Discuss, debate and exchange ideas on latest trends and opportunities in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) landscape. Deliberate on adding “business value” to clients, vendors, employees and various other stakeholders to enhance customer satisfaction and sustain long term partnerships.

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December 19, 2012

Eight things you wanted to know about Managed Review Legal Project Management (but were always afraid to ask)

Eight simple answers to eight key questions about Managed Review Legal Project Management

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August 23, 2012

Achieving Cost reduction and World Class operations in a Finance Department - is it a Paradox?

There is a need for the Finance Department to reach World Class standards and at the same time reduce costs. This calls for a transformation in the way in which Finance organization operates.

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June 14, 2012

Supply Risks - Aim, Focus, Shoot

So how are we approaching supply risks? 

There are different approaches to establish risk management framework for supply chain.  One can argue that the traditional enterprise wide risk management frameworks, which start with identification of risks can be adapted to Supply.  Having seen both sides of the coin, as a Risk Manager and a Sourcing & Procurement Professional, I would tend to argue for a simple yet effective approach - embed your supply risk management as part of your Category management framework and Sourcing Process.

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June 6, 2012

Greed is good - Particularly for Procurement

As a Sourcing and Procurement professional, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I've been driven by greed to get highest value on my spending and I'm not ashamed to accept that. What about you?

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June 4, 2012

Are your sourcing goals futuristic too?

So how did your sourcing function perform this year? 

Our performance indicators are usually measured by targets, that are linked to measurable corporate and functional goals.  For sourcing, typically goals fall into 3 categories - savings, supply and supplier performance.  Definitely these goals aid the annual corporate results year on year.  But do they also cater to the future evolution of the Sourcing function?

Continue reading "Are your sourcing goals futuristic too?" »

March 22, 2012

Back to basics -- Putting help back into the help desk

It is the dotted-lined bridge that HR leaders have to cross to evolve, from just being the basic administration department providing the threadbare solutions to being the Human Resource department which is adept at tackling the employee-specific problems.

The industry today is plagued with the assembly line approach. Once the HR head of a company remarked that, "95% of the time, things are fine and predictable. It is how well you manage the other 5% that sets you apart from the ordinary".

Most employee helpdesk models (that I have seen) are designed to just address the 95% of the most common queries and end up providing no added value. The real challenge is how well helpdesks manage the other 5%. And, in general, helpdesk models are weak in doing this.

Employee queries often arise during the first few weeks of joining or when they get transferred to a new location or when they move to a new role. Proactively addressing some of the potential issues that a new joinee may have can go a long way in improving employee engagement. Better still, is the idea of assigning a "Helpdesk buddy" for a new joinee that s/he can call for help during the initial days.

The other model is to find out the most annoying moments during the first 90 days of a new job and create simple text messages that can be delivered to the employee's mobile phone. I am sure I would have loved to get them during my initial days.

Another idea is to categorize helpdesk support based on the roles people play in an organization. Many helpdesks designers tend to follow "one-size-fits-all" idiom and lose out on customizing. As a salesman, I would be more worried about the calculation of commission or travel; while as a factory worker, it could be on overtime or safety. A helpdesk that just talks about 'generic' HR policy queries may not find a lot of 'likes'.

In the BG days (Before Google) days, remember the frustration of using the help feature that used to come with software? You needed to remember the exact terms and even the capitalizations words to get to the right kind of information. Today, in the AG (After Google) days, queries are universally accessible through a variety of blogs and social websites which are user-generated. You can now practically get answers to almost any question - a quality that the helpdesk should be heading to. Imagine how helpful that would be.

The online community model -- where users take ownership of the community -- should work its way into the enterprise HR model. Answers to employee queries should be fresh and updated, generated by those working in the company. This will increase employee engagement as well as shift the onus of responsibility solely from the HR leaders to the users themselves - the employees.

To gain a better understanding of the role of BPO in HR, access Maheedharan Thiagarajan's Point of View to 'Transform to the Human Resources Face of Tomorrow'.

March 13, 2012

Enhancing the Fitness of Purchasing Departments - Analogies from Human Life

I am sure any stakeholder to a Purchasing department would rate or view their performance based on their experiences with this department. And obviously, stakeholders could be internal (CXO executives, user departments/budget owners, sourcing & procurement team members themselves etc.) and/or external (suppliers, auditors, consultants etc.).

Not so positive views could be "they are slow, they are impediments, signifying "thou shall not buy" attitude always; they just don't understand what value suppliers can add or what is the importance of what is being bought but seem to be always beating down the prices" etc. Positive and encouraging views could be something like "they are knowledgeable folks always helpful to collaborate for our needs while also making sure that firm gets value on what it spends; they have helped me specify what I need better; they have helped save significant costs when we needed the cash the most, etc.". And then, there could be mixed views like "sometimes they delight me but sometimes they perform in a very disappointing way for a critical project; why do they vary so much?"

