The Rational Outsourcing Blog

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Outsourcing Mistakes -2

If the vendor does not have a detailed process / quality manual for your process, either help them build such a manual, or fire the vendor. I am currently helping a very interesting US-based company improve their outsourcing strategy. In the first meeting the customer highlighted several problems that seemed to stem from very lax process guidelines. When I asked for the process manual, I was informed that the vendor had never shared the manual with the customer. This was the first red flag. When I finally received a copy of the manual, it was just 2½ pages long even though the manual was describing a fairly complex and subjective business process executed by 30 operators across multiple shifts. This was the second red flag. Today we completed the quality analysis and realized that the vast majority of documents processed by this vendor had critical errors and that a large proportion of these problems stemmed from the lack of a detailed process manual.

If your vendor did not take the time to create a detailed process manual, it probably is not taking the time to ensure that the process is being executed in an error-free manner.

To Avoid This Outsourcing Mistake:

  • If you haven’t seen the process manual for your outsourced process, ask to see it today.
  • Confirm that the manual is detailed enough. Ask the question: “Would two reasonably intelligent people perform the task exactly the same way if they followed this manual step-by-step?”
  • If some parts of your process can’t be described in an unambiguous manner in the process manual, then you might want to redesign those parts of your process. For example, if there are too many different ways to describe the category for a product, then you may wish to create a strict catalog structure that your vendor has to select the category from. The goal is to drive out ambiguity wherever possible.

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