Don’t just take my word for it, but constantly reassessing how HRO is working for you can lead to the best results. Just ask the wrestling guru.
Remember the old adage that things come in threes? This week I was reminded of it when asked to collaborate on a career counseling course to always encourage those who have been entrusted to our care (and professional expertise) to seek the advice of others.
Coincidentally, I received a great e-mail from the brilliant Mike Beygelman (founding executive director of the HROA), who diplomatically shared his disagreement with my column from last month. Then, as the third piece in this puzzle, I finally took the time to read an article on IT outsourcing in a recent Wall Street Journal supplement (January 29), entitled “Outside Chance; Why outsourcing IT often doesn’t save as much as it could.”
The reason I link all three is that this is one more opportunity to remind all of us to never stop learning and critically thinking about our own assumptions and beliefs. I will never forget the time I was at the headquarters of the World Wrestling Federation (now the WWE) when Vince McMahon started a senior
management meeting with the comment that cartoon show South Park was the most creative show on TV (he didn’t say it, but I am sure he meant second to only his own). Three weeks later, when he mentioned the show again, he asked for other people’s opinions. Many around his table voiced that it was indeed a great and truly creative show, only to be mortified by his comment that he had given up on it and didn’t like it anymore.
The point is he constantly reevaluates his very strong opinions and is quick to change them whenever he sees fit. We all would be wise to do the same. So I recently encouraged my students to seek everyone’s opinion on career advice and weigh my comments and suggestions with others to determine which make the most sense in their opinion.
As for Beygelman, he promised an alternative view on recruitment outsourcing in this month’s column, so please read it (p. 72) and compare it with mine in the last issue. Feel free to determine which makes the most sense to you. (Quite frankly, I suspect that since he did not share the article with me beforehand, there is not as much difference as he contends.)
Finally, as for the WSJ article, Joe Hogan, VP of strategic sourcing programs at Unisys with 26 years of IT outsourcing experience (much longer than the
average life of ITO contracts), underscored a number of lessons garnered over the years. Among the learnings: before signing the outsourcing contract, the person taking ownership of the arrangement needs to ask what (s)he wants to accomplish by the end of the outsourcing contract.
To ensure that the arrangement achieves the expected savings, consider these four basic principles:
• First, manage your own expectations to define the services the outsourcer will provide, how timely you expect delivery, and at what cost.
• Second, everyone involved needs to understand what it will take to meet those expectations.
• Third, make sure that everyone understands who is responsible for what, including the organization, HR, and the outsourcer.
• Fourth, the organization needs to be able to measure performance from the outsourcing arrangement, and any changes in performance need to be documented with those changes communicated to everyone involved in setting the original expectations.
Although saving money always needs to be a factor (and I would add even if that means spending more), always keep searching for other benefits such as adjustments to technology costs due to changes in the economic climate, access to research and new technology, and new knowledge that the outsourcer brings.
The point I am trying to make is that regardless of your reasons for outsourcing, the key is to constantly reassess those reasons. First, remind yourself the primary reasons for embarking on HRO in the first place, and more importantly, reconfirm that your initial reasons continue to be valid. Circumstances may have radically changed either due to forces in your own organization (for example, a merger, a restructuring, or both) or forces outside (the outsource provider has decided to refocus its business or has become part of a larger organization—for instance the recent change in HR outsourcing business focus at Mellon). In short, never stop learning.