How To Communicate With Your Outsourced Team Effectively
Brian DeVaultSo once we've got a good understanding of all the assets involved, we want to move on to critical points of contact.
Brian DeVaultSo these are people within the organization, their vendors within the organization could be companies that are providing support for the SAS environment at the organizational level we'll have a point of contact. That's a technical point of contact. This is the person that has traditionally provided most of the technical directions of the organization. It could be multiple people in bigger organizations it's going to be a group of people. Somebody might be responsible for applications and desktops and somebody might be responsible for networks engineering and somebody might be a PM within the organization, you know those types of things. We consider all those technical roles. After that, we define administrative roles.
Brian DeVaultSo those are typically people that we go to when we need approval for things like creating a new user account. So think about this like director of H.R. If I get a request in from the client that says I need a new user account created, somebody needs to approve that. Same thing if they're off boarding somebody, somebody's leaving the company then we've got to have a workflow that defines who approves those things. Same thing when it comes to other tasks that you wouldn't normally consider, like who approves desk moves?
Brian DeVaultYou know, if a user comes to the IT guy and says, hey, I want to move from this desk over there to that desk, that happens a lot. And you can't just say, OK, user, I'll move you. Somebody's got to say, OK, that's I approve that. And that's an OK thing to do. So and then things like I need a cell phone or I need a new piece of technology, I need Adobe Pro instead of Adobe Reader.
Brian DeVaultSo and some of those have a financial component and that's where a billing contact. So we're going to gain those the knowledge of the organization and get those roles defined up front so that we understand as we're going through workflow that you're normal IT being insourced would understand because they know who the HR person is. The HR person probably handed them their offer letter when they hired him. But when we're coming in as an outside entity, we don't understand any of this workflow.
Brian DeVaultWe have no tribal knowledge of the organization at all. So what we're trying to do is build that familiarity with the organization so we know who are the key points of contact, who is the CEO? So these are people that we typically give V.I.P. treatment.
Brian DeVaultSo, for instance, if I have an issue that comes in to the Help Desk, where I've got a printer that's low on cyan ink, that's going to come in as a priority for or a maintenance issue unless it's this person. Those are all things to consider. So that's kind of the second stage of the game. Developing those points of contact through verbal interview process with whoever our point of contact is internally.
Mike CromwellSo another benefit going through this process is...
Brian DeVaultIt forces you to create process, it forces you to create procedure. It forces these things sometimes, these approval chains. Part of our documentation that we go through has, there's three pages of just questionnaire, like ok who approves new computer purchases, what happens when that person leaves, how do we go about getting that equipment back in and then what do we do with it? Do we backup their data and archive it or do we just throw it in the pile with the rest of them? How are we doing all those asset management things that typically when customers are handling their I.T. internally, there's no external there's no third party that's auditing what's happening within that I.T. department. So the practices and the procedures were process and procedure that's within their internal I.T. department is basically a free for all.
Mike CromwellWe've heard all the talk about shadow I.T.
Mike CromwellHow much of that do you think is attributable to lack of definition of...
Brian DeVaultOne hundred percent? That's where it came from. It's because my I.T. department can't do this for me. Right? So I'm going to figure out how to do it myself. That's why those processes are so important. And some of them are very easy to establish. We have best practices that we use templates from when we come into an organization, say, do you have a business continuity disaster recovery policy?
Brian DeVaultYes. What is it? Is it written down? Is the documented, has it been tested? How frequently do you test it? What are your recovery time objectives? What are your recovery point objectives? All those things that are super important to the business leadership. But I.T. doesn't have the time, effort, resources, capabilities to execute that.
Mike CromwellWhat about outside vendors? Let's say equipment providers, hardware?
Brian DeVaultThey were my SAS provider who provides my servers and my firewall, you know are my branch offices. So if I have a branch office, I'm going to need a key point of contact in each branch office if I'm supporting that office from my centralized operation center so that if this office goes offline, I can notify them. They can distribute that notification to their employees and say, hey, our office is offline, we've got an ISP outage.
Brian DeVaultYou know Netrios escalated with the carrier, which I'm going to know from my vendor list and bring it back online and communicate effectively. So all of that. And then, of course, any key groups here. Right?
