Five Steps to Keeping your Business

Offshore teams delivered a significant portion of the products and services for the companies I worked for. My experience in utilizing offshore whether it is measured in years, number of projects or dollars sent offshore is rather substantial. You would think that by now I should have settled on a couple partners who I use on the majority of my engagements the way most VPEs settle on DB platform, app server, language, etc. Actually that is not the case due to many reasons, the main being different needs call for different partners. There is however another reason worth serious discussion – many vendors lose their clients mainly by not doing good enough of a job of keeping them. Whether you look from the vendor’s or buyer’s side that’s a shame…

escher_ascendingIt’s a common knowledge that in the service industries the cost of a dollar earned from a new customer is substantially higher than from an existing relationship. Yet for some reason that rule is ignored with unexplainable consistency. In particular I see it common with some of my offshore vendors. All too often a relationship with an offshore vendor goes through typical stages of a bad marriage: courting, expensive wedding, honeymoon, initial struggles, mundane irritation, aggravated frustration, and bitter divorce.

It takes two to tango, and being unbiased marriage counselor I should offer my connubial advice to both sides – buyers and sellers. I will, with this post focused on the vendor’s side:

  • Communication is critical element of any engagement and in particular distributed. Even two people who know each other exceptionally well and live under one roof are known to have communication problems, it’s no surprise offshore engagement fall apart due to communication problems. Communication problems have a cumulative nature, meaning that small issues accumulate and result in large scale problems. There is much to be said (and I will do that) about improving communications in offshoring engagements, for now just one critical aspect: You should establish and follow communication process. You should treat communication process as you would treat a manufacturing process. In particular consider no missed steps or other changes to the process unless you expect substantial improvement in efficiency AND the changes are agreed upon by all stakeholders. Continue reading

Notes from a Data Entry Gig

Large pool of cheap resources sometimes is enough of a motivation to outsource tasks. Sometime even those that you might not have done in the first place ;) It also is very tempting to engage manual labor rather than create, debug and use tools. Those reasons along with some business drivers were behind a data entry project I started a few weeks ago. While small and fairly simple the project offered a few interesting lessons to learn and a couple of interesting points to share.

  1. There are many places where you can find freelancers. Most of those places offer offshore labor. Even local resources such as craigslist will generate more response from offshore than from locals, even if you specify “locals only”. In my case I was specifically looking for offshore resources and the rock bottom rates. I knew that every site has its own community of freelancers, what was somewhat surprising is how substantial the difference in response would be. Response to my ad from 5 sites I tried in the first 3 days was 0, 2, 3, 6, and 78. The last figure was the response from oDesk community. It’s no surprise that the best candidates also came from oDesk. As a matter of fact I ended up to picking all providers from oDesk (I was looking for 5 people).
  2. The rates diversity was quite surprising as well. My project which was a basic internet research and data entry attracted freelancers from all over the world with majority of applicants from India, Pakistan and Philippines. There were a couple bids from USA (I frankly doubt that the work was planned to be performed by USA resources though). The lowest bid was $0.78 an hour (Bangladesh), the highest was $26 an hour (India).
  3. The quality of responses varied greatly from thoughtful and professional to “Need a job!”, the last one incidentally was one of the highest bids as well.
  4. Fit between the job and skill set was decent with a few exceptions even though I had somewhat of a difficult time categorizing my project – fitting it into one of the categories / subcategories provided by the sites.
  5. Each of the sites has its own idiosyncrasies and proprietary conventions; that makes search for freelancers across several sites rather cumbersome. In this case I did not have to work across the sites – the difference in response clearly made oDesk a better place to seek for my resources. That is not always the case though. In particular many type of projects such as web design, graphical arts, etc. would find equally strong support on many sites.
  6. For this project pruning candidates was not complex – I cut off everyone with rate above $5 an hour and those who did not appeared to put any efforts into their bid. That still gave me about 25 candidates, at that point ratings and hours worked helped me quickly pick top ten.
  7. I did not put a lot of efforts in the “Interviewing”; a quick email exchange quickly showed whether the person appeared professional and responsive enough. A few of candidates requested Skype conversations, that was a bit more time consuming and I am not sure whether for this kind of project the time is justified.
  8. I picked 7 suppliers (my target was 5). Can you guess why? Of course the quality of suppliers, especially when you scrape the bottom of the rate barrel is a hit or miss. One of them “did not show up for work” after the bid was accepted, one turned out so dense that I had to stop working with her after two days into the project.
  9. I now have only three suppliers left. All three are from Philippines and all are doing a decent job. The rates are 1.11, 2.78 and 3.33 an hour. The communications are sufficient. Productivity as expected or even better. I think so far I can call this project a success.

