As outsourcing moves up the value ladder in organizations, so do the complexities of outsourcing services. It is no longer just service delivery but a partnership between the organization and outsourcing provider. This is why a collaborative environment is key to gaining success in outsourcing partnerships.
Companies have acknowledged this as 66 percent cited the need for creating a structure for collaboration as the most important action they need to undertake to motivate desired actions or results in outsourcing relationships according to the Outsourcing Center’s Outsourcing Excellence Awards Program in 2010.
Building a Collaborative Environment
Collaboration in outsourcing doesn’t just include “brainstorming”, or having the company and outsourcing provider discussing their ideas to the table. It isn’t talking to each other across the table, it’s talking with each other on the same side of the table, discussing ideas, developing plans and mapping out action steps to achieve goals.
This requires mutual trust and needs to start at the beginning of a partnership. This is why participants of the study agreed that an outsourcing provider that looks for a long-term relationship firsthand and has a track record of positive collaborative work with other clients should rank high when considering looking for a partner. The same perspective applies from the outsourcing provider. They need to look for organizations that look for partners, not just vendors.
Acknowledging that achieving success is a shared responsibility and mutual investment is required are keys to effectively building a fruitful collaborative environment.
How to Sustain a Collaborative Environment
Once you have built a collaborative environment, sustaining it is crucial to ensure outsourcing relationship success.
1. Periodically assess the level of mutual trust in the outsourcing relationship. Effective communication is foundation for a good collaborative environment and trust is the key to it. It is willingness to share information with each other to build win-win outcomes.
2. When business needs are misaligned, realign interests that are mutually beneficial with each other. Both parties stand to lose their projected return of investment if they behave opportunistically toward each other because their interests are no longer aligned.
3. Meet with each other regularly to share issues, agree on how to resolve them and how to further collaborate for improvements.
4. Respect each other’s capabilities and evolving needs.
5. Remember that team members are often more accountable to each other than to a company. This accountability should be maintained for collaboration. You are accountable to one another.
6. Find middle ground when handling conflicts by making sure to listen to each other’s point of view.
7. Have a dedicated person or team member from each party who will be responsible in focusing on the collaborative aspects of the relationship, identifying and resolving any obstacles or issues that may arise.
8. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments as little as they may be, as a team. Pat each other’s backs for a job well done.
The Impact of a Collaborative Environment in an Outsourcing Relationship
When an outsourcing relationship is in a collaborative environment, it thrives. It gives way to business transformation, from increasing bottom-line savings to top-line growth strategies, in terms of profit and management.
Innovation results from a fruitful collaboration. When both parties have mutual trust with one another, information flows freely, allowing them to discuss, plan, strategize and achieve mutual success, which translates to greater ROI.
A collaborative environment cultivates interdependence but also allows them to look beyond their shared interests. For it to be successful, both parties need to keep investing in the relationship to sustain it.
It takes time, effort and money to build and sustain a collaborative environment, but it is worth it.