Not Giving Up Is Overrated and Why You Should Fire Your Provider Now

I do not know how many times I’ve heard some form of a “never give up” cliché.  Google returns 185M results for “reasons to never give up”, every motivational speaker has a supporting story in their arsenal, and chances are you heard it at least 10,000 times as well.

Yes, we all have seen a plenty of examples where tenacity and perseverance paid off.  We know that in some cases a call to never give up may help us to get up and go on after we get knocked down.  And yet, in far too many cases “don’t ever give up” is nothing much but a banal saw or even worse – a dubious guidance that leads us in a wrong direction.  “Never give up” mantra can become the shackles fettering us to failures, doomed concepts, or wrong partnerships.  It may keep us stuck, limit creativity, and reinforce mistakes.

Determining a course of actions based on slogans, role model’s mottos, or old proverbs is not going to get us far.  We need to make a decisive action when the need is indicated, and this action could be to throw in the towel.  That in particular applies to terminating a less than successful offshore partnership.

I don’t suggest that we should stop trying at a first sign of difficulty or fire our providers as soon as we some problem brewing.  Nobody is perfect, it’s only fair to give your provider a second chance, and the cost of switching providers could be significant.   What I am 100% clear on is that in many cases sticking to outdated decisions, keeping existing partnership, or trying to fix something hopelessly broken is not the best strategy.

More so, if you decide under the circumstances that the best step forward is to fire your freelancer, offshore vendor, or service provider you want to “give up” on them as soon as possible.  In 99 cases out 100 the only regret you will have later is not doing it earlier.

Most of offshore projects start on the right foot and go through some honeymoon stage, most of them get rocky at some point, and if not treated correctly right at this point they may become toxic for both sides.  The key is in detecting deterioration early and making decisions based on facts and logic instead of emotions or mental shortcuts.

In case you discover a problem with your offshore partner a simple three step process will bring things to closure: 1) figure out what’s wrong and setup/review SMART objectives; 2) take aggressive corrective actions; 3) review the results, if trend has not changed start looking for a new provider.  This process doesn’t fall into “easier said than done” category, it’s actually quite straight forward and could be managed in a traditional project management style.

The key here is early problem detection and the key to making it easier is Focus.  It’s akin to watching kids for signs of illness – high fever or runny nose.   To keeping a finger on the pulse of engagement watch out for these signs:

5 Signs of Offshore Relationship Going South

  1. Escalating frustration. Notable escalation of concerns and general frustration with your provider is to offshore relationship what a high fever is to a common cold.
  2. It’s no longer fun. I assume your love your job and enjoy it. If working with your offshore team has lost its zest it could be a sign of deep rooted issues.
  3. Turnover is out of bounds. If you see a considerable spike in offshore team turnover, even due to “legitimate” reasons (relocation, illness, etc.) you owe to yourself in-depth analysis of the situation.
  4. Drop in quality. Decrease in quality of deliverables with no apparent “technical” reasons is often a result of apathy or/and frustration of the offshore team.
  5. Increase in offshore-to-onshore tension, finger pointing, frequent interpersonal or technology conflicts. These are usually late stage symptoms of deteriorating relationship.

This list is by no means complete and I would love to hear you and see more ideas, please email me or share your thoughts b y commenting on this post.

Sometimes instead of subtle signs you may see a clear indication of problem, wring in the wall in large burning letters.

Offshore Relationship Stop and Danger Signals

  1. Deception and lies. Ok, embellished resumes or marketing collateral is a new standard of honesty nowadays. But in my view deception, lies, trickery employed by offshore provider puts them on notice immediately.  It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been together, if my providers disrespects me to a degree that allows for scams, I do not want to continue, it’s only down from there.
  2. Work ethics. Work ethics is typically reflection of organizational culture, if poor work ethics are common for considerable portion of your team, I would not look for staff replacement and consider changing the provider altogether.
  3. Communication Chasm. Communication gaps are common and inherited elements of outsourcing. That doesn’t mean that you should live with huge gaps or lasting communication breakdowns. If gaps are too large to bridge with common tools and processes, seek alternative providers, there are many and better options to consider.
  4. Cultural clash. Sometime cultural differences are so pronounced that they create surmountable obstacles for team collaboration. Do not fight an uphill battle, chances of winning here are slim to none.
  5. Expectations Mismatch. Gross mismatch of expectations or using connubial terms, irreconcilable differences, is sure recipe for disaster with little chance of a solution. Once again, there are plenty of offshore providers that can deliver what you need and meet and even exceed your expectations, you are not married to your vendor, so move on.

The items above are my own top five, and I would love to hear you and see more ideas, please email me or comment on this post.  But before I am done for today let me share with you

A Little Known Trick for Avoiding Getting Stuck In an Offshore Rut

An underutilized approach to avoiding great multitude of problems that spur from a failure to give up on a wrong partner is to use third party audits. Unbiased opinion that measures the health of the relationship with your partner can provide you with sufficient data to make keep them or lose them decision.

The most encouraging about this approach is its relative simplicity and low cost. On several occasions I was able to put together a relationship score card for my clients in matter of days.  Even for a relatively large engagement (over 500 personnel on T&M basis) a comprehensive survey took only two weeks to execute.

This is a very interesting topic and I’ll put a new post to cover it in more details.  Do let me know if there is anything specific you’d like me to cover.

Ok, we’ve covered a lot of ground here.  From symptoms of a deteriorating relationship to using third party audits.   Hope you find it helpful.  Please email me or comment on the post, your feedback will help me improve the quality of material you can find on this site.  Thanks!

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