Outsourcing

Is outsourcing good for the outsourced? It (of course) depends.

I recently read Advice Line by Bob Lewis in which he provided some advice to the recently outsourced. It led me review my own experiences in that arena. I have never personally been outsourced – but I’ve lived through two separate efforts.

Although more then a decade separated both outsourcing initiatives, the experience was eerily similar. I’ve grown older, more introspective and don’t take things as personally as I used to. The first outsourcing event occured at the request of the CEO. It was done without the involvement of the IT management organization and we were all very upset. I was not in management at the time but I felt those who were – were wronged. In hindsight it’s clear IT management was not inspiring confidence. That’s business and a lesson to all of us.

If you can’t lead your function and instill confidence in your executive team, all of your objections amount to little more then waiving your arms. The outsourcing firm (names removed to protect the innocent – or not so) arranged it so that revenue opportunities were promised if the function was outsourced. At the end of the ordeal (and yes it was an ordeal) only a portion of the function was outsourced. The outsourcing firm’s promises of revenue were only that.

Those of us in the IT function were full of righteous indignation. Ignorant executives had sold a core competence of the function and received little in return. Service levels were a challenge to maintain as those outsourced were either let go or transitioned in to other roles.

A second more recent outsourcing effort has been handled much better. It is the result of the IT function’s objectives. Service levels have been impacted but for the most part everyone has tried hard to make it work. Our company is a fairly cynical one in some regards so it’s not surprising that some stories about the outsourcing take on a life of their own as they are retold by business managers.

As dissimilar as the outsourcing efforts were, the common thread in both was that if you were someone who looks for challenges and could accept change then outsourcing was a profitable experience. If you needed to stay with your current experiences and skills and spent your time resenting the decisions of others then the experience was a painful one.

The parable of “Who Moved My Cheese” applies to all of us and is almost universally good advice. If you are the IT associate outsourced it is carries the most important advice.