Allow me to oversimplify such observations and metrics for a simple, intuitive analysis by rating combined experiences on a "4 point Purchasing Fitness Scale - Run seamlessly (1), Jog comfortably (2), Walk briskly (3) or Walk slowly (4)". If the predominant rating score is 4 (suggest taking the mode and not the average or median here), purchasing department's impression can be termed as equivalent to a BMI 35+ or sick or non-agile human being. On the other extreme, a rating score of 1 will give an image of a person able to run fast and for long distances effortlessly (like Usain Bolt or Belgian Stefan Engels who ran 365 marathons in one year). Imagining the other two rating scores and corresponding fitness conditions should be a mere formality now for the reader of this post.

So what are the mantras to enhance and maintain the fitness of Purchasing departments to be able to run processes equivalent to 1 marathon per day? A simple analogy from life again should help here, which I will describe now (a number of you would have experienced this too I am sure). A sedentary person decides to get active and takes the 1st step. He/she goes for a medical checkup, takes findings from doctor(s), physiotherapists and dieticians to evolve a scientific, practical, diet-fitness-relaxation regime. Firms can do something similar by engaging a specialized procurement consulting, BPO and technology partner firm (specialist doctors, physiotherapists and dietician all available in one hospital). The 2nd step the person takes is to seriously invest time, interest and resources to implement the regime - irrespective of whether he/she has to travel, go to the gym or work out at home, maintain perseverance and discipline whether it rains or partying becomes too much etc. Firms can do the same themselves or take the help again of a partner firm. Invest and implement into best practices based processes, technology solutions, people, information/intelligence etc. Outsource whatever makes you slow / loath and keep in-house whatever makes you faster and better instead. Set targets, measure constantly and report frequently.

So what happens next? Simple and intuitive again. Results start showing up. A person who was barely able to walk, is able to jog and run comfortably over a period of time as a result of following the 1st and 2nd step. Such transformations can be astonishing and are yet very real (I am sure that many of you would have experienced/seen such seminal folks around you). Once again, firms experience the same. The perception of Purchasing department changes along with its overall performance. It starts to be viewed as an agile, fit and ever-energetic department that is always rated 1, as it runs seamlessly to meet the firm's long and short term objectives adding tremendous value.

So get active! Take the 1st and 2nd steps to make your Purchasing department run seamlessly. Good luck to all the readers!

June 3, 2011

Infosys Takes Sourcing & Procurement Engagements to Next Level with Joint Innovation Board

Today as procurement outsourcing matures, buyers are looking to their providers to create additional value. But there is a need for clearly distinguishing between the value proposition for Sourcing and that for Procurement. Buyers can realize benefits from procurement outsourcing very quickly due to labor arbitrage because of the transactional nature of the activities. However because of its more strategic nature, it is on the sourcing side that a provider's technology tools, business transformation, and process innovation can have a multiplier effect in increasing value for the buyer. Clients are realizing this and we are seeing several major trends. Clients are asking for business-outcome based relationships, they are asking for help in transforming their businesses, and the nature of work that they outsource is also becoming more complex, requiring more expertise.

We are also seeing that clients often go beyond their initial contracts and sign up for long-haul transformation roadmaps when they begin to gain confidence in our expertise. As the relationship matures we also gain confidence that clients will invest over the long term. This confidence building happens faster when the relationship has visibility and support at senior management levels on both sides. Once clients are comfortable asking us to deliver more value, we move on to setting up a dedicated innovation program - a procurement innovation board - with dedicated resources to drive transformation and innovation. This typically happens in large strategic engagements and here the innovation board prioritizes ideas and helps secure funding to implement them. For clients with smaller engagements we offer a lot of flexibility and help them experiment and gain confidence to grow into larger engagements. 

In a recent chat with Kathleen Goolsby (Editor of Outsourcing Buzz), my colleague Srikrishna (Kris) Koneru and I, spoke about these recent trends in the Sourcing & Procurement space and how mature client engagement can drive larger more transformational deals. Click here to read the interview.

March 3, 2011

Where for are thou Supplier Recovery?


I just got off the phone with Allison Griffiths who organizes and manages the Warranty Chain Management (WCM) conference which will take place in two weeks outside San Diego. I asked her during our chat what tracks at the conference this year address Supplier Recovery. We've seen some activity on this lately and wanted to make sure that I found out what was the latest in process and technology in this critical area. The answer to my question is just one track which will be presented by Volvo. Pretty thin if you are looking for the latest and greatest. No vendors with exciting tools for this challenging area and no industry 'gurus' pontificating on how to improve performance.

So why is that? 

Continue reading "Where for are thou Supplier Recovery?" »

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