If you are facing a data entry, web scraping, email response, etc. project here are a couple tips I suggest for you to consider:

  1. Using freelancing sites saves time of sourcing candidates, simplifies management, and helps with payment aspects.
  2. Today the rate target could be $3 an hour plus / minus a buck.
  3. Have a very simple, concise and unambiguous project description. A step by step operating procedure should be developed. (remember the 3rd fundamental rule of outsourcing?)
  4. Do not invest too much effort in selection of the candidates; it’s easier and faster to start another project and get a bunch of new candidates than try to pick just the right ones. Using the project above as example – the candidates I thought were the best are no longer on my team, one of them was the no-show.
  5. Use the site communication methodology rather than your own email. That reduces the clutter in your own inbox and helps with categorization of email and follow up.

I guess that’s as much as this project deserves. I am kicking off  a SEO/SEM project shortly. It will be a bit different will see how it pans out and whether there is much to learn from it.

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Basics of Non-verbal Communications

I started talking about body language and non-verbal communications (commonly referred as NVL) a while ago kicking off the discussion with a picture of consummate liar. NVL is a general topic that applies across industries and domains, the reason I bring it up here is that NVL is exceptionally important during face to face interactions with your partners. The cross cultural aspect of offshore relationships introduces whole another layer of complexity to NVL, often complicating already perplexing aspects of communications. To understand it you need to have a solid grasp on basics of NVL. Crawl before you run so to say. Of course understanding basics of NVL will help you in many other aspects of communications both professional and personal.

Of course this post is only a few brash strokes on a canvas – if you find NVL topic of interest you may want to look into a few books which I found helpful. Anyway…

Body language or non-verbal language refers to conveying messages without words. We are accustomed to use common gestures which are the “words” of NVL for example nodding your head in agreement or shaking it in disagreement, facial expressions – smile, frown, disgust, etc. Many or NVL “words” are much more subtle though. They do communicate message to outside world sometimes much louder than plain words would.

In a personal spoken message according to Albert Mehrabian (Psychology Today, 1968) the total message is communicated via:

  • 7% is conveyed by the words
  • 38% by the vocal tones, and
  • 55% by facial and body expression

How about that? More than half of the message comes across via body language! Talk about the Cons of outsourcing! When you work with someone and do not see him or her the chances are you will miss half of what they are saying or it will take twice as long.

More so the body language is less controlled by our conscious mind and often radiates the true message. Just look around and you will see plenty examples of it. I started writing this post while on my way to the office in BART, as on purpose to help me with an example a couple walked in the car and sit across. The couple was having one of those discussions: her eyes were red and full of tears; they sit on the bench at least a foot apart, her fist were clinched and body pasture uptight / uneasy. He was much more relaxed and appeared in control, he was the one doing all the talking in very persuasive somewhat mechanical manner, the topic was apparently very emotional and she was hanging on his every word, looking deep into his eyes. I could not hear a word yet it was somewhat clear that he did something that had hurt her and now was explaining / asking for forgiveness. By the Fruitvale station there was no more distance between them, his arm was on her shoulders, at the West Oakland they kissed lightly, by the Embarcadero station the kiss was real, the fight was over, and the guy was forgiven. She relaxed as if the seat suddenly became 100 times cozier and looked so much happier, so did he… What she did not see during the conversation, as she was maintaining that rare unbreakable eye contact, was his body language and all classical signs of deception. For me as a side observer sings were obvious as if I was watching an NVL training tape – here is the hand to mouth move, now he’s rubbing his neck, and here goes that proverbial blinking… As I was walking out of the car I saw her happy smile. Isn’t love grant?

