Monthly Archives: Jan 2009

Conference alert: Shared Services Week

January 31, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Shared_Services_Week_HFS Folks - it's challenging cherry-picking which events are worth going to this year with everyone cutting back on the travel costs, but one you should definitely have on your calendar is IQPC's Shared Services Week, where I am hosting their F&A BPO session entitled Going Beyond the Letter of the Contract: Deriving Business Value From Your F&A BPO Experience, where I will be joined by my industry BPO friends Graham Russell (Astrazeneca), John Transier (Unilever), Mike Monaghan (Wells Fargo) and Sunil Narang (Level 3). Check out the session at 3.35pm on March 24th. 

And even if you can't make the week, you can still catch the highlights here, with the Horses being the official blog for the show.

IQPC have offered Horses readers a discount offer: 2-for-1 Special – Bring a colleague FREE when you purchase a main conference pass at standard pricing.  Reference code IUS_HFS_#1 to receive this discount. *Open to end-users only.

So why attend?

*A focus on quick wins for your shared services organization, with highlights on meeting short-term immediate gains and cutting costs without jeopardizing service levels

*An expert speaker faculty, including 4 Chief Economists, to demonstrate how to use survive the economic downturn and come out stronger on the other side

*Easy-to-customize conference experience: Choose between 7 tracks, including HR Transformation, Sourcing, Talent Management and Blue Sky Innovation Room, 3 Master Classes, 4 site tours and 16 workshops

*Expanded Exhibition Hall, networking opportunities and an exciting new year for the Annual Shared Services Excellence Awards.

4 Chief Economists will be speaking

Gregory Miller, Chief Economist, Sun Trust Banks
Brian Fabbri, Chief U.S. Economist for North America, BNP Paribas
David Wyss, Chief Economist, Standard & Poor’s
W. Michael Cox, Chief Economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

For more information, please contact: Kim Vigilia, IQPC || Ph: 212-885-2753 || [email protected] ||

Posted in: Captives and Shared Services StrategiesFinance & Accounting BPOOutsourcing Events



Alliance performs some spectacular Satyam ambulance-chasing

January 28, 2009 | Phil Fersht

I was stupefied to observe Alliance Global Services, a privately-held IT services shop, join the Satyam ambulance-chasers by promoting it's "IT Partners Bill Of Rights".  Alliance is hoping to get 100,000 signatures supporting some version of its bill of rights and to have the document serve as a platform to establish a "global ethic consortium for IT services vendors":

  1. The right to demand transparency throughout every step of an engagement -- from sales to contracting to delivery and termination
  2. The right to fully understand the nature and character of an IT partner and the service that it provides to them
  3. The right to fully understand the financial viability of an IT partner
  4. The right to be made aware of any impending legal charges against an IT partner, should they arise, as soon as they occur
  5. The right to arrive at a mutually agreed upon definition of the term "trusted partner"
  6. The right to expect a clear contract that defines fees and expenses up front before any agreement is signed
  7. The right to terminate a relationship with no financial penalty in the event of any admitted fraudulent activity
  8. The right to demand the existence of a truly independent board of advisers
  9. The right to expect the presence of an independent financial auditor accompanied by a set of checks and balances
  10. The right to demand accountability for any actions taken within the scope of a technology project or as part of a firm's broader business practices

While I cannot argue with any client requesting any of the above from an IT vendor (or any client of any services supplier in any industry for that matter), this media-marketing is shamelessly exploiting the Satyam situation to market its own services and take advantage of media-hounds hungry to add fuel to this controversy.  One vendor cooks the books and suddenly the whole world of offshore outsourcing is crooked? Would this action really have prevented Ramalinga Raju doing what he did?  Puh-lease!

Posted in: Confusing Outsourcing InformationIT Outsourcing / IT Services



What goes around comes around

January 25, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Dubbya This credit-crisis-fueled recession is testing us far more deeply than merely everyone shaving a few costs while we ride this sucker out. And while it hurts, a little pain should bring about some positives that go far deeper than mere penny-pinching. We need to dig deeper to understand more about what makes us good people: fun to be with, smart to do business with, and decent returners-of-favors. I have always (somewhat naively) operated on the “what goes around comes around” principle, but I truly believe these times will help many of us get what we deserve. I don’t mind doing people favors – I just don’t do them twice if the first one never got returned when I needed it.

