by Russell Jones, commIT

Always the Fall Guy: Offshore Vendor, Onshore Doomsday

Mar 11, 20093 mins

When outsourcing IT support, these tips will show you how to win acceptance and influence the right people for successful vendor management and end user satisfaction. (Part 1 of 3)

You’re riding a rollercoaster of change. Technology changes. Your company changes. Your bosses change, and your objectives change. Moore’s law isn’t always your friend. You have a challenging, important career—but you constantly race against the clock, the odds and the budget, to deliver. You work 60-, 80-, even 100-hour weeks. You travel. You neglect your family. You forget your toothbrush. Rather than receive a hero’s welcome, you are often punished for the smallest problems. Factor in a huge outsourcing decision and there’s bound to be trouble.

Fall Guy or Hero?

Diabol Inc., the consumer products company you work for, is undertaking a massive IT services change. For years, Diabol’s employees, your end-users, have enjoyed in-house IT support: local help desks, site-based techs, one-on-one support, and other personalized services.

Now, these have grown too expensive. They’re being replaced by a large outsourcer—with some services (like the help desk)—moving offshore.

As an IT program director, service owner, or executive sponsor of this initiative, you know that this is the right move for Diabol. You’ve calculated the savings, selected a vendor, ironed out a 200-page contract—and hand picked your project team. But you are not in control of the transition timeline.

A wrong move can result in program disruption—stakeholder roadblocks, frustrated users and delays. Worse, you’ll fall short of your objectives, overshoot your budget, and risk your bonus!

Get it right, save the company a bundle, keep customers happy, and be a hero.

The vendor is chosen, the contract is signed and the transition begins. Suddenly there’s a lot to explain:

  • Special favors, preferential treatment will disappear.
  • The new help desk personnel speak English—but as a second language.
  • The cost savings for IT means your users may have to wait minutes (versus seconds) for their help desk calls to be answered, hours (versus minutes) for follow-up calls to be returned, and days (versus hours) for a technician to show up.
  • Smaller sites will feel it worse—losing dedicated personnel.
  • Known, trusted technicians may be replaced.

Somehow, all of this is your fault…but there is no turning back.

Someone will have to break the news of these changes to end-users, manage expectations, handle the “feedback”, and ultimately influence end-user behavior. That someone is you. You are the “Communications Team” along with someone from HR, and you’re both stretched to your limits.

We’d like your feedback about what you would do in this situation. The first 10 reasonable responses will receive a $20 gift certificate. You could use it for lots of caffeine at your favorite coffee emporium, for music downloads so you can drown out the complaints, or you could spend it on supply of travel toothbrushes Please send us your thoughts about the following:

  • Who would you put in charge of managing the communications?
  • What would be your stakeholder message about the change?
  • What do you do with all the (inevitable) outcries when things don’t work well?
  • Should the CIO of Diabol, Inc. be fired?

Please share your experiences, ideas, and strategies, they will form the basis of our next article. Email us and stay tuned for parts 2 and 3!

Russell Jones is president of commIT, a consulting firm that specializes in helping IT groups communicate about initiatives and the many challenges of change.