There are a few very important elements to reading NVL:

  • North American gestures do not necessarily represent gestures correctly in other ethnic cultures. As a matter of fact you need to make sure to read up on foreign NVL before getting involved in face to face communication with your offshore partners, innocent or positive gestures could be offensive in other cultures, e.g. infamous American feet on the table the gesture that is extremely impolite in many cultures and exceptionally offensive in the Middle East.
  • Many people can easily control what their NVL broadcasts to the outside world in an initial stage of conversation or its “static” stages. For example anyone can start a conversation with a smile, specific body position, etc. As the conversation moves along and becomes more engaging / more emotional the mind loses its control over NVL. If you are trying to read NVL pay specific attention to changes in NVL. Changes in NVL are significantly more important than “stance” or specific elements of NVL displayed for a period of time.
  • You are probably not the only one who is NVL aware. More so some people put substantial effort in mastering in NVL outbound communications and use it as powerful deception or influence techniques. For example a powerful technique taught in many sales classes is mirroring – mimicking conversation partner’s body language. Mirroring is known to increase chances of positive outcome of the conversation – closing the deal; it comes from one of core principals of influence theory; that’s a whole another topic for discussion.

Well, that probably covers the main elements of the foundation.

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More Thoughts on ESL

A while ago when still a student I stumbled upon a great supplemental income opportunity: a friend of mine, an editor in a science journal, was looking for part time interpreters. The task was quite simple: writing summaries of technical articles. To me my French even though practically non-existent seemed strong enough to do that maybe, just maybe, with some support of a dictionary. I stopped at my friend’s office and he handed off to me a half a dozen articles on various medical topics. I was quite flabbergasted and asked – why medical? I am a technical guy. Math, engineering, maybe software, but why medical? My friend just smiled – if I give you articles in your specialty I will only get back what you know of the subject, chances are, that everything new and or controversial will be missed, and that’s assuming that you know French well… After a few nights of checking every word in a dictionary and still not being able to put the puzzles together I decided to switch to different means of making money.

I have seen the same phenomena with many technology professionals for whom English is somewhat of a struggle. They often step back and rely on their technical skills in understanding their client needs, interpreting the information inflow, often to the detriment of the project. That in particular common for advanced ESLers. When working face to face with native speakers and not communication related misunderstandings are easier to address, non-verbal language and timely feedback are of great help in this case. When you introduce the offshore factor, the time and cultural differences on the top of language handicap communications mistakes accumulate and widen the gap in understanding. Technology professionals have a tendency to bridge the gap with things they are familiar with and make decisions on behalf of the client.

Dealing with this issue requires efforts on both sides and unfortunately there is no panacea. Trying to get every assumption documented and signed off is a recipe for a productivity disaster, leaving things up for interpretation by developers is asking for even more troubles. Many of the tools I find helpful and efficient in this case come from agile development practice, in particular short release cycles and frequent demos.

Of course learning English remains to be one of the most important tasks on the provider side. But with over 600,000 words it’s easier said than done. Classes and books will only get you a fraction of the way there. What can one do to continuously advance in that utmost important skill while keeping they day job? We take our chances and use different methodologies. For me motivational tapes from Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, and Anthony Robbins were the main tool not only in building the vocabulary but changing my Russian gloom and doom attitude. Some people listen to NPR some watch a lot of movies. Having mentioned that lat me share with you a story I hear from Kirill (offshore development manager for a large s/w company on weekdays and my blog reader in his spare time). He told me about a Russian developer manager who took watching movies to heart; he also combined business and pleasure and watched primarily action movies. Being very gifted in terms of language he built broad vocabulary of words and idiomatic expressions, a lot of idiomatic expressions unfortunately mostly borrowed from Dirty Harry wannabes. That did not do him particular well :( If you are working on your language skills here is Kirill’s advice –

One of my guys in St. Petersburg has outstanding English and I asked him how he had mastered it. He said that he listened regularly to free podcasts at I checked the site out and downloaded tons (close to 5G) of historical podcasts. Topics are pretty basic, but the language they use and pronunciation is very good. I wish I had something like this when I just came over here :)

Well, as the say it’s better late than never – I’m signing up …

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10 Offshore Deal Showstoppers

I love English and it is slowly becoming my true second language. While English is still very much a work in progress for me I think I am doing better every day. Nowadays I can even challenge some native speakers with language questions that would get them quite puzzled. For example, is a “showstopper” a good thing? Almost anyone working in IT industry will tell you – No, that’s a very bad thing. Well, it is not exactly correct – take a look in a dictionary… Anyway, I am planning on covering a few showstoppers (in IT sense of the word) that I consider a deal breakers when it comes to hiring an offshore outsourcing vendor.

