Charting a Map to Disposable Outsourcing

Have you heard about PMBOK? In case you did not – the acronym stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge. PMBOK is a very comprehensive document that covers PM processes, procedures, methodologies and techniques promoted by Project Management Institute (PMI), a very well respected organization…

A few months ago I asked two PMs on my team to develop a road map of ensuring that offshoring relationships we have in place are indeed 100% disposable. A very aggressive goal considering a small size of our on-shore organization in particular juxtaposed to the size of our offshore operations. Almost instantly the project was nicknamed OCBOK – offshore contingency body of knowledge. Of course building a real OCBOK would take much more than two part time project managers (even exceptionally good ones) and a couple of offshore teams. So we can only start outlining its structure and put some preliminary content in a few chapters. It would be great to get it to the PMBOK level at least some approximation. To that I need all help I can find – if you have any resources / ideas / suggestions that you think could be applicable please send them my way. Feel free to comment on this post or email me at – krym2000-po@yahoo.com

In meanwhile here are a few interesting observations from writing the first chapter of OCBOK which would be called “You are more dependent than you think” –

  • The dependency comes mainly from the same reasons you outsourced in the first place. For example, if you brought offshore because you had difficult time to find resources chances are that has not changed and likely became even worse – you have not paid attention to sourcing and hiring for a long time, and unless market changed dramatically in your favor you will have even more tough time finding people. Similar dynamics apply to pretty much any reason you could have had.
  • From my early engineering days I remember one rule quite well – nothing is as permanent as temporary construction. That applies to offshore as well in so many cases when outsourcing is introduced as a temporary solution. I guess information highway has a plenty of potholes that require constructions crews.
  • You develop new dependencies in multiple aspects of the organization; some of them emotional, intentionally built by the vendor. Do you know of “puppy close”? That’s a quite common sales technique. Imagine a family visiting pet store. Kids begging for a cute puppy that cost a bundle and was never in family plans. Dad stays firm – no pets, mom generally supports him and kids continue begging… A sales guy suggest to parents – why don’t you guys just take the puppy home for a weekend, kids will be happy today and grow lukewarm to the puppy by Monday, and you will bring it back for a full refund. And that’s so true – kids do jump and hug and kiss and scream with happiness, and a day later are at best lukewarm to the puppy… Parents on the other hand get used to that little ball of fur and it stays home for good…
  • One of the strongest dependencies comes from embedding the vendor in your SDLC. Offshore company becomes one of the links of the chain and breaking that link could be detrimental to the entire process. Chain metaphor is a good visual illustration – imagine a chain under tremendous load and one link of that chain fails, or about to fail. You can just take it out…
  • And the problem is even worse if your offshore vendor is not a link in a chain but a thread weaved into a rope (btw, when a rope is put to work it becomes a “line” that why there is no ropes on a yacht… with exception of a bolt rope I guess). In that case you have a very difficult time taking the thread out – almost impossible – and yet a failure of a single thread can become detrimental under extreme load…

Well, I am sure you’ve got the point… I am planning on putting together some kind of dependency checklist you can use in assessment of your situation and in early steps of your journey to disposable outsourcing.

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