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Business continuity and benchmarking

326 Comments · Business outsourcing

The final consideration in managing the business process outsourcing (BPO) transition is to ensure business continuity throughout the process.

It is to be expected that performance indicators for the outsourced process are likely to be down or flat during the early stages of the transition.

It might also occur that processes tightly linked to the outsourced process will also experience performance difficulties during this phase.

Despite the expected performance dips, managers should have detailed performance benchmarks that provide a means of judging the extent f the effect and whether intervention is required.

Business continuity during transformational change is difficult, often requiring long hours and skill-stretching behavior.

Managers who find frequent employee meetings and communication an annoyance will be challenged to stretch their skills in these areas.

The organization as a whole may need to work carefully with local media representatives, who may have spotted a human-interest story amidst the outsourcing-induced RIF.

Public relations and corporate communications, two units that may have been sleepily releasing good-news items on a regular basis, may now be called on to assertively address challenging questions about global job shifts and free trade.

Business continuity requires that the organization manage the internal disruptions to workflow by establishing acceptable limits on variation in normal performance.

Six Sigma goals may need to be relaxed slightly during the transition phase to account for the learning curve that will need to be traversed.

Yet, the organization does not want merely any result to count as acceptable. Reasonable, transition-phase-only benchmarks should be adopted and carefully monitored.

Managers should be ready to intervene only when performance falls below the benchmark value, and they should be equally vigilant to stay the course and allow employees to learn and improve the new system through the transition.

The latter is a difficult but necessary management tactic. Too-early intervention will short-circuit the learning process.

Performance levels should rise as the transition unfolds, and new performance peaks are more likely to be sustained if managers practice the discipline of allowing the mistakes and learning process to run its course.

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