Global Outsourcing

>> Why Talent and Human Resource Management is key during the Global Outsourcing process.

Once the decision is taken to embark on a transformational programme such as Global Outsourcing, and everyone from C-level to team member has understood the importance and risk of the programme and their specific role in the project, we enter the phase of execution. At this juncture, the impact of the plans on the teams and the human challenges they present will become magnified and if not planned for and managed well can derail even the most carefully thought-out of projects.    Getting these elements right is critical and, if not managed with focus and agility on a daily basis, will represent potentially the biggest headache for the project leadership

Key issues to consider at this stage are:

  • Secondments: It is clear that global outsourcing programmes will cause a certain level of individual and team stress, often merely through fear and mistrust of the unknown. These challenges can be reduced through implementing cultural awareness and mentoring training but additionally, and critical to the success of the programme, is the development of a secondment plan – sending people to and from the chosen outsourcing entity.  This not only facilitates process transfer but will also facilitate the development of the necessary cross-company relationships, cultural awareness and basic trust in the partnership – a trust which is so often missing at the outset such projects.

Central to the success of any good secondment plan is buy-in from senior leadership and team members who will need to offer up their best people to be 100 % committed to the programme – whilst at the same time maintaining the delivery or service levels of the current environment. It will require a great deal of “hands-on” flexibility and agility from the project team to adapt the secondment plan to the real-life requirements of the programme as it evolves.

It is also really important to choose secondment candidates carefully – not only do they need to be process experts but simultaneously have to be ambassadors for the company, the programme and in addition need to be culturally aware. This combination of skills is a rarity in most companies and finding this combination in an often “threatening” change environment can be difficult.

  • Attrition/Retention: Most carefully planned projects will usually have a workstream on managing attrition in the “home” environment – however it is important to think about this in the outsourced / offshored environment as well. Often, due to language or differing management styles or simply a set of cultural blockages, people will decide this programme is not for them and move on – particularly if the local labour market is tight. If the focus on attrition is “undercooked” then it can be a major cause of programme failure due not just to a lack of resources but can also potentially lead to spiralling programme costs with extra training, additional secondments and additional replacement resources all required both at home and in the new environment.

An area of specific focus should be potential attrition of key skillsets in the “home” environment (which long term may be a desired outcome) but attention to retaining these key skillsets in the transition phase is fundamental to the delivery of the programme due to the criticality of process knowledge as a success factor for the project. Keeping on top of this is hugely important and specific HR programmes to hold on to these key skillsets through reward schemes and the structured management of each individual involved will be necessary.

It is also extremely important to have retention plans for key leaders in the organisation, some of whom may feel disenchanted and at risk. – and even the project leadership which is 100% focussed on delivering a successful programme may well have some concerns for their ownfuture despite the fact they are leading a high impact programme such as this. Once again, specifically tailored career pathing and/or reward schemes are important here and special care will be needed if the individual leading the project has already been identified as a C level leader of the future or is critical to the client base.

  • Outplacement: During the project execution phase there will normally already be a plan for a certain level of workforce reduction in the “home“ environment. This, as we have said before, will create a level of uncertainty and fear which is understandable and has to be managed well if it is not to derail the project. A key element to managing this risk well is a carefully designed outplacement programme for those concerned. Teams will want to understand how they or their colleagues will be treated and a well thought-through outplacement programme is essential to keep people as motivated as possible. Additionally, it will help to avoid workplace conflicts both on an individual basis and at the team level. Wherever possible, additional individual and/or team mentoring from an external source is advised to help people accept the consequences of the programme – even if the individuals concerned are not directly affected.

We would love to talk to you further about the importance of human resource management programmes.

Latest version updated 16th November 2017

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