“Outsource it!” is now in beta

A couple days ago my first full size book went into beta and is now available at the publisher website – http://pragprog.com/book/nkout/outsource-it. I feel very happy and relieved that the book is finally out, writing it was far more challenging than I’ve ever anticipated. At the same time I feel happy and proud, proud to be one of the authors of the pragmatic bookshelf, the group of technology writers that earned respect across very broad and demanding technical audience.

It will take a little while before the book hits the shelves of Amazon and other bookstores, but you don’t have to wait and get your e-copy of it today. While the book is in beta your comments and suggestions would be taken quite seriously and could result in changes and additions to the content, hopefully making the book even better. I am not sure how long the beta would take but hopefully much less than it took me to get here –

Roughly two and a half years ago I came up what seemed a great idea at the time – compile my blog material into an easy to read eBook. In a couple months I produced the first volume that was dedicated to making decisions on whether and how to outsource. In a short order I received substantial feedback that made it apparent that just recompiling the blog and doing surface level clean up won’t add too much value, and probably was not worth the effort. Continue reading

Five levels of customer satisfaction

A few days ago Sathya, an onsite offshore coordinator aka account manager working with my company, stopped by to discuss what he and his company could do to earn my trust and to make me happy. I wish more people in my life would ask the same questions, in particular women. And I tell you, in many cases the answers would be exceptionally simple. Well, not when it comes to making me happy as a CTO managing multimillion dollar technology budget. In this case earning my trust and keeping me happy is a very tall order. I am sure that many of you are dealing with the same question (either asking or answering it), so I think there is a value in sharing what I told Sathya…

There are at least 5 levels / horizons of customer satisfaction that the vendor has to achieve. There is a natural order to these horizons and there is no reason even to approach fifth level till you are done with the first one. And of course reaching just one horizon doesn’t give you much. You need to maintain all five in perfect state to achieve that illusive customer sat…

The first horizon is the company / corporation itself. The company engaged you as the vendor in order to achieve certain objectives. The company has specific metrics it wants you to comply with – financial, quality, productivity, etc. Before your go any further you need to meet the expectations established by these metrics. In case the company did not establish the metrics you should do it yourself and bring them to the company. Show us, the corporation, that you are contributing to the overall success of the company, helping us with the bottom line, delivering to the benchmarks of quality that are same or better than internal personnel, meeting deadlines and staying under budget. Even though that appears a difficult horizon to reach, it is actually the simplest one. Catering to the organization is a high level task, it allows you to be generally correct, meet expectations in most cases, etc. you do not have to be always perfect. Some failures and individual mishaps do not appear on executive radars and could be averaged out by successful projects and other money saving initiates. Continue reading

Offshore Account Manager

A few days ago an interesting question came over email –

Hi Nick,

Thank you for your valuable inputs and keep them coming as usual at your blog..I have been reading your blogs for sometime now and I enjoy reading them as the info provided are very helpful for me.I have recently taken a new role into account management. My task is to define the scope of account management.
Though I have some specific areas in mind; acct governance, acct communications, acct performance & reporting.. do you have any advise on what should be also included? Might you know if there are any interesting online account management portals/association i can get into?

Your advise will greatly help.

Thanks,
AH
Singapore

Account Manager is somewhat ambiguous position with often very unclear job description. Well, when it comes to job descriptions many companies stay at very high level not providing employees sufficient understanding of the expectations and expecting employees to fill in the blanks. That’s in particular common in management positions (take a look at my post Manager, the Job Description).

As a matter of fact Account Manager (AM) is an exceptionally important role, especially in the Offshore Outsourcing world. There are several definitions / understandings of the role, ranging from “a sales person dedicated to existing accounts” to “a customer advocate”. I think it’s not one or another, it’s the entire spectrum and in that light AM responsibilities include many dimensions, the list below includes the most important three.

Continue reading