Messages to All Stakeholders

A no-holds-barred forum in which buyers, vendors, and advisors chide each other for their shortcoming to make HRO a better universe for all.

by Scott Golas

The wisdom of the saying, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it,” is so universal that it resonates even in the world of outsourcing. The past in this case, IT outsourcing, has been long, frequently rocky, and often turbulent. But it is not without lessons HRO can learn and benefit from and sidestep a repeat.

I recently spent time gathering information from the marketplace on perceptions of the major HRO industry stakeholders. My “sample pool” was subscribers to my blog, IQcatalyst (— mix of buyers, vendors, and advisors/analysts, and here are
their responses.


Here’s what buyers had to say to advisors:

• “What would really be helpful is understanding the trends within that marketplace and an analysis of industry drivers and benefits quantification.”

• “We need more on vendor capabilities—something more useful than regurgitating a vendor’s brochure copy. Develop and assign standardized competency levels across vendor or domain areas.”   

• “We need a common industry taxonomy or menu of services so we can compare vendor capabilities. Too much time is spent rationalizing terms and definitions. HR suffers from the enormous complexity of the many areas and processes it encompasses.”

Here’s what buyers had to say to vendors:

• “Stop the hype! Exaggerated cost savings claims set unrealistic expectations, especially when little is known about a buyer’s current environment. Human resources [the department] is notorious for its lack of metrics and cost data.”

• “Two staffers in a rented London flat doesn’t mean global! Be realistic about your geographic capabilities.”

Vendors had this to say to buyers:   

• “The rigid RFI/RFP processes that a majority of buyers still uses almost guarantees a sub-optimization of cost savings and potential benefits.”

• “Restricting my operations to certain geographies or excluding me from moving work to alternative (yes, potentially offshore) service delivery centers is counter-productive and limits costs savings and process improvement opportunities.”

Here’s what they also had to say to advisors:

• “Stop the practice of ‘pay for play.’ Asking vendors to share their business development pipeline in return for inclusion on RFP distribution lists is a practice that should end immediately.” (Unfortunately, more than a few vendors had this to say about the advisor community.)

• “Help us facilitate greater access to buyers. The more access we have to collect data and evaluate processes, the more accurate the pricing and appropriate the solutions.”


The advisors stated to buyers:    

• “The earlier the better. Once you have made a decision to pursue alternative sourcing strategies and use a sourcing advisor to assist, bring us in as early as possible to reduce rework and missteps.” 

• “The best advisors bring a history of hundreds of sourcing project with staff capabilities that include former HR practitioners, consultants, outsourcers and, yes, analysts and advisors.” 

• “Assign your best and brightest to the project. Now is not the time to gather up the B-team and keep them busy. Assigning less than your best talent or limiting access to key players is a sure sign you’re not committed to the initiative.”

Here’s what they added to vendors:

• “Stop inflating capabilities. They will quickly be discovered to be, as the software community likes to say, vaporware.” 

• “Having multiple alliances or partnerships in the same subject matter area is confusing and doesn’t allow for the differentiation and competitive advantage a true strategic partnership can create.”

These interviews and responses produced messages many of us in the HRO market should closely consider. I have occasionally chided the HR field for remaining bogged in its past, reticent to take on the role of leveraging overall workforce effectiveness for competitive advantage. It is this untapped, unlimited potential, however, that makes me remain one of its biggest fans. HRO can be the catalyst for moving HR toward redefining itself. I look forward to the feedback and the dialog and solutions that we, as a community with a vested interests in HR and HRO, can develop to further the move.

Tags: Consultants & Advisors, HRO Today Global, Professional Contribution

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