates in the corridors is: • “What do I have in IT that seems appropriate for outsourcing?” ! quot; # $% ' ( % % +$% * !$ ! &( )* (+ adamson@digitalinvestor.com.au Original published at: www.digitalinvestor.com.au November 2003 Digital Investor | 5/45 William St, Melbourne, Australia | Tel: 0500-500-321
    • ©2003 Walter Adamson Page 2 Starting from the first question focuses on customers, because a firm’s strategy will focus on customers. Starting with the second question relegates IT sourcing to an internal focus, generally with little cross-functional involvement, and thus missing the holistic approach. Thus the second approach necessarily delivers limited benefits. These latter efforts fall short in satisfaction because they do not challenge, and support, the cross-functional processes inside the company. They focus on performance gains, often just cost-performance gains, within the existing limitations of IT services. It is a decade since the publication of Michael Hammer and James Champy’s Reengineering the Corporation, and focusing on cross-functional processes has become the norm today in such disciplines as supply chain management. This has also bought about the concept of the “extended enterprise” and leaders in the field take a broad strategic perspective of their enterprise. In contrast, most IT sourcing decisions are still functionally-focused. Even worse still, they are often the domain of the IT department to decide, according to their concern for their individual performance measures and technology biases at the time. In order to grow up, IT sourcing innovators must break this tactical decision-making process and encompass the extended enterprise. Leaders, such as Cisco, have even coined a new term for this strategic approach in order to distance it from the failed tactical model. Cisco’s John Chambers calls it “outtasking”. The focus in “outtasking” is for a firm to fully extend itself into its partners’ business systems, while retaining tight control of its own core systems architecture and data architecture and standards. The value chains are highly synchronised. John Chambers, as CEO of Cisco, frequently espouses this operating philosophy and it is clear that he is deeply involved in such decisions. A recent study by Booze Allen Hamilton found that CEOs can play a key role in improving the supply chain. The study found that greater CEO involvement in designing supply chain strategy brought about improved business performance. There is little doubt that in order to improve IT sourcing performance and to lift the rate of satisfaction, CEOs need to participate more actively, pay closer attention, and get more involved. Walter Adamson is Business IT consultant who helps IT service firms make better business with their customers and partners, and CIOs make better business from their IT investments. In 1999 I was asked by BHP Billiton, a global US$19b resources business, to architect a new IT sourcing strategy for the next decade – despite the fact that the company controlled the largest Australian-owned IT services business with 2000 employees. I recommended a radical departure from the previous decade, and that strategy forms the basis of the current arrangements. If you are responsible for IT in your organisation you might like to read my CIO Business Innovation Series of white papers, available for free at my website. You can call me on +61(403)345-632 for unbiased and objective advice about out-tasking strategies, audits, and implementations. adamson@digitalinvestor.com.au Original published at: www.digitalinvestor.com.au November 2003 Digital Investor | 5/45 William St, Melbourne, Australia | Tel: 0500-500-321