Plug in your headphones, crank up the volume and ask yourself... are you ready for H day?
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How many of these images from the history of the Horses do you remember?
Has it occurred to you how unromatic and unsexy outsourcing can make you feel sometimes? Fed up with those rate cards, those legal wrangles and those penalty clauses, when all you really want is a nice big hug?
Well, the team over here at the Horses wants to make you feel loved this year on Valentine's Day. So drop us an email and we'll make send you a free copy of our recent "Seeking a New Normal in Outsourcing Delivery" survey findings... whether you're a customer, a vendor, or even a consultant... we love you all equally (well sort of).
Wouldn't it be refreshing if some outsourcing executives decided to try doing a few things differently this year? Here are some suggestions...
Stop using the word "transformation".
Start trying to be different from the rest of the pack, or at least admit it if you're not really any different (but are probably cheaper, or have a sexier brand, or something).
Stop espousing that you will bring "innovation" to a finance function when you're just lumping the invoice processing offshore.
Stop claiming you're recent infrastructure management deal was a "cloud transformation".
In fact, stop using the word "transformation".
And please stop wheeling out your only client of note as an example of "innovation" and "best practice" when:
1) You bought the deal in the first place,
2) We've heard it 20 times before, and
3) The client hates you anyway.
Stop claiming you do something, when you don't.
Stop claiming you can do something, when you can't.
Stop claiming ERP support is a "scarce expertise" that warrants a higher price-tag.
Stop copying your competitors' slideware.
Stop talking too much and actually listen.
Stop adopting other peoples' buzz phrases as your own.
Stop espousing that you will bring "transformation" to an HR function when you're just processing the payroll checks somewhere cheaper and using some limited piece of software that's only marginally better than the rubbish the client is currently using.
Start demonstrating how you actually did something unique with a client to help them be more efficient or generate more revenue.
Stop using the word "transformation".
Start being realistic.
Stop boring the living daylights out of everyone by tweeting all your press releases and thinking people actually will click on them.
And why not stop having meaningless meetings with sourcing advisors, when you're only going to talk about the same tired old deals everyone already knows about, and the client already knows who they're going to select in any case...
Hmmm... come to think of it, if everyone stuck to those, we probably wouldn't have an outsourcing industry anymore. So please ignore and carry on regardless...
Happy New Year and Rock On 2010 -:)
And on a less serious note, here's the more amusing side to 2009...
"A gorgeous, 8-color masterpiece which captures ever so brilliantly the three behavioral disorders propelling the continued phenomenal growth of today’s most widely-trafficked social media sites. And at the intersection of the dysfunctional forces of Narcissism, ADHD, and Stalking resides today’s fastest growing social media experiment of all- Twitter..."
There's never been much of a plan, just a platform for good discussion, sharing of ideas, and open debate on tough issues for the global sourcing industry - and all with a hint of cranky sarcasm. And we try to keep it unbiased...
Drop me a note if you have any suggestions on what you would like to see more/less of on here - your input is always welcome. And a special thank you to all of you who come here regularly and support this site (you know who you are).
Here are some favourite posts from the last 2 years:
Warning: some bad language, but extremely funny...
I'm still getting emails / tweets and calls from all sorts of people wanting to talk about the "sensational news" yesterday, on what was a record traffic day on the Horses. And if I haven't already made it plain enough, it was an April Fools joke. And while it was kinda funny, what hit home was how believable the story was.
Yes, protectionism already is the number one impediment to outsourcing growth over the next few months, but we're never going down anything like the crazy lines outlined in the post. What's nervy, however, in this era of rapid change, is the fact that so many people fell hook, line and sinker for that little prank. It made me realize how prepared so many people are for sensational changes to their way of life. And if you feel I went too far I do apologize, but everyone seems to have taken this in a good spirit. I really feel we need a sense of humor and a few laughs to help out out of this tough time...
The soon-to-be-appointed head of the outsourcing disciplinary committee
You may recall the classic post “Being middle-seated in the back-row”. Well, I think I can go one worse… by being middle-seated all the way to Orlando (gasp). Yes, I was stuck in hell all the way to purgatory...or was I stuck in purgatory all the way to the gates of hell?
