Communication, Collaboration, and Content for Outsourcing

September 19, 2007 at 9:41 am | Posted in collaboration, communication, Content Management | Leave a comment

Note: This is a cross-posting of an entry I did in the official Collaboration and Content Strategies blog.

I had a conversation this morning with a large, information services organization about outsourcing.  That may seem strange since the Collaboration and Content Strategies service does not cover outsourcing.  But along with the standard questions about where in the world outsourcing was taking place, near-shoring vs. off-shoring, and legal questions the company also wanted to know about how best practice organizations are working and collaborating with their offshore workers.  I thought that was a very good question to ask, so I’m posting what I told them up on this blog.

Communication, collaboration, and content management are enabling technologies for outsourcing.  It is hard for me to remember how outsourcing worked twenty years ago without these technologies and now I can’t imagine doing outsourcing without them.

Of course, outsourcing was happening twenty years ago anyways.  But the expectations for return were lower, as was the pace of communications and the expectations for collaborative involvement in decision making.  Organizations make a decision to outsource based on competitive pressures.  Accordingly, a certain degree of efficiency is required to get the returns expected from outsourcing.  I don’t believe an organization can get the returns expected today without near best practice in joint creation of documents, sharing of information, brainstorming and decision making, and mechanisms that enable a single source of truth (such as web publishing, document libraries, and document management).  And while there are many non-technical factors and other technology domains (networking and security come quickly to mind) involved, those near best practices cannot be accomplished without a strategy for the enabling technologies that support them.

Furthermore, as I mentioned in my telebriefing on preparing a business case for collaboration, the technology needs to be in place today to enable business collaboration that will take place in the future.  And this technology needs to be adopted in a strategic manner, not just tactically for each individual outsourcing project.  In a tactical adoption of communication, collaboration, and content technology the burden of the research time, implementation time, and learning curve is borne by an individual project.  For this reason, tactical adoption of these enabling technologies greatly increases the risk of not achieving the expected return from business collaboration projects such as outsourcing.  And without strategic forethought, there is a significant risk that the technology that was a good fit for its intended project will not be a good fit for future projects. 

All of this adds up to a good case for any organization that is contemplating outsourcing to evangelize a strategic approach to communication, collaboration, and content management so that these technologies will be ready to be leveraged when needed for outsourcing – or any other project requiring information efficiencies that happens to come along.


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