But we will come out of this, and we will emerge a bit smarter, a bit leaner, a bit more streetwise, and I firmly hope this will bring the best qualities out of us. We may emerge a few percentage points poorer than when we went into this, but the world we will be living in should be one where we help each other out more, and appreciate what we have.

When I look at the way many corporates and people behaved during the greed years, I sincerely hope these experiences bring a degree of humility to us all. I live and die by my friendships – whether personal or work-related, and I know many of you who have the same principles will get through the next couple of years. However, we all know people who just focus on what they can get out of others and rarely put back – those are the people I fear for in this economy, and I hope learn to act with more humility as a result.

Anyway, I will finish this little diatribe with a couple of points about how to treat our friends and colleagues:

People: remember who your friends are. Stop thinking just about your career and your self-interest, but take some time to get to know people a little better – and not simply those aspects that can further your own goals and ambitions

Work: use this episode to get smarter at what we do. Focus heavily on providing value and put in a little extra time and effort. If you are lucky enough to be in a job, remember the unluckier folks who helped you along the way, and take some time to see if you can help them out. If you are one of the unlucky ones, call in your favors – you will quickly learn who your real friends are...

I write this piece at 37,000 feet above the Atlantic, it's my birthday... and I need a break from this presentation, so forgive me this little opinionated indulgence...just this once :)

Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless ComedyBuyers' Sourcing Best Practices



India dominates procurement BPO delivery

January 23, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Taking a detour from the Satyam fiasco, I have much better news for the Indian services sector based on brand new data on the procurement business process outsourcing (BPO) market.  Only a couple of years' ago, barely a small fraction of procurement work was sourced from offshore locations such as India.  However, it has now reached almost 70% for all current procurement BPO engagements.  Read the full post at Think Global.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesFinance & Accounting BPO



Are we demonstrating value?

January 17, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Donovan McNabbWhen we talk about "change", we're not just talking about Washington or Detroit.  We also need to include OURSELVES.

The events of the past couple of months have given us all pause for thought with our careers and what we're going to be doing in a couple of years' (or weeks' / months') time. 

We had a great discussion a few months' back when we talked about the challenges of staying relevant in today's corporate climate, and this current economic shift is driving this need for relevance right down to all employees in the organization.  The "relevance" discussion now goes far deeper than roles and responsibilities, it goes right into demonstrable value-add, and the ability to impact revenue.  Whether you work in sales, operations, finance, marketing etc., you need to be able to tie what you do to your company's mission and revenue stream.

Bad recessions bring out different reactions from companies with their approaches to steadying the ship and readying themselves for sustained profitability.  These reactions nearly always result in staff reductions, reorganizations and aggressive means of reducing both variable and fixed costs.  Past recessions have resulted with most companies "snipping" costs without changing their business models, and several firms even kept hold of all their staff and rode out the downturn in anticipation of recovering much quicker and stronger than their competitors.  Most of the snipping was focused on low-performers.

This time is different.  Most companies - right now -  are snipping staff who do not directly impact their revenue, whether they be a low or high performer.  Staff who may be incredibly talented, but focus on activities that are peripheral to the company's core revenue-generation, are at risk in today's corporate environment. 

Employees at risk in today's corporate climate:

1) Staff working in new product lines which are yet to have matured, or are considered discretionary in this environment;

2) Staff in management roles that are largely administrative and have limited involvement in direct sales / client relationships;

3) Staff who are unpopular and considered to have a negative impact on revenue development;

4) Low-performers, which the company has wanted to shed for a while and now see the long cold winteras a chance to ease them off the payroll with limited reproach.

And if you are unlucky enough to get caught in the cross-fire, your next challenge is to understand why this happened.  Most likely, you were unlucky and need to find a new opportunity that aligns you with another firm's core revenue channel.  But if you dig really deep, you may have to concede that you need to develop your skills and knowledge to make yourself attractive to future employers, so you can directly impact their core businesses.  I believe we'll see many people seeking career changes in the coming year as they concede their current skills and experience are no longer as relevant as they once were. 