Orlando is my version of a very, very bad dream: a world where you can actually buy a fake Guinness in a fake Irish pub, and get stuck behind entire families in lengthy queues where the kids start at 220lbs… you never normally ever see people like this, but somehow Orlando acts as a magnet for over-sized, under-cultured plasticity. Seriously, why bother with Guantanamo for interrogations? Just lock suspects in Epcot for a couple of days and we’ll find out who killed JFK, which Ritz-Carlton Osama Bin Laden resides in these days, and even where Bernie stashed his $50 billion…
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 :)
I recently ran my own analysis on what makes a blog compeling, but this takes cyber-guidelines to a new level -:)
When I arrived on these Western shores a few years ago from the Old Country, I made it a personal mission to ensure (some) Yankees around me learned that special brand of humor termed as sarcasm. This habit of mine seems to have spilled over into my blogging... My recent post "The Calamity Clients Awards, 2008" enticed a couple of people to contact me - one person asking where she should submit her vote, the other kindly advising me to find a way to scrap the vote before I offended someone.
For clarification, the purpose behind the Awful Outsourcing and Calamity Client awards was to
1) Make you laugh;
2) Have a subtle dig at some of the awards being banded around the outsourcing industry;
3) Raise some real issues concerning some struggling outsourcing engagements, and the fact it actually takes two-to-tango in this business (both vendors and clients).
Thanks for the many, many messages I did receive from those of you who did realize all three of the above points - very much appreciated, and makes me feel my original mission to induce sarcasm into the North American outsourcing industry is largely working :)
Anyway, I'll lurch back to more serious stuff next week... peace out
Definitely not serious...
Due to popular demand, we're adding an additional category to the 2008 Horses awards for Awful Outsourcing: "The Calamity Clients". Yes, it's not always vendors which are responsible for outsourcing calamity - it often takes two to tango, and this is the vendor's chance to counter-punch.
As there are several well-trodden paths towards calamitous outsourcing, we will be distributing several awards across the following non-specialist areas:
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:
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!
Apologies in advance to our German readers.. but you have to admit this is seriously funny :)
Welcome to a rather cool and cloudy Bangalore in June. Indians have no concept of how to slowdown in traffic: cars, motorbikes, trucks and buses all focus on where they are headed, and, as opposed to their looking around to check the way is clear, they hoot their horns to tell others to get out of their way, with a fearless disregard of the risks and consequences. The same can be said of their rampant services industry, where their businesses have refused to slowdown, check their wing mirrors or pad their brakes, in fear that their revenues or profit margins will be seriously derailed. Here's the evidence:
I'm currently on a three-week outsourcing excursion across France, UK, Belgium and then India... so I thought I'd entertain you all with some pictures and musings along the way. Am currently enjoying the hospitality of a outsourcing provider which owns this rather charming estate... can you guess which provider it is?
Anyone from the UK will appreciate this...
In these troubling economic times, most firms are tightening their belts to keep those unnecessary costs down while we look to ride out this recession. I used to charge $500/hour for dishing out this kind of advice, but I thought I'd give out some cost-cutting tips to Horses-readers as a gesture of economic goodwill:
1) Make all your senior managers and sales people fly Northworst. You'll be amazed at how many of those "critical" business trips go away....
2) Reduce the "on the road" food budget to $30 a day. (Makes everyone order pizza to their rooms, rather than those terrible room service burgers);
3) Enforce a zero-tolerance policy on alcohol products to be expensed. This will automatically reduce 25-50% from your bottom-line. (Better than any outsourcing initative);
4) Send all your lowest performers on Six Sigma certification training. They'll either disappear from your payroll completely, or have a complete epiphany and start delivering the goods;
5) Seek out the cheapest, most desperate outsourcing service provider you can find and get them to take on all your messed-up HR, finance, procurement and customer service processes. Hire a razor sharp sourcing attorney to include performance-levels you would never have dreamed possible - and which you would never have ever reached yourself in a million years. Wait one year, do nothing, and they are guaranteed to have missed every single performance metric. Now you can sue them for a small fortune for lost revenues that you would never have made in the first place. Genious;
6) Sign a corporate deal with Red-roof Inn for any off-plan sales reps. There is no better way to improve performance;
7) Completely refocus your entire business strategy on producing mind-numbing facebook applications. You can't go wrong, trust me.
Time to look at new means to lower those corporate costs -:)
I am delighted to announce that today's guest post is from none other than Mr John Cleese of Monty Python and Basil Fawlty folklore. I'm afraid Mr Cleese has some rather disturbing news for you Americans. Over to you John....
