The 2008 Horses Awards for Awful Outsourcing

August 12, 2008 | Phil Fersht

In light of all the recent banter on the credibility of awards, I thought we'd serve up our own awards ceremony - and I reckon we can put all of the other lists/awards companies out of business in a heartbeat, because only one vendor will get upset with each award (genius 'eh?)... Here are the categories:

Horses-Awards Worst Outsourcing Provider of the year:

Vendors - are you just so plain awful you can't hold down a client?  Then, this could be for you! This is restricted to vendors which have had a minimum of three clients bail on them over the last 12 months, whether they "backsourced", or paid millions to switch to another provider. 

The "Awful Advisor" award:

Rarely is a sourcing advisor ejected from client-site, but it's happened - and a few times!  Buyers - please nominate that team of consultants that drained you of billable hours, before coming up with recommendations that you could have got from a taxi-driver.

The "Bait-and-Switch" special:

Buyers - did you sign up with a vendor, when the minute the ink was try, the entire team who worked their guts out to woo you simply vanished?  Those Six Sigma black-belts, LEAN luminaries and Kaizen karate kids never materialized?  They leave a zero off from the attrition-rate in their Hyderabad call center?  Then nominate your favorite bait-and-switcher today.

The Lousiest HRO provider:

We're spoiled for choice with this one - how many payroll runs did your supplier miss?  Do you blame it for all your dysfunctional HR processes?  Of course you do! Here's your chance to throw your HRO provider fully under the bus.

The Funkiest FAO supplier:

Still closing the books from Q4 2007?  Got 2,748,547 unpaid invoices?  You know what to do...

And finally.... Thought Laggard of the Year:

Sick of the same old bleating from past-it, out-of-touch old industry windbags?  Tired of reading their dreary old articles that they probably got some freelancer to write for them anyway?  Worn-out with ego-filled luminaries starting their own blogs then leaving them stranded after three posts?  Well, now it's time to recognize their anti-contribution to the outsourcing industry!


Posted in: Absolutely Meaningless Comedy

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  1. Naomi Bloom
    Posted Aug 12, 2008 08:07 PM | Permalink Reply

    Provide some method to reply anonymously and you'll be conducting the most valuable industry survey yet.

  2. Mark Stelzner
    Posted Aug 12, 2008 09:47 PM | Permalink Reply

    Brilliant Phil, simply brilliant.

    You could have included "Worst Anal-List Award" for the tight-assed luminary who in an ill-conceived effort to please everyone lacked the wherewithal to truly state an objective and honest opinion about the industry.

  3. Phil Fersht
    Posted Aug 12, 2008 10:45 PM | Permalink Reply

    Naomi - good idea. How about I ask vendors to get their own clients to opt-in :)

    Mark - do such people exist?

  4. Gavin Thomas
    Posted Aug 13, 2008 04:23 AM | Permalink Reply

    Thanks Phil - this made my day!

  5. James McCreedy
    Posted Aug 13, 2008 06:31 AM | Permalink Reply

    You're awful :)

  6. Carol Hammond
    Posted Aug 13, 2008 11:08 PM | Permalink Reply


    I think its quite unfair you don't have a category for the worst Outsourced awful CLIENT of 2008!



  7. Phil Fersht
    Posted Aug 13, 2008 11:12 PM | Permalink Reply

    Carol - you are 100% right here - how remiss of me.

    How about this: "Vendors, do you have a self-rightous client who does not believe they need to have any accountability for the project outcome and just want to make you look like a criminal?"

  8. El Tong
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 01:24 AM | Permalink Reply

    Oh my God, couldn't you just nominate every client you ever had for Phil's "Vendors, do you have a self-rightous client who does not believe they need to have any accountability for the project outcome and just want to make you look like a criminal?" category??!!

    How about " Clients who actually took some accountability and managed to treat the vendors like humans not robots for the duration of the contract" award....the shortlist would be just that! :)

  9. Marc Kauffmann
    Posted Aug 14, 2008 01:45 AM | Permalink Reply

    I agree with Naomi that an anonymous way to vote would be very valuable. This can help clients avoid time consuming and costly mistakes.

  10. Jason Corsello
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 12:05 AM | Permalink Reply

    Thanks for the great humor Phil. Love to see the HRO blame game continue. Let's all blame the buyers now for writing a check for the Mercedes and having the Hyundai delivered instead!

  11. Phil Fersht
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 12:54 AM | Permalink Reply


    As a Benz owner, I find the car thirsty on gas and I get bankrupted everytime something goes wrong... whereas Hyundai's are fuel-efficient, inexpensive to maintain on a long-term basis, and socially responsible with hybrid options.

    I can't wait to switch!


  12. Esteban Herrera
    Posted Aug 18, 2008 02:22 AM | Permalink Reply

    Appreciate the humour, Phil, but don't discount the value these awards could have on the market--they would instanly become the most popular!

    I do agree with Carol that nightmare client should be included...there may need to be several tiers of each award now that I think about it, though that would violate your principle of only upsetting one party per award.

    But its funny because its real. I've been saying for years transparency is the problem, Professional services, and outsourcing in particular, have buyers and sellers working hard to conceal rather than share information. Change that behavior and you have changed the industry

  13. vinnie mirchandani
    Posted Aug 20, 2008 01:43 PM | Permalink Reply

    people, quit making fun of Hyundais :) I just wish they would not pretend to be Lexus and Mercedes - see

    BTW - couple of other categories for you

    a) vendor exec who actually showed up at client other than in first 3 and last 3 months of multi-year contract

    b) vendor with such onerous early termination fees that cell companies are lining up to learn from them :)

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