Taking the time to educate and understand your business partners is the key to a prosperous relationship with an outsource company.
November 1, 2000
With the face of business changing so dramatically, outsourcing has become a way of life in our industry. This shift in business strategy has resulted in the reduction of in-house staff and an increase in outsource partnerships.
In order to meet the demands of the workplace in productivity and provide good customer service with less in-house expertise, we must learn to develop successful partnerships with outsource companies.
These partnerships can vary in many ways. You can choose to outsource the entire project or only portions of the project. You may decide to award all of your work to one company or to use a number of companies and divide the work into segments such as project design, management, implementation and closeout documentation.
Throughout my years of experience as a corporate client and end user, I have found that regardless of the amount of outsourced partnerships developed in your company, you should always retain enough of the management portion of any project to avoid losing control or direction. You must keep in mind that an outsource partner probably does not understand your company as well as you do.
For example, a consultant may design a project around a specific user group’s requirements. These requirements are typically based on the type of network and the staff functionality. This sounds like a good idea, but a user may only be aware of immediate requirements, not the corporate direction of the company. A user may base the design around one aspect of the project — the number of users and/or the cost of the project. A good design would include proper support requirements for both trouble and change management, potential corporate direction or user changes, complete as-built documentation, Move, Add and Change processes (MACs), etc.
Each party brings a different set of talents and responsibilities to the table. The corporate client is responsible for a company’s direction, future plans, standards and image. The consultant is responsible for the user requirements, up-to-date technical standards, and project and management experiences developed while running projects. The contractors work within the design framework of the project, and provide feedback and recommendations for change management around installation experiences. The vendors bring the latest products, timely deliveries, product management and expertise to the project. All areas provide escalation contacts and procedures, change management process and process improvement recommendations.
All outsource partners should be able to work together to make sure that every project runs smoothly, on time, within budget, and with proper as-built documentation and customer satisfaction. If any portion of the process is not properly completed, it will have a negative impact on the success of the project.
SELECTING OUTSOURCE PARTNERS
Outsource partnerships can be divided into two main categories, depending on the type of services rendered. The first type consists of design and management — for the bricks and mortar as well as the network architecture portions of new telecom infrastructure installation projects. This type of service would typically result from partnerships with consultants and/or contractors.
The second type of service consists of product knowledge and distribution. This type of service would typically result from partnerships with vendors.
As an owner or owner representative, you must make sure you determine exactly what it is you are looking for from the relationship to ensure that you set up the right business partnerships from the beginning. You need to make sure that your business partners fit the needs of your company, both now and into the future. In addition, your partners need to understand both you and your business requirements in order to provide you with the best possible service.
You must be able to count on all of your business partners to work together as a team in order to produce the proper mix and provide the best possible results for your company. In a successful partnership, everyone has a voice. Teamwork is the only way to get ahead and stay ahead of this ever-changing and fast paced industry.
I have invested a great deal of time in educating my business partners over the years, and they have spent as much time educating me. I believe that the more planning and preparation you put in up front — in both a corporate and technical direction — the less clarification and lost productivity time you will have during the implementation phase of any project. CS
Keith Fortune is Communications Facilities Manager, Corporate Real Estate Division at Bank of Montreal and a member of Cabling Systems’ Editorial Advisory Board.