Capture teams and business fluctuations


    A trend that has been increasing over the last few years is that of a capture team outsourcing model. This is usually where an outsource vendor provides members of his own staff as a permanent team for the client. In this way the vendor supplies all the logistical requirements of employees and ensures that the client can have a team of their own. The client in this relationship benefit as they have a full time team and don’t have to rely on an ever changing array of people constantly having to be trained, therefore delivery is never compromised.


    It sounds like an ideal situation for all concerned. The vendor can maintain multiple teams and service a number of clients. These small teams are managed by a series of project and account managers to ensure the clients needs are satisfied. The economies of scale are still available with the possibility of working on a large number of projects, staff retention in the vendor might be less of a problem. Indeed some vendors work on a rotation system where employees are automatically move to another project after a fixed time.


    For the client a capture team ensures that they have a dedicated resource pool that can be draw on. They always know how much resource there is and how much work can be sent to them. This knowledge provides predictability and reduces risk. When a client is outsourcing, risk reduction is generally high on the agenda, especially if they are going offshore. The client doesn’t have to worry about servicing these employees with their HR or logistical needs. If they want to expand their team they can speak to their account manager who will simply provide a number of CVs the client can choose from.


    This all sounds like the perfect client – vendor relationship, but nothing is ever perfect.


    ·         Reduced flexibility to expand or rationalise quickly. This especially affects small companies who can go through the famine and feast scenarios or with seasonal work that can impact even the largest organisation. Also, if the client company would like to scale back on the relationship for whatever reason, there can be a fixed, minimum team size built into the contract. Reducing below this level may incur penalties

    ·         A constant work stream has to be guaranteed or the team will be idle. The team members are essentially the same as your own employees. You have to find work for them or they will be a resource drain. The last thing you want is to have a further set of mouths to feed in the quiet times

    ·         Rotation within the vendor can mean teams still face attrition. It can be difficult to retain team members as they will want to move on to broaden their experience. The attrition between companies can run as high as 30 and if you also have inter-team attrition, this can compound to unacceptable levels. This can especially be the case if your vendor it not in the top tier, or if you only have a small team, doing a repetitive task

    ·         Fixed team means you can be stuck with weak members. The team members you select, as with your onsite permanent members of staff will vary in ability. If you find that there are some particularly weak ones it can be hard first to identify them as the vendor team may pull together and protect the weak links. Even if you do identify them, moving them to another team could be difficult depending on the terms of the contract.

    ·         Your work may be deemed ’boring’ within the vendor and team members can lack motivation. The vendor will guarantee you have the correct numbers in your team, based on the contract. One of the many reasons to outsource is to move the boring, repeatable work to someone else. Your in house team can then work on the more exciting, motivating work, ensuring increased staff retention. This can mean that the outsource team is just as bored and unmotivated as your old in house team was. Their passion for the job and the quality might fall. The whole idea of continuous improvement could be thrown out the window and the vendor may just concentrate on the base SLAs. It is exceedingly difficult to determine the moral of an outsource team especially an offshore one.


    These points should be kept in mind when entering into a capture team outsource agreement. Sometimes the determining factor can be the size of the team you require and the size of your company. If you are an SME, and you require only a small team, and are looking at a tier 1 vendor then perhaps capture is not the way forwards. If you are a large organisation, working with a tier 1 vendor then capture may be the only viable option. Lastly, If you are a SME and want a capture team, think about a smaller vendor in a tier 2 market. This can ease the attrition and internal rotation concerns. The other concerns are something everyone has to factor when entering a capture outsource relationship.