“The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill, and spirit; but the greatest of these is spirit” – Ken Doherty
You have been working hard for this day to come.
It is now time for you to put everything in place. It is now time for you to put together your “A” team.
This is the team that you will work with for the long haul.
The is the team that you can see alongside yourself in order for you to achieve your vision. Not just for today’s game, but when you stand on the world’s podium and are applauded by your peers.
Up until now you have just had the squad.
You have tested squad members against each other and with themselves. You wanted to see who could rise to the occasion, who had the potential to step up.
Yes, there were some easy selections – proven, reliable and safe.
But you’ve also had to make some tough decisions.
Long term players who had track records and you thought were suited, will not be selected today.
Rookies who on paper had all the indicators, will also be passed over.
Yet amongst these tough calls will be one or two bets.
Your experience tells you something and what you have seen so far, supports that. Complete outsiders. New to the game. They see the world differently to you, but also believe in your vision. You can see them as future leaders, giants in fact that maybe one day you will stand in their shadows.
Is that how you see your partners?
What about how you see your outsourcing partners?
Are you seeking to ensure you get the “A” team together because fundamentally, outsourcing is about ensuring you have assembled the right team together that has bought into your vision and mission.
However, from my experience there is often a mismatch between the client and the outsourcing firm – a lot of this has to do with bench strength.
Let me explain…
There is an interesting paradox that take place in outsourcing….
Clients want to deal with big outsourcing firms for reliability, experience etc
Outsourcing firms want to deal with big clients for potential growth, reputation etc
What can then play out with this paradox is for clients who bully their smaller outsourcing firms into “submission” and for the larger outsourcing firms to lose interest in their smaller clients.
There is of course another group which falls on the periphery and these are both clients and outsourcing firms that just do not fully comprehend the importance of building the “A” team and see outsourcing more as a transaction and less for the need of a partnership.
So how do you reconcile this?
Well to oversimplify this predicament and to at least be a conversation starter to more robust strategies, I have developed a 2 x 2 matrix to assist in the decision making process.
What I have done is to take two criteria, the size of the client firm and the size of the task and then plotted several lines to group similar sized outsourcing firms together. The aim of this is to better align the client and the outsourcing firm to ensure that the “A” team can be established (the thicker lines between each group represent the reality that it will never be that clear cut as there are may other dependencies to be considered as well).
Why is this important?
To reinforce the importance of looking at your outsourcing decisions in this lens, it is best I share two real examples…
On occasion I use the services of a printing shop. They provide both self-service and done-for-you services and are part of a national organisation. One day while I was waiting to have a small job completed, I could see on their counter, some posters which caught my attention due to the company logo – it was a well known global bank.
The posters were a “cartoon” style story board of this major global bank’s IT infrastructure transformation program that included the closure of old data centres and the opening of new ones. It even named where these data centres were located. All this was in plain view for every customer who walked into the store!
Now I took it on myself to suggest to the staff in the print shop to turn the posters over. No doubt it was very easy for somebody from the global bank’s team to have this print shop do this job – but was it appropriate? Worse still, because I knew this particular global bank very well and know they had their own print shop internally (though still an outsourced service provider, but in a secure location) to do such jobs!
The second example is where I am familiar with a small IT company that had developed some unique technology, only to have it, well how can I say it, leveraged more widely than expected by their client which was a multinational. I understand the matter is still going through the legal system!
So I know simplifying things down to a 2×2 matrix often misses many of the subtle nuances – particular when it comes to outsourcing. Hopefully however my point around alignment to ensure you get the “A” team is clear. That said, as I also stated at the beginning, sometimes your decisions are based a bit on gut feel and an expectation of future performance because you have seen the “spirit”, but this decision is driven for the right reasons.