Sunday, July 04, 2010

Outsourcing blues - Managing Client Politics

Every organization has its share of internal politics with so many different groups having conflicting interests. It is always a great challenge for a CIO to negotiate all these political alignments within the organization and implement an IT strategy spanning across different groups, departments, business units etc.

In most organizations, IT is still seen as a major cost center. While a lot of investments are required to build and maintain IT systems, the tangible benefits are less. The benefits may come in different form - increased sales, better employee productivity, higher customer satisfaction etc. But most of these benefits are intangible and cannot be expressed in numbers (profits). Hence it becomes very difficult for a CIO to convince the rest of the organization on investing more in IT systems.

While an 'in-house' CIO and IT department themselves have a huge task in negotiating the political alignments, the situation becomes even more challenging when you throw in an outsourcing vendor or worse, multiple outsourcing vendors. Although the practice of Outsourcing is fast spreading across the developed world, there are also a number of concerns among the employees of the outsourcing company - Loss of jobs, loss of control / power within their departments, distrust of foreign players etc.Under such circumstances, negotiating organizational politics of the client is one big problem faced by the vendors. More often than not, the vendors have to work with multiple departments and implement systems spanning across the organization. Being outsiders, they do not have the required political clout within the client company to force the warring parties to the negotiating table. The result - Non-cooperation, deliberate witholding of information, political manipulations, blaming the vendors for anything that goes wrong etc.