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The Official Blog of Acuity Knowledge Partners

The Secret to a Successful Research Partnership

Published on September 26, 2016 by Karan Sehgal

Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) has a huge upside; both in terms of time and money; and a great amount of due diligence is performed before a client finalizes an outsourcing partner. Outsourcing firms are aware of the process and the apprehensions surrounding outsourcing, and use the due diligence exercise as an opportunity to showcase their capabilities and integrity – the two pillars that form the foundation of a business.

Once we get on with actual business, clients can either love us or hate us depending on how the engagement delivers. There are many plausible factors that determine whether things work out or not – understanding of the requirements, both parties being on the same page with respect to the expectations, and the teams on either side not meeting the expectations. These are all part of a long list of conclusions that can be drawn after a postmortem analysis.

But there is a secret ingredient that, I believe, makes or breaks engagements, irrespective of the above-mentioned plausible reasons. The ingredient is simple, yet complex: the client needs to be comfortable with outsourcing, and this has to be both at the decision-maker level and, more importantly, at the gatekeeper level.

In my experience, engagements that have done well are those where clients have passed on a positive message around outsourcing and have all stakeholders on the same page – the key here is how they convey the very important message of “why outsourcing is being done and how it will benefit the very people who will be interacting daily with the outsourcing entity.”

As the K, P, O industry has evolved, clients have warmed up to the proposition of outsourcing larger chunks of routine tasks. This has led to large dedicated teams being set up, in addition to short and complex ad hoc engagements. This trend demands a great level of comfort and trust between the two parties, as the cost and effort involved in a dedicated setup is far bigger than that in a one-off ad hoc engagement.

When clients manage their internal expectations well, the client teams interacting with the third party understand that we are there to help ease their pressure and workload, that we are an extended team sitting on the other side of the globe, and that we are partnering with them to meet their business objectives. There is a sense of understanding and a belief that the outsourcing entity is indeed a helping hand and not a hostile entity threatening to take their jobs away.

This may seem obvious and simple, but right messaging is the key to making an engagement a success.

We, at Acuity Knowledge Partners, believe in using a partnering approach, where our foremost focus is on understanding client issues and pain points, and trying to develop a solution around it. On certain engagements in our consulting practice, we have gone beyond the brief and helped our clients unearth the real business problems and make more informed business decisions using our extensive research capabilities.

We pride ourselves in helping our clients solve business problems and developing robust processes to help them offload both routine and complex tasks, which eventually helps them focus more on customization and more complex business issues. Initially, our focus is on ensuring that we work as an extended arm of the client teams. Besides, in cases where we handle their processes, our aim is to ensure seamless and efficient process migration.


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About the Author

Senior AVP, Private Equity Research

Karan is part of the Private Equity team at Acuity Knowledge Partners and is responsible for providing research and business development support to clients.

He has over 9 years of experience in account management and solutions selling in the KPO space, and has worked in different capacities in the pre-sales, sales, and operations functions over the course of his career. Prior to joining Acuity Knowledge Partners, Karan worked with Dun & Bradstreet as Account Manager and with another KPO in their Marketing and Sales Operations team.

Karan holds a Bachelor of Technology degree from Jaypee University of Information Technology, Solan, and has recently completed a postgraduate program in Business Analytics from Great Lakes Institute of Management.

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