An outsourcing process is not complete once a service contract is signed. This only denotes the start of business relationship! Consider how factors discussed during the negotiating process may impact the ongoing relationship. Here are some factors to consider when negotiating and after the contract has been signed:
1. Choosing the right outsource partner
We have described in a previous article how to select an outsourcing partner. Once a partner has been selected, the relationship must be managed for success. This is when the real work begins. Once the partner has been selected, all key stakeholders must engage and begin the process of planning a successful partnership.
2. Negotiate terms fairly and in good faith
When negotiating contracts people sometimes think it is about winning. It is, but perhaps not how you might think. It is about a win/win. There are many companies out there who insist on a so called “Pay for Performance” model, where all the risk is placed on the outsourcing partner, and payment is only made on commission basis, usually involving poorly selling products, or products with high rate of returns and/or chargebacks. The outsourcer who will normally take on this kind of work is usually the type of small, poorly funded organization that cannot afford it. This usually results in the failure of the call center as they cannot invest in their employees and infrastructure. When negotiating terms, negotiate in good faith. Discuss expectations and be prepared to understand the other side’s perspective. Provide the call center with a baseline of income, and if commissions are part of the deal, develop a scale that will allow the call center to at least have a guarantee of cost.
3. Establish Technology Platform requirements on both ends
One of the most important keys to multi-site operations is a well-designed, robust and scalable technology platform. When approaching an outsourcing partner, you should approach them with an idea of how you want the program to be implemented. If you have never outsourced before, you may want to have an idea of what your end game is, and allow them to customize a solution that will address your immediate needs and another for projected future needs, without a disruption in business or unjustified costs. In the case of the provider designing a technology solution, set goals and expectations and test vigorously.
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4. Plan implementation and test platform
Spend time documenting expectations. Determine what you require for accessibility, reporting and redundancy. Install and test, test, test, including automated load testing, failover testing and quality of service testing. Throw everything at the system. The worst thing you can do is test in production.
5. Dedicate Proper resources to manage the relationship
In planning your campaign make sure that you plan for and dedicate the proper management and technical resources. While the eventual goal may be freeing up resources, it is critical to have the right resources available, especially in the planning and implementation phase of your campaign. Part of the planning should be resource allocation for the duration of the relationship. Resource allocation will depend on the level of day to day operations management you want.
6. Plan coordination
Coordination will very much depend on the level of operations management the company chooses to devote. Some companies chose to have a few people dedicated to the project after implementation. This staff may include an Operations Manager, trainer, onsite team lead(s), dedicated technical resource/help desk, and Quality Assurance supervisor. The amount and type of staff will depend very much on the level of involvement you want to have with the outsourcing partner.
7. Set Performance Expectations
The path to success is illuminated by metrics and expectations. An integral part of the planning process is to establish achievable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). These metrics should not be arbitrary numbers, but numbers based on realistic reachable goals. These goals should have a reasonable progression based on experience. The team should be fine tuning and adjusting the baseline as the partner gains experience.
Putting it all together
A successful operation includes communication, knowledge transfer, expectation setting and adjustment, quality control and technical management. When all of these components come together you have created a true outsourcing partnership.
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