Coming from the old country and spending the last few years adjusting to life in the new world, it's about time I started sharing some observations over the cultural chasm that exists. However, it's probably better I leak out my views in digestible chunks to avoid risk of deportation. Anyway, let's start with sport:
• Everyone In the West Wing will have to work until 9PM every night so taxpayers feel they are getting their money’s worth
• He will have walked every congress member through the “State of the Union” address prior to presenting it In order to gain consensus and avoid any political land mines
• The US Budget will be delivered as one large spreadsheet full of pivot tables
• All official White communications will be done in PowerPoint
• White House meal budget will increase six fold
• Cabinet members will need to have a hypothesis prior to engaging in any official business
• The President’s salary will be done through a SOW
• The US will have the greatest strategy, but none of it will ever happen
• He will start planning reelection immediately as a means of “follow-on work”
.... have a great 2008 to readers of Horses for Sources :)
Burger King is certainly stepping up its customer retention initatives, as typified with this creative new campaign highlighted by the Human Capitalist. Not only is the fast food giant driving customer loyalty, but it also is leveraging the latest sourcing models to drive down costs and improve the customer experience....
To emphasize the global nature of outsourcing, I downloaded this fancy "Feedjit" widget onto the blog the other day to show a regional map of visitors to this site (see left column). I was excited to see visitors from places as far flung as China, Belarus, Sweden, Malaysia, Brazil and Australia, but started to get concerned when I got a hit from....er.... CANADA?
What's going on - I didn't think that Internet thing had made it up there yet? I must complain to Feedjit about the accuracy of this tool "grin*...
Mooses for Sources next?
OK... I didn't get middle-seated today, but having had successive days of dental work, overdoses of Novocaine, followed by blood-work... then slipping on ice and spraining my ankle, I am a leetle beet cranky..... so here we go:
People who NEVER do any work, but always complain how busy they are;
People who pretend to be your best pal to get you to do them something, then you never hear from them again;
People who are constantly "selling", to the point where you have no clue who they are anymore;
Company politics...aargh (what more can I say);
People who hide the fact they have limited knowledge in something by gibbering a load of b******* to the point that everyone in the room switches off;
People who are constantly re-arranging a meeting, when the amount of time they spend re-arranging the damn thing, they could have just called you and had the necessary discussion (besides, how can their schedule be so packed if they are sitting in front of outlook all day);
People who cancel meetings at the last minute - ALL the time;
People who accept meeting invitations and blow you off with no explanation;
People who try to make you look incompetent;
Former colleagues who simply "must get together for a drink" and ALWAYS take a rain check at the last minute;
People who keep changing their mind to the point that you want to throttle them;
People with ADD (I may fall into this one too....);
People who fly somewhere for an internal meeting they could just have easily have had on the phone;
People who fly 1st class for sub- 2hour trips;
People who leave their cellphones on their desks when they wander off somewhere and subject you to a very cheesy ring-tone;
People who eat some stinky microwaved meal at their desk and pollute the entire area;
People who have to run to Starbucks every hour;
People who just aren't very nice;
Sales people who take credit for anything that got sold, even though all they did was process the PO;
People who start using their Blackberry while you are talking to them;
Europeans who drop everything at 5.00pm... (I'm a Euro, so can get away with saying that...);
People who complain all the time, then claim that YOU complain a lot to someone else.....
OK.. that's enough!
Early morning photo....
2) I grew up in London and Cambridge (UK). My hometown friends are all lunatics who refuse to act their age;
3) I have lived and worked in the UK, France, US, Singapore and Australia;
4) My wife, Pooneh, is Canadian (pictured) and I am a Brit living in Boston, MA;
5) My favorite things to do (apart from watching sport) involve skiing and drinking exorbitant red wine;
6) I would like to retire as soon as I can swing it;
7) I had this very embarrassing piece written about me by "FAOToday" last year...but it's worth a giggle: Download Fersht_FAOCover_Story.pdf
Today, for the first time, I got middle-seated - in the back row - courtesy of Delta Airlines. Not only that, we sat on the tarmac in Atlanta for 2 hours waiting for the "traffic" to clear (heh?). So I got thinking about some of the things in life that irritate me.....
Being middle-seated - in the back row
LinkedIn invitations from people I don't know, or will ever have the need to know
Being middle-seated - in the back row
Basketball...the first 59 minutes
Being middle-seated - in the back row
People who talk incessantly about themselves
Stale coffee in airports
Hotel room service charges
Just being middle-seated
Taxis with no A/C
Taxis that smell
The term 'RPO'
American airlines coffee
Trying to get anything with Best Buy rewards points
British tourists at Disney
Americanized Chinese food (you know the place)
People who stick on 16 when the dealer's packing a high number
Macdonald's salads (why?)
That guy on Fox News (work it out...)
American commentary on world cup football (soccer) matches
That arrogant Brit on American idol
James Patterson novels
Donald Trump's sweep-over
Bad sales reps
People who pretend to be my friend when they want something
Steely Dan 'best of' albums
Being middle-seated - ESPECIALLY in the back row
The UK's most Irritating export?