How To Make Outsourcing Easier on Internal Staff

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    I just stumbled across this March 2004 article that appeared in a UK publication online, but I'm sharing it because it has some useful instruction for dealing with employee communication in outsourcing scenarios. "Outsourcing: How to smooth the way for staff," by Cath Everett, first appeared in Computing. Although some of what the author covers isn't applicable to US readers (because of differing EU laws regarding employment), the psychology behind how workers and managers respond and react will sound familiar to American readers. And the advice is applicable to both audiences.

    A short case study on Royal Mail, which outsourced its internal IT organization, actually brought IT staff into the process two years before any contract was signed. Explains Irvine Caplan, director of the commercial management of outsourcing at the organization:

    They were perceived as vital to providing relevant information about the internal workings of the IT department and the service it provided to the business, as a basis for writing the tender document.

    Also, as the article points out,

    …IT staff are not the only people who will be affected by outsourcing decisions, with user communities often finding the move equally unsettling.

    "Very often IT staff are colleagues who users are used to working with, so they'll be worried that they'll no longer be able to pick up the phone and get Fred to help them without incurring charges," explains [Orbys director Angela] Wyatt.

    As a result, it is crucial to involve users in the process by clarifying how changes will affect them and alter the way they work with the IT function.

    This may require a meeting to talk through some of the issues or even require a degree of educational training, but is central to maintaining customer satisfaction levels.

    Worth a read for getting insights from others — including an inside perspective from an outsourced employee.

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