Agency projects & Outsourcing – Experience revealed

By Thomaskutty Sebastian on June 18, 2015

 1.   Context

This short report is written based on my experience working with Swiss agencies on web, software and mobile projects over the last years.

This is based mostly on a Swiss context where the quality expectations are very high compared with the other parts of the world. Since the general thumb rule of quality applies on a global context, this report is applicable across borders.

2.   Set your expectations right

As a client, after deciding to outsource, the key questions to ask yourself are:

  1. Do I have to go for a low cost outsourcing partner?
  2. Do I need a high quality and strategic partner?

From my experience:

If the answer is YES for the first question, in most cases the project fails.

The reason is simple – the supplier takes projects just to fill the idle time of their team members, whereas such clients think it is easy to throw some work somewhere and get it done at a cheaper rate.

In this context, supplier do not treat the clients well because these kind of clients do respect suppliers but do not pay them properly. So they can’t expect more from suppliers too.

End result – No mutual respect and project fails. Fortunately, we have had only few such experiences. One such example is a small company in finance domain where our whole experience was more than a disaster. The only regret we have is why we supported that client for such a long time. So there again we learned the lesson – STOP the project as soon as you realize that the client has no idea what he is talking about.

If the answer is YES to second question:

The whole relation is exciting. Clients and suppliers will look forward to work together very closely like a team.

It is important to note that the top to bottom of the client’s organization are aware of this strategic move. Since it is a delicate issue, everyone has to be updated about this and make them feel comfortable. They need to be convinced that this move will help their organization grow and be ahead of their competitors. They should never feel that their job is at stake. Only after doing this exercise both parties can advance to next steps.

The next step:

Client and supplier must openly discuss their expectations to clearly define the structure, process, tools and technologies to make the relationship work. They should meet time to time to review their collaboration.

At client’s side, select the right person with adequate skill sets on outsourcing as the personal accountable for this exercise. If there is no person available with such skills, never start with a big project. Try a test project which isn’t too risky, so as to get the person trained for such a strategic move.

End result – Project will be a big success. One such example is a small but innovative company, working in the area of online publishing started collaboration with us few years back. Today that company and we share a close association and are thankful to each other for the collaboration. Both the teams feel like a single unit and works harder and better to make the collaboration an ongoing success story.

 Knowing each other:

In Swiss context, it’s very likely to have local people integrated in the supplier’s Swiss office so that language and cultural barrier can be manageable. Local presence will also facilitate person to person meeting, which is always the best even though there are many exciting tools around to have communication over distance.

Further, it’s also important for clients to visit suppliers’ local office and their development centre anywhere in the world so they can understand how they work, meet the team and their way of life. This could help both the parties to eliminate any kind of communication gap and facilitates knowledge sharing as well as improvements in the project. Also, this helps your mind to get rid of the stereotype image of different countries and culture, which people often read in the newspaper or in other media. In fact, many emerging economies grow at a lighting pace over the past few years. It worth to finance this activity.

After associating with Swiss agencies for several years a simple yet pragmatic way of managing projects was derived and incorporated. In my next blog, we will discuss in detail the ideal structure, the processes, tools and delivery of a successful project followed by conclusion. Stay tuned!

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