11 Outsourcing Resolutions You Should Make in 2011

Outsourcing customers play a huge role in the success or failure of any project. Here are 11 expert tips to get more from your deals in 2011, with less stress.

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Resolution #5: I will say what I mean.

If you're not partnering to implement, paradigm shift, you're thinking outside the box to implement mission critical processes. Put down the buzzword bingo card. There's nothing like exactitude and candor in getting what you want from a vendor. In keeping with keeping it simple, start by eliminating just a couple of imprecise and overused terms for now.

"Stop using the word 'innovation' and use the word that is really meant," suggests Joseph King, CMO for outsourcer Mindtree, "whether it's cost savings, productivity improvement, outcome-based pricing, et cetera."

And consider eliminating the word "cloud" for your vocabulary, says Lee Ann Moore, EquaTerra's CMO, unless you're talking about the weather. Instead of resorting to the c-word, says Bob Cecil, executive director of EquaTerra's business and financial advisory. "Describe the offering for what it really is—SaaS, platform SaaS, business process as a Service, or private network."

Resolution #6: I won't believe the hype.

Approach new cloud-based services the way you would any other IT service option. Resist the urge to jump if you don't know what you're getting into, advises Edward J. Hansen, New-York based partner for Baker & McKenzie. "It is an interesting new service not a silver bullet," says independent sourcing consultant Mark Ruckman. Repeat this for every hot new emerging technology, process, or service you're vendor is hawking next year.

Resolution #7: I will create rules and live by them.

Make it a point not only to conduct regular governance reviews of your outsourcing deals, but actually attend the meetings, advises Vashistha of Neo Advisory. If you're paying a third party to do this work for you, consider letting them go. You'll save money and be more involved. "Stop blowing large chunks of your budget on expensive consultants to do work your own team can do," says Fersht of HfS Research.

Resolution #8: I will pay attention to my bills.

When's the last time you read—and completely understood—your outsourcing invoice? "By year three, invoices degenerate into a fifteen-page laundry list of indecipherable statements of work, metrics and charges which only one person on your team really understands," says Sanda Partners' Strichman. It shouldn't be that way. "Force your vendor to consolidate it, rework it, and provide something that makes sense [given] your current situation," Strichman says. You'll be surprised how many charges were misunderstood, out of date, or inaccurate and the exercise could beget a long overdue conversation about brewing problems.

Resolution #9: I will measure what matters.

Make 2011 the year that you define metrics that are meaningful to the business, says Ruckman, and start tracking and reporting on them regularly. If your WAN is only up 98 percent of the time, and you're still clinging to that 99.99 percent service uptime metric, it's time to rethink your benchmarks. "Stop including imaginary service levels your consultant dreamt up," says Fersht.

Resolution #10: I will seek out the best partner for me.

Simply going with a three-letter brand name outsourcer or advisor isn't always the best move. In fact, it can be a costly mistake. "There is lots of competition in the outsourcing market today," says EquaTerra's Ayling. "You will always find a supplier who has the right capabilities for you, and, where what you spend with them will make you important to them." Take an unsparing look at your vendors and advisors, says Baker & McKenzie's Hansen. If they don't share your core values, show them the door.

Resolution #11: I will have fun.

The economy remains grim. IT and outsourcing are hard. And you haven't seen your budget inch up in three years. "But technology has never been more exciting with mobile apps, social media, and so forth," says Staples of Mindtree. "Use the new technology to bring fun back into your organization and energize your business for growth."

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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