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Strong partnership with client teams: An impetus for successful outsourcing engagements

Published on September 23, 2014 by Rajul Sood

Service provider relationships are evolving multifold as businesses transcend boundaries and become truly “global”. In the nascent stages of outsourcing, approximately a decade ago, an analyst would start engaging directly with a client – by either calling, emailing or receiving feedback – only after he had spent about a year or more working devotedly on the team.

But today, due to the close integration of processes, an analyst is introduced to a client through a “video conference”, as soon as he hits the floor. He becomes a “part of the onshore team” and works in close proximity on a regular basis.

So what has really transformed through all these years? What has changed? Is it a “hold-at-bay” attitude or a “close-to-the-vest” relationship that wins? What defines a successful client relationship in outsourcing?

Quality is paramount for success

Outsourcing is no longer considered a means of re-allocating “expensive problems” or “reducing costs”. Today “service delivery” is largely defined as success in meeting client expectations on a project to project basis. Exceeding client expectations revolves around consistency; to do so, maintaining “excellent” quality is a principal concern.

Cultural alignment

Our teams and clients have created a new dynamic culture that aligns business practices, values, expectations and interests. We “meet and talk” to the client often and exchange thoughts with them on what’s happening “on the floor”. Our projects are similar; hence, we follow comparable compliance procedures and go through similar training. We have created a platform where we talk openly about what clients expect and how our services can be enhanced!

Transparency

Being honest and transparent with your clients and ensuring they are satisfied will give you more work. “Keeping the client in the loop” at every stage of the deliverable and execution, and at every stage of the engagement is imperative. We look at issues from a different perspective and we tackle them with utmost urgency.

Regular interaction

Some say governance meetings are absolutely critical. However, many say that ad hoc and informal communication is more effective. Business relationships are human relationships that work best when you maintain regular and open communication. During my first dinner with the client about five years ago, all I asked was how her kids were doing. After that, our dinner extended to four hours. That is where we made a ‘connect’ and this is still prevalent in our relationship.

Innovation and continuous improvement

“Innovation and improvement” are no longer just a part of the Master Service Agreement. Clients want their teams to be “strategic thought partners” who can consistently infuse innovation and creativity to the engagement. Adding value is essential and innovation is harbored through allowing minds to work freely; that in turn enables solutions to be generated for all kinds of situations.

We believe that it is a blend of ‘hold-at-bay’ and keeping client interests ‘close-to-the-vest’ that creates a win-win relationship in outsourcing. It is always more than ‘just a contract’. It is a partnership between two teams and two organizations, to create a culture of insight versus oversight. What we have learnt is that offshore teams need to work as an ‘extension of client teams’. This increases ownership and allows us to take the onus of ensuring that quality is always delivered.


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About the Author

Senior Director - Commercial Lending

Rajul heads the commercial lending practice at Acuity Knowledge Partners and has been with the firm for over 15 years. She is responsible for strategic planning, delivery oversight and management, quality assurance and supporting the innovation and technology initiatives in Lending. Rajul has extensive experience in investment banking analytics and commercial lending research services. Apart from banks, the teams she oversees also have in-depth experience in working across different lending products, processes and systems for Fortune 100 companies, SMEs and real-estate businesses. She holds a Master of Finance and Control, and a Bachelor of Commerce from Delhi University.

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