I’ve been enjoying some great comments from people these past months and thought it time to highlight the occasional contribution that got me thinking "good point!". The recent post entitled "Is it time to dump the term outsourcing?" has – and still is – produced some superb discussion, in particular one comment from Robert Jakobson, a program manager and 15-year veteran with IBM, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, who puts forward a great argument on why some enterprises use the "O" term in the first place. Enjoy.
I’m going to give you several magic terms. They’re accurate, they’re descriptive, they’re honest and they’re truthful.
Why are you calling it outsourcing in the first place? You’re hiring people to perform a job. You don’t need to give them a name. Haven’t for years. If the people involved on the project(s) you’re doing don’t understand that all that is happening is that certain portions of the work in the over all project are being performed by contracted or vendor assignments then you’ve already blown it.
People fear outsourcing for one reason … if the work is being sent "outside" then it’s not being done "in-house" and that means that "in-house" is not benefiting the project. What part of the project is being done by in-house resources? Focus them on the work they need to be doing instead of making them wonder why they’re not doing the other work.
The people (the Team) on the project needs to know what they’re supposed to be doing. And you need to specify this in advance and let everyone understand their role. If someone says, "Hey why are we doing <blah> in house?", be honest. "Because it’s not beneficial to do it that way. We get more benefit out of having our in-house team members working on <blah>".
Don’t sugar coat it. But don’t be all gloom and doom either. Just tell them the truth why – and show them what their roles are. If they worry about long term roles in the company – then you need to show them the work you have for them and reduce those fears. If on the other hand … they have a reason to be worried then you need to let them know that as well.
If people are going to be outsourced – if their jobs are going away you are not doing them a service by candy coating it or deflecting the question. There is a reason why Doctors tell patients the truth even if it’s brutally painful. It’s easier on the patient.
Be honest – if you are often enough, people trust you regardless.
Calling it outsourcing isn’t accurate. It’s just a vendor – a contractor. And the work being done is just work. You’re not "outsourcing" it. The work is no different if it’s done in India than if it’s done in the next state. If it’s not "in-house" it’s still just work. Pointing out that it’s being done somewhere else globally should not make a difference.
;Robert Jakobson is based in Seattle, WA.