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Developing the Next Generation of Outsourcing Talent

by sourcingfocus.com

As outsourcing has developed and matured over the past couple of decades, it is essential for the UK to stay ahead of the European market and ensure it has the skills and talent required to cope with the changing industry.

Even in a mature market, many organisations do not recognise the change in the skill set requirements from a pre-outsourcing “business as usual” role to a post-outsourcing supplier relationship role. This change often requires a need to re-train the retained work-force or hire new talent to successfully manage the programme.

The nuances of managing outsourcing partners means there is a strong need for specialist knowledge around procurement processes, relationship and vendor management, due diligence procedures, risk analysis (security, data-protection, intellectual property, and political and economic) business re-engineering, change management, governance and crisis management.
Many organisations are producing their own training programmes, mentoring opportunities and apprenticeship schemes in order to ups-kill their staff to meet the demands of the fast moving outsourcing industry.

Everyone needs training, virtually.

Ganesh Pai, Senior Vice President & Head, Insurance, Mphasis, said: “Training programmes and a strong talent management framework are some of the key dimensions of a successful outsourcing partnership. In order to achieve this, outsourcers need to set up talent programmes to plan, acquire, develop and retain talent aligned to sourcing needs.

“This can be done with a strong HR programme, promoting the advantages and opportunities to learn from cross-cultural experiences and teams. An efficient way to encourage this is the development of a global, virtual workforce through the deployment of unified communication technology and enterprise knowledge management repositories.”

Sitel’s Newcastle Centre was awarded the ‘Best Training Programme’ at the Contact Centre Awards in November 2011. Sitel provides learning opportunities to enable employees to perform in their jobs effectively, and to assist in career management. To support this company goal, ‘Track-Training’ was developed to provide a training, career-development and succession-planning programme.

Andrew McCobb, Site Director Newcastle, Sitel, said: “Track-Training supports the development of internal talent, utilising a combination of role-focused training activities, experiential learning, coaching and mentoring.

“Progress through role-specific and individual learning plans is supported via our internal Learning Management System (LMS), called Sitel University, which enables the integration of on-demand e-learning materials and virtual-classroom training from our Global Learning Team and providing automated and bespoke reporting to be able to track completion and quantify the success of training activities.”

School’s In: Back to the Classroom

As the practice of supplier relationship management develops, it is clear that there is a skill set emerging within the field of outsource supplier relationship management and a sense that there needs to be a career path for SRMs.  More and more people in an SRM role are looking for qualifications that will acknowledge their transferable skills in what is a skilled and highly complex role that adds considerable value to an organisation. Chris Halward, programme director the National Outsourcing Association Pathway, says:

“A typical approach is for a ‘contract management’ approach to be adopted.  As the name suggests this focuses on the contract terms and can be characterised by an inflexible approach where the supplier manager is intent on ensuring that the supplier delivers to the terms laid out in the contract – period. 

“A true relationship management approach by SRMs requires considerable skill and experience, but will bring far greater value to the relationship. It is characterised by a focus on how the relationship as a whole can work best, for the benefit of all the parties. The SRM recognises the importance of managing both the supplier’s needs and that of in-house stakeholders, and invests time in being clear what those needs are and how they can best be satisfied.  Those who manage at relationship level are commercially aware and are continually exploring risk and opportunity to add value into the arrangement. “

Change Behaviours, Boost Your Bottom Line

But this is not instinctive, and goes against the grain of how many organisations operate. Only by devolving robust talent management strategies – be they in house, or as taught by a trade association - and developing your people to fit your organisational needs, can you break the cycle.

By encouraging behaviours that will maximise the potential of your business services relationships, you will not only retain your best people, but their effectiveness to your bottom line will proliferate.


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