1. Acting like an idiot –fighting with me, bragging, being condescending, doubting my intelligence, etc. I have seen all too often vendors torpedo themselves by acting rather shallow. Here are just a couple of real life examples:

  • “Nick, we hear it all the time… What a dumb question!”
  • “Why use Skype? We’ll set you up with the software we developed in house – it is 100 times better.”
  • “Nick, you just don’t understand…”
  • “We have the best people in the entire city of Moscow and as a matter of fact in Russia altogether.”
  • “Nick, this is so simple, anyone would understand it. Let me take you through it step by step…”

2. Lying, in particular when the lies are obvious. I typically tell to my prospect offshore vendors upfront that’s I am not a neophyte in outsourcing, yet some of them almost immediately after introduction launch into telling me how their clients saved over 300% in IT costs, about virtually zero turnover ratio, building 100+ member teams in 2 weeks, etc. These claims go beyond lying and fall in category “treating me like an idiot”. There are many areas where I see offshoring vendors commonly bend the truth a bit too far, and that why I always interview prospect employees – all kind of things came to the surface.

3. Playing games. I am not a strong negotiator and do not sell or buy for living. That doesn’t mean that I fall for every trick in the book. More so, if I recognize that a vendor is playing games with me chances are I won’t continue the discussion even without asking them to play a flute first. That is particular common and less offensive when it comes to negotiations, yet still annoying and the chances are will throw a bucket of cold water on my desire to work with the vendor.

4. Bashing competitors. Very common practice that is likely to give a vendor a single benefit – never talking with me again. Here are just a few examples from my recent past:

  • a. From a talk with a Hungarian outsourcing firm: “Nick, are you really comfortable working with Russians? You know that all Russian outsourcing companies are owned by mob, don’t you?” Obviously these guys did not know that I spent first 30 years of my life in Russia…
  • A discussion with a founder of an offshore company in Odessa, Ukraine: “Nick, are you serious about considering China? That’s just silly. I’ve worked with Chinese for years and can tell you they all dumb and lazy…” In response I told the guy that my wife was Chinese; while it is not true, that was so worth it – watching the tap dance that followed.
  • From a discussion with VP of Sales for an outsourcing firm in China talking about another outsourcing firm in China: “I know them very well, and I have to tell you working with them will give you nothing but headaches – huge turnover, very low quality of resources, practically nobody with fluent English…”

5. Showing signs of dysfunctional company. Breakdown in communications, mixed messages, process breakdowns, “right hand doesn’t know what the left hand does”, not responding to my inquiries – these are just some of the common signs of a dysfunctional company. Those signs surfacing during presales / sales process or contract negotiation stage are sure deal killer in my book.

6. Displaying signs of bodyshop. Bodyshops or/and software sweatshops are not the organizations I would partner with for many reasons: low quality of deliverables, incompetent staff, high rate of conflicts – just to name a few. The trick is to recognize it early. Fortunately, signs of bodyshop are often right on the surface. The most common is condescending attitude of sales team towards resources to be involved in delivery. Another one, a bit less obvious, is a very quick turn around on sales materials with no visible impact on sales team (bunch of worker bees in back office slogged through the night to get the drones ready for presentation).

7. Unreasonable pricing. Typically excessive pricing comes decorated with statements such as “we are not the cheapest but we are the best” or “these are just list prices and we can negotiate from here”. That approach turns a large portion of contract negotiations in a slapstick comedy which I do not enjoy. Unreasonably low pricing has a turn offs of a different nature, ranging from “these guys are desperate” to “what’s the catch”.

8. Going over my head or behind my back. Not sure whether that one needs an explanation. Doing something like that is known to be a “corporate culture crime” in any industry / environment. And yet I see it surprisingly often. The funny part is that the email sent to my boss is likely to end up in my inbox with “FYI” or even “Nick, why are thy contacting me?”

9. Applying overly aggressive sales techniques. Having been in the industry for a while I have seen a lot of them ranging from twisting arms and applying pressure or guilt to outright pathetic begging. Once a CEO of midsized Indian outsourcing company literally cried in my office begging my to give his company just one chance, he showed me the pictures of his kids and wept talking about so many of his employees to go hungry – you might think it was a scene from Bollywood tearjerker.

