The company I work for is, to say the least, in dire straits. I wasn’t even aware of how bad things are until I started to get interested in outsourcing.
Outsourcing is the solution IT management has come up with to deal with the problems the IT department is facing as part of the issues that is troubling the whole of the company(I refer from calling issues challenges, which is the phrase management prefers to use).
One of the biggest cause of all the problems is the massive loan that the company took out to finance a large takeover of another company some years ago. In fact the company they acquired was so large that it seems that it bit off more than it can chew, especially because that company had ran up a large debt. A fact that was well known, but did not deter the company from acquiring it anyway. Synergy would make sure that the whole would become better than the sum of the parts. Synergy is like magic if you will. And like magic it operates outside of the realms of logic. Synergy happens because it does.
It might probably have worked out anyway because the company made so much money that on the whole it still made a profit even though the newly acquired company had not made a profit for years.
But then the economy took a nosedive.
The company was now facing decreasing profits and it did what almost any company does: it started to cut costs. And it did that in the obvious way of not investing in those areas that did not see as their core business. And IT was considered to be such a part..
And IT ran up what is called an IT debt: not investing in new systems to replace the older ones. Any investment was pushed towards the future unless an investment could no longer be delayed. And so the IT infrastructure slowly started to degenerate.
So how to solve the issue of IT Debt?
The answer was: outsourcing of course. Outsourcing would solve the issue of having to deal with cyclic investments and having to deal with expensive employees. You just have another company take care of the IT stuff and specifically of the expensive IT people and the cost would become fixed and predictable.
It will not surprise that when this became known to the employees the motivation of these employees plummeted. For them outsourcing meant a stab in the back. These employees had been keeping things running despite the lack of investments. They felt betrayed.
And, as irony will have it, at this very moment in time the company held an employee satisfaction study. And from the study it was concluded that the motivation of the IT department was at an all time low. And for some curious unexplained reason this took management by surprise.
And now the Human Resource department put in an appearance. For is it not the HR department that concerns itself with the well-being of the human resources of the company: the employees?
HR is staffed with two kinds of people. Those who can best be described at the personnel department and who take care of the many administrative tasks that are required when you have employees.
And then there are the HR people.
HR people see themselves as management advisers and employees as ‘resources’. By placing employees on the same level as the cars, computers and machines, they distance themselves from said employees and feel themselves thus able to formulate advise for management . It is why they have employees fill out surveys and avoid speaking to them at all.
Their attitude is best illustrated by a small anecdote:
Once the HR department expressed an interest in the functioning one of the datacenters that IT department managed. So an appointment was made and a HR director appeared with two assistants. They were then shown around the datacenter. During their one hour visit they managed to avoid talking to anyone but an operator and the manager who was showing them around, despite the fact that the building they visited had around hundred and forty employees. HR is not interested in talking to their resources.. because they might talk back and warp into people. Perish the thought!
What did the HR department do about the low motivation?
They organized a workshop to discuss the results of the survey.
It was one of the few things HR has done for years, besides having people fill out forms for their job evaluation reviews.
You can imagine that HR department has zero credit with the employees.