New growth and investment areas, such as health-care, renewable energy, new technology development, are going to be the lucky recipients of an influx of talent willing to retrain for long-term career security. Moreover, jobs in the public sector and education are now appearing far, far more attractive than they were a couple of years' ago.

All-in-all, we're moving into an environment where some industries will find their feet, others will decline and some may die altogether.  Many people will be refocusing their careers in new areas that they may not have envisaged in the recent past.  One thing is clear - we are in new era where people are going to have get used to change and learn to adapt themselves to new job roles, new routines... and new expectations.


Posted in: HR Strategy



Get that service provider selection right the first time...

January 15, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Posted in: Uncategorized



Beware of Satyam ambulance-chasers

January 14, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Been inundated with calls from several Satyam competitors circling their clients like vultures... read my thoughts over at Think Global.


Posted in: IT Outsourcing / IT Services



The Horses spawns a partner: Think Global

January 13, 2009 | Phil Fersht

AMR-ResearchAmigos - I'm excited to announce the launch of a sister-blog to Horses for Sources : here ariseth "Think Global", with focus on global delivery strategy, BPO, supply chain and IT services trends.  My firm, AMR Research (God bless 'em) has admirably tolerated the Horses for a long time now, until finally asking if I'll consider extending my verbosity to our research content, to which many of you do not gain access.  I've kicked this off with complimentary access to a new research article entitled "Beware of Myopic Cost Cutting: Use Outsourcing To Be More Competitive in This Economy".

I've always used the Horses platform as an outlet to knock around views, cultivate ideas and take the industry temperature.  So many of you have been part of that.  And, while we might not always have been 100% accurate, we've collectively generated so many gems of insight that I frequently read our commentary to add some color to what I am thinking - and I know many of you do the same. 

The power of the blogsphere is truly extending to the analyst world.  And while some of the other analyst firms have pushed their blog strategies for a while now, I am (for once) going to brag that none of them have come close to cracking the blogging code.  Over here we have, and it's time to take it mainstream.

Horses will not be going away, but will run in tandem with Think Global.  I hope you take a little time to pay a visit.

While you're there, please also check out the blogs from a couple of AMR's industry legends, Bruce Richardson and Kevin O'Marah.  I'll see you over there...


Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesFinance & Accounting BPO



Obama from the ashes

January 13, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Phoenix_Obama When we look at the carnage of our economy, it's not too hard to come to one hard conclusion:  we're at rock bottom.  And we may even get worse than rock bottom, but fortunately the English language has yet to cater for an expression of such depths of bottomness, so we'll just stick with "rock". 

The consequences of the next few months' policies are going to shape how we recover from this.  And while many have tried to devalue the importance of the US as the epicenter of the world economy, noone can escape the fact that the US is tasked globally with dragging us out of our current predicament. 

The Chinese have long-boasted that they can shut themselves off from the problems of the West and thrive on their domestic and regional dominance, but the world's second-largest economy is now suffering from more severe recessionary problems than those which Western countries are going through (Iceland aside).  They thrived on the US economic prosperity and its free-spending of the last two decades.

And having just spent three days with the leading retailers at the NRF show, all I can tell you is we're in dire need of an economic stimulus package and some new leadership.  What a time for a new President to take the reigns - and what a mandate he has to make some bold new policies.  Just when we're running out of hope, here comes the audacious one.  Over to you Mr O... you couldn't have dreamed of a better platform to change the world

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)



Executing effective HR in 2009: an interview with Jason Geller

January 11, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Geller_Jason We've had the privilege of hearing from a host of industry leaders over the last couple of years (just look under the Outsourcing Heros category), and I'm delighted to present an interview with Deloitte's Jason Geller.  Jason has been instrumental in driving some of the largest and most complex global HR transformation initiatives over the last decade, and has gained a stellar reputation within the industry as one of HR's most prominent thought leaders and consultants.  I also had the privilege of working with Jason, and discovered he's quite a bashful chap who frequently shuns the spotlight in favor of his colleagues, so I thought I'd do something about that...