Brian DeVaultFor instance, if my SAS application is down and let's say for H.R., I use workspace, but my finance department is not going to be concerned if workspace is down. So if my SAS provider has an outage, I'm listed as a qualified vendor. I'm going to turn around. I'm going to notify the end user community because they're going to need to know that, hey, this is down or I'm going to get an influx of support requests on my help desk of people calling in saying Workday's down. So this is that proactive approach towards notifying people before they have to tell you that something's wrong. So, yeah, so. We're gathering all those key points of contact for my laptop vendor. Let's say I'm using Dell or HP, right. I'm going to understand what these asset tags are associated with each of these assets, I'm going to tie that back to a vendor and tie it back to a support contract. The support contract is going to have an SLA.
Brian DeVaultSo I'm going to understand, do I have next business day service on this asset or same business day service on this asset? That's going to do several things for me.
Brian DeVaultIt's going to tell me how to set the expectation for the end user if something goes wrong, if it's a service depot arrangement where they have to box it up and mail it back to their manufacturer, that I'm going to I'm going to understand that based on that information that I'm gathering during that phase, maybe we want to take the hard drive out of that, safeguard it until we're sure that their backup is working properly.
Brian DeVaultAll these things we use to make decisions around service delivery and during this process, we're gathering all those critical systems contact information. So it starts out as kind of data entry. Think about it like an Excel spreadsheet. And it's actually called critical systems contact lists. And so we're dividing these up into tiers. Obviously, servers are at a very high tier, things like printers or peripherals, scanners, USB. Those are at a lower tier.
Brian DeVaultGetting all of that information captured up front is critical to the service delivery aspect of the business because you can't deliver service on that laptop if you don't know who it is, who made it, what the manufacturer model number is, when it was purchased, all those things.
Communication with your outsourced team is extremely important when it comes to the success of the overall partnership. In fact, a white paper released by SourcingFocus.com shared a study stating that 28% of 1,000 respondents pointed out poor communication as the main reason for the failure of an outsourcing project.
Outsourcing can increase productivity by 10x to 100x according to Fundera. However, if communication with your outsourced partner is not effective, productivity can consequently be slowed down. Learning to communicate with your outsourced team effectively will ensure you are increasing productivity while getting the most out of your partnership.
Defining Critical Points of Contact
In order to foster a successful partnership with your outsourced provider, critical points of contact must be defined. This will look different within each organization. With a small company, we may see one person in charge of communication. On the other hand, a large company may have an entire team that is utilized for points of contact. Either way, defining who these people are on both side, will lead to smoother communication for everyone and quicker resolutions.
A defined workflow is needed for specific tasks that may come up and it is imperative for the outsourced partner to understand the workflow and build the familiarity of the organization. This is another benefit of outsourcing Managed Services — it allows you to build process and procedure.
Limit the Number of Communication Channels
Along with defining critical points of contact, it is also important to define where communication is going to occur. Having to look for something in hundreds of different places, especially when it comes to documents, files and other information about the project, can be frustrating and slow down productivity.
Choosing one communication channel will solve this problem before it begins. NETRIO using Microsoft Teams for all communication. If there are more channels than necessary, information can get lost. For example, communication regarding a decision or issue may be missed by critical points of contact if they are unsure of where to look for it.
Refrain From Over Communicating
Remember that you don’t need to be in constant communication with your Managed IT Provider. They are there to troubleshoot and have a proactive approach to managing your IT or other services. Over communicating can be just as harmful as a lack of communication. Trust is needed from both parties to have an efficient working relationship. However, verify the outcomes of projects and responsibilities. This will establish accountability and continue to build trust on both sides. Your outsourced partner wants to make sure they are doing a good job and doing the job to your satisfaction.
On the other hand, one of the key benefits of outsourcing is allowing people to stay in their lane and have more time to do the job they were hired to do. If you trust your provider, trust they are working for you all the time — not just when you hear from them.
Hopefully, this partnership will last a long time. In order for that to happen, you should always keep your engagements consistent. Keep up with the communication, join the monthly calls and let each other know you are there.
You always want the outsourced partner on your side and looking out for your best interest. They will be able to see problems coming and proactively respond. An outsourced relationship takes both parties committed to the success of the relationship for it to work.
NETRIO is here to help with all your managed outsource needs. Contact us today to start the conversation.
This blog post is part of NETRIO’s weekly White Board Wednesday series. Follow along on Linkedin and YouTube each week as Brian and Mike discuss use cases, new technology, and trends. The goal is to provide insights for enterprise customers and channel partners, trying to solve complex problems using technology.