10. Picking a wrong tone for the discussions. That’s a tricky one as everyone has their personal preferences and pet peeves. I think you can’t go wrong by just being consummate professional in all aspects of your communication. For example, I believe that you are better off being cold rather than getting too casual too quick – “Nick, buddy, take a foot of the breaks! When are you goona sign the doc I sent you?” But maybe that’s just me…

Many of the items are not necessary related to integral components or cultural fabric of specific vendor organization. Many of these items are mainly related to sales person who represent the company and you might ask why I would stop working with a vendor just because their sales person is not the sharpest cheese on a platter? Well, there are at least few reasons –

  • Most of the time what you see during sales process is enhanced version of what will appear during the delivery stage.
  • A company that hires and uses sales staff that could be defined by one of terms is probably not worth working with.
  • There are plenty of alternatives to spending time with people who annoy you.

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Is Blog Format a Misfit for PO?

I was chatting with a good friend of mine who happened to be one of my readers as well. Being a good friend he did not sugar coat his thoughts and opinions, as they say “friends stub you in front”. And, as it typically goes, when we were done fighting we only strengthen our positions and views. So, no adjustment or reviews are coming to the 100+ posts I wrote so far. Also as it goes in frank discussions between friends a few interesting topics came up, a few questions that needed mulling over. One of them was quite intriguing for me: “is blog format a misfit for what I am trying to accomplish in pragmatic outsourcing?”

For all intents and purposes PO is a collection of my thoughts, experiences, ideas, etc. directly or loosely related to IT outsourcing. I write the blog as if I am writing a book on IT outsourcing one random chapter at a time. When I look at the table of content it looks like I’ve got a plenty of material for a decent size book already. That approach has a few serious shortcomings though. The main is chronological nature of blog is counterintuitive for technical writing and even more so for reading. Those who elect to subscribe to my blog most likely find the info disorganized, sometimes repetitive, etc. Those who stumble upon my blog looking for offshore advice find info often incomplete. And so on.

Another blog format related challenge comes from expectations of constant updates. That as I move along closing more and more topic becomes more and more complex. Things, unless you consider current news approach are not terribly dynamic. For example, I wrote about India vs. China from IT outsourcing standpoint; that post is soon to be a year old. Some economy trends changed, political and industry events changed some of the elements and tweaked the balance. Of course things changed. Yet how much, is that worth placing an update to that post, revise views and positions, nope, I am afraid the changes no matter how significant did not affect foundations and views presented in that post, chances are it will be a long while before rewriting or updating the post is warranted.

I am not running out of topics yet, there is a lot to cover, and I am not planning to switch the format or type of content. I would appreciate your thoughts on that question though…

And one more thing worth mentioning: Kirill Abgarian, one of my readers and supporters, suggested that I should put my knowledge in a book about Pragmatic Outsourcing. I got quite excited about that idea; while time-wise and skill-wise I could not possibly do it, but considering an offshore ghost writer support and an ebook format that appeared to be very doable. I shopped around what it would take, swaged some purchase dynamics and came to a sad conclusion that I would need to have at least couple thousands subscribers before I could cover the expense of writing and publishing the book. That’s considerably more than I have at the moment, so no ebook for now… but maybe some time in a future…

Basics of Win-win Negotiating

If you heard anything about negotiations you probably heard about win-win negotiations (WWN) as well. As a matter of fact you might have heard the term even if you never dealt with negotiations at all. It’s a very popular buzzword in business, politics, etc. But doesn’t it sound like an oxymoron? Negotiations term in our minds typically translates to two sides with conflicting objectives trying to find a compromise, what can win-win term to do with it?

Well, the first and the most important step in reaching win-win outcomes, is getting away from the cliché above. You need to put yourself in a different state of mind, and that is not that at all complex. If you approach negotiations as “two parties with conflicting objectives trying to find a compromise” that what your negotiation process would be. Negotiations in this case is very much like a sport game or a bitter divorce – there is a fixed amount of assets that could be divided between two parties. In reality most of the businesses negotiations deal with substantially more assets that meets the eye and the assets do not need to be “divided” but distributed / redistributed in some manner, more so in many negotiations new value is created increasing the negotiations asset pool dramatically. Understanding of it allows you to focus on maximizing overall value as well as the value gained by each party, and that leads you to win-win negotiations.

Going forward in this post let’s consider negotiating an initial offshore contract as the main example. Getting to a final contract signature could be a very complex and lengthy process with legal, ops and execs involved, with emotions flying high, many things going wrong, and some seriously bruised egos; that feels in matrimonial terms as a dressed rehearsal for a bitter divorce. Negotiation initial contract could be also a well organized process akin to planning session for long and complex journey.

