Don’t Outsource Your Problems: How Good Processes Mean Good Outcomes

The Business Process Services Marriage | Part 1

As an industry, both on the client and vendor sides, we’re often not prepared to acknowledge problems arising in the outsourcing journey. But like any relationship, outsourcing requires commitment on both sides and a willingness to work through difficulties.

During a two-part blog series, we’ll explore the ups and the downs outsourcing, and more importantly, what each party needs to do for the relationship to thrive and bring benefits to both.

Be Prepared

A few years ago during an industry conference, a senior executive from a large pharma company gave a wonderful presentation, titled “Don’t Outsource Your Problems.” What he meant by that is if your internal processes are not finalized or solidified, if you are subject to consistent change, and you then hand that off to an outsourcing partner and expect them to perform miracles, you’re set for problems. Unfortunately, you see the cycle of your problems keep repeating themselves.

Business process services (BPS) can and does provide life sciences companies with highly skilled experts, while at the same time removing costs from the company. However, in order to outsource to a third party, you need to provide your BPS vendor with the types of tools that allow them to manage your needs – job aids, work lists and records, standard operating procedures (SOPs), and so on.

Problems arise when the company and functions seeking help either don’t know what they want, don’t understand what is missing, and lack clear SOPs. While the institutional knowledge about processes exists, too often these are in the heads of the internal teams and not formally documented. Not only does this situation make outsourcing problematic, it also is extremely risky when those with the knowledge move to other functions or, worse yet, other companies.

So the first step is to clearly document and share your SOPs and work records.

Clear Governance

Also instrumental to a successful outsourcing relationship is governance and communication. Your BPS vendor doesn’t know what you are thinking, they don’t know the internal workings of your company or function (or at least not until the relationship has matured), and they can’t fix your problems unless you document what those are.

Undoubtedly, a good BPS vendor can manage your business process re-engineering for you, but they would need to be contracted to do so, and you would still need to communicate your requirements.

Besides communication and governance, you also need to ensure you are set up to enable an outsourcing model. Can your vendor use your technology, and are your systems set up for remote access?

Many companies and their BPS vendors recognize these essential ingredients to success and are working hard to mitigate potential issues or overcome challenges if they arise. But both the vendor and the client side has experienced those seemingly intractable problems – poorly documented processes, refusal to change what’s not working, not knowing how to change or poor alignment.

Successful BPS relationships can be game-changers for life sciences companies, so long as processes, governance and communication are properly established.

Learn more about BPS and how to turn it to your advantage by reading our white paper, Business Process Services: A Strategic Enabler

Joe Salamon is a Client Relationship Executive at DXC Technology.

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