PF: Jason, in a nutshell, what do you see as the major challenges and opportunities facing HR executives today - and what measures do you recommend to address these?

JG: In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to focus HR on activities that create business value. That means having a HR Strategy/Business Plan laser-focused on business value drivers:

  • Revenue Growth:  Business Transformation, Globalization, M&A, New Markets, Innovation  

  • Talent Strategies:  Workforce Planning, Learning & Development, Total Rewards, Mass Career, Customization, Global Mobility

  • Operational Effectiveness:  HR Policy, HR Service Delivery, HR Operations & Technology, Change and Culture, HR Analytics, Compliance

HR must deliver the HR services needed to support business strategy, such as revenue growth, talent and operational effectiveness. HR must make sure it is doing the right qqwork at the right level within the organization: By the right person; At the right location; By the right entity; Through the right delivery method; By the right HR role, which will lead to improved alignment with business goals.

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)Buyers' Sourcing Best PracticesHR Outsourcing



Satyam: It was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten

January 07, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Tiger A great quote to cap a sad story for Satyam's Ramalinga Raju, who resigned as Chairman today. 

Following the recent issues regarding Satyam’s financial irregularities, India’s IT-BPO services industry finds itself under increased financial scrutiny from Wall St analysts and corporate clients. However, while Satyam has a major challenge ahead to maintain its market position, and is a likely takeover target, we do not believe this fiasco will have longer-term ramifications for the Indian services sector, as long as Satyam’s creative accounting turns out to be an isolated incident and not a more pervasive problem across the sector.

Satyam’s existing customers will ask questions, but are unlikely to switch suppliers, unless Satyam loses a large number of crucial operational staff in the coming weeks. However, Satyam is now at a disadvantage in winning new business in the short-term as it struggles to shake off the current controversy. Plus, some customers renewing existing agreements will be evaluating alternative service provider options, in the wake of the uncertainty surrounding Satyam’s future. Its new leadership needs to move fast to right the ship and placate corporate accounts, and likely prepare the firm for an imminent takeover – the firm’s stock just hit a new all-time low. With Satyam’s strength across software service areas, particularly high-margin enterprise application services – we believe potential suitors include

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Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)IT Outsourcing / IT ServicesKnowledge Process Outsourcing & Analytics



January 5th: time to shake off the gloom

January 04, 2009 | Phil Fersht

It's time for people to stop panicking about next year.  

On January 5th it's business as usual, companies will be selling and delivering their services, looking for new avenues that will provide them with competitive bite, operational excellence and new ways of surviving in a tough business environment.  We are part of that.  

Yes, some of us will get laid off - several people I know already have, but we'll find new jobs, or new career opportunities - we always do.  We may get a little poorer, but so will everyone else and the cost of living will get cheaper.

End of the day, we function in a world where we have much better technology and communications than we had 6 years' ago, much more mature global delivery models, and a truly global marketplace in which we operate.  The future opportunity for our careers and our businesses has never had so much potential in the long-term, once we get over these short-term hurdles and adjust to a more challenging business environment. Challenges and change breed new opportunities - and the world won't stop while we try to embrace them.  

We have exciting new technologies being developed and a fledgling new industry for developing alternative energy sources.  And we have a new President arriving with fresh ideas and a fresh energy... in just 3 weeks.

It's time to shake off the gloom.  2009 here we come.

Posted in: Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)



Another vote for ditching the “O” word

January 03, 2009 | Phil Fersht

Our super-charged discussion on using more relevant terminology to describe global services delivery took on another twist yesterday, when the WSJ published yet another piece about how the outsourcing market is "taking a hit", citing TPI’s large-deal data for 3Q08. This follows on from another recent article from the same journalist, who appears determined to announce the demise of "outsourcing" to the world.

My colleague Dana Stiffler lends her weight to the argument:

"The number of $25M+ deals signed

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Posted in: Uncategorized



Best of Horses '08... the funny ones

January 03, 2009 | Phil Fersht

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Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Comedy



Best of Horses in '08... the serious ones

January 02, 2009 | Phil Fersht

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Posted in: Uncategorized