The first scenario besides being hard on you is also almost a certain recipe for engagement failure. Let’s discuss some of the main techniques and tools that help change typical carpet trading style bargaining into professional win-win process negotiations that are easy on our nerves and establish solid foundation for the engagement success:

Put yourself in WWN state of mind:

  • First thing you need to do is to realize that there is a variable amount of resources to be divided / redistributed and both sides can “win”. Take for example an MSA, I’ve seen some that were just one page long and some over 20 pages long. They serve the same purpose and in large degree touch on the same topics. The breadth and more so depth of them is quite different with longer versions offering many more elements to discuss / negotiate.
  • Starting from early steps of the negotiations your dominant concern should become to maximize joint outcomes. Think about the process of WWN as a process of creating value. In particular search for options of providing additional value for your negotiating partner. For example if you are on a buyer side that might include references, leads, sharing development expertise, helping with building the process maturity, etc.
  • You need to get to a realization that there are many tangible and intangible benefits both parties can offer each other in addition to hard-core contract ingredients. Take for example references or leads a customer the parties can exchange.
  • Understand that the opponent’s interests are not necessarily the way you perceive them, so take the most positive view. Put yourself in your negotiating partner shoes and take the most optimistic outlook at what they may be trying to accomplish. For example, if you are on a buyer side think in terms “if I were the vendor what value I could provide to the buyer? What can I do to exceed their expectations”
  • Focus on interests, not positions, including your own. That is very important point, it is all too often we forget the goals we are trying to accomplish and get our horns locked in fighting on positions, pursuing fleeting often irrelevant objectives. Many times I’ve seen people forgetting the topic of negotiation and only striving to look good, win, prove the point, etc. Well I’ve done it myself…

You can start establishing the foundations of the WWN right after and only after you put yourself in WWN state of mind. One of the most important steps in establishing the foundations is making sure that WWN is indeed a possibility:

  • Always initially ask for more than you expect. That serves to multiple purposes, one of the most important being establishing negotiation space, which in turn helps your opponent to avoid “losing face”.
  • Look for points to negotiate and by all means avoid single-threaded negotiations. When you get to a single-threaded negotiation, or negotiating upon a single point (most common would be “the rate”) the chances of “building additional value” disappear as negotiation turns to dividing a limited amount of resources between two parties. Keep as many points open as possible till you are ready to get to the closure.
  • Get you opponent to act in WWN manner as well. Make sure that your negotiating partner understands that your position is “win-win or no deal”. Get your opponent to take same position as well. That could be not trivial and require substantial effort if your opponent doesn’t have experience in WWN or doesn’t believe in WWN.

The process of WWN is not overly complex; it’s just different from what many people consider “the right thing to do” when it comes to negotiations. In “typical” negotiations one person’s interests oppose the other’s. The dominant concern in this type of bargaining is usually maximizing one’s own interests. Dominant strategies in this mode include manipulation, forcing, and withholding information. In WWN dominant concern is to maximize joint outcomes and dominant strategies include cooperation, sharing information, and mutual problem solving.

After the parties established WWN mindset and environment the process moves towards building a partnership dealing with elements that parties have opposite interest in becomes non-confrontational collaboration rather than face to face combat so common for haggling. When you encounter a topic of that divides / pulls parties apart consider the following techniques:

  • Seek out (brain storm) mutual gain opportunities through out your negotiation process. Every turn in the negotiation offers additional opportunity for discovery and broadening the negotiation landscape. Generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do / how to proceed.
  • Seek objective or legitimate standard to base an outcome on, to evaluate the solution. For example Net 30 is the most common (standard) payment term in SMB environment for outsourcing contracts. Working with large organization such as government or pharma you likely have to consider Net 60, when dealing with contractors you may want to consider Net 15 or due upon receipt.
  • Build on commonalities rather than address the differences, consider “we are in this together” as the main metaphor. Sometimes to bring you and your opponent (negotiating partner) on the same side it helps to find a “mutual enemy”. For example when building a initial outsourcing contract instead of fighting around common problems such as “what if you will not deliver on time and my resources are spinning wheels waiting for you…” consider “loss of productivity” as a “mutual enemy”. That set of mind promotes by far more productive discussion and typically results in better contractual framework.

OK, the title of this post is “Basics of Win-win Negotiating”, “basics” not “insights” or “advanced techniques” and I think I am way deep in the weeds now. So, I guess I should stop now… And thank you so much if you still reading. I am afraid I lost most of my readers by now, including myself…

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