How do people feel when they hear they might get outsourced?
They feel betrayed.
Should people feel betrayed?
Of course they should.
It doesn’t even matter if it outsourcing is actually going to happen, just the idea that their management is considering outsourcing as an option will feel like a stab in the back to their employees. This feeling will spread like wildfire and soon motivation will plummet.
Often the outsourcing solution is mentioned after a period in which the IT debt of the company has become a serious issue. IT debt is the name for failing to invest in IT over a prolong period. The IT environment is used up and starts failing.The continuity of the company is at stake.
The internal IT staff is put under increasing pressure to keep things running, sometimes working late into the night to repair the damage that is caused by failing systems or software that has outlived its lifespan and should have been replaced.
To hear that they then will be replaced, after all that effort, makes the betrayal even doubly hurtful.
But managers can make things even worse.
IT management doesn’t see it like their employees see it. To them outsourcing is the answer to the IT debt and the way to deal with reluctance of business to invest in their IT infrastructure. Business that does not feel that IT can be an enabler or an asset, but is just overhead. It is necessary, but we do not want to pay for it more than we absolutely have to because it is not our core business.
And thus outsourcing becomes the light at the end of the tunnel. It is the way out of the dark forest. It is the wizard of Oz.
And outsourcing promises a lot. It promises to reduce costs, to enable flexibility, to allow for innovation, to reduce people, to make things agile, to do things smart and allow management to control IT better.
At the expense of the employees of course.
But it’s these people they want to get rid off anyway.. for these people they do not understand or connect with.
Even triple sad is when that same management plead with those same people they are planning to outsource to put in to keep the flailing IT environment operational until the outsourcing contracts have been signed and the outsourcing providers can step in.
It is like telling your spouse to put in extra effort in running the family smoothly while aiming for a divorce and screwing behind her or his back at the same time.
Management can even go one step further Bby refusing to communicate properly.
But you know.. managers don’t see it that way.
How do they see it?
That is for another post….
So what do you think?
Leave a comment if you disagree or agree.
That is what comments are there for.
Why do managers outsource their workforce?
Do you really want to know?
It’s because they are afraid..
If you read the literature and studies you get another answer: you get a given one and one that is being denied. The answer that is being denied is: to reduce cost.
Reducing costs is not the aim. It is to achieve flexibility.That is the given answer.
What is flexibility?
It is the ability to reduce or increase the workforce when there is a need. And it is needed to deal with costs and ultimately: to reduce costs.. It is the public secret.
In the end the given answer lead to the denied one. It is all about the money.
But that is just one part of the tale.
Here is the other.
Companies are run by managers. Managers operate in uncertain situations. They have to make decisions that can have serious repercussions for them and others. The bigger the company and the higher the manager, the bigger the stakes.The bigger the stakes.. the harder the fall.
Managers have to deal with uncertainty, just like you and me.. And like you and me they do not like uncertainty. Like you and me they want to live in the comfort zone where we feel safe.
To deal with this uncertainty and live in the comfort zone they want to gain control of the world around them and to gain control they parametrize. The world of the manager is a world of numbers and figures called Key Performance Indicators(KPI) and they are presented in spreadsheets.
This fear goes double for the IT manager.
The world of information technology is in a constant flux. New things pop up, old things are left behind. Companies that were on top, crash to their doom, new companies pop into existence.And sometimes a company rises up from the depth because a driven capable man takes the helm and surrounds himself with capable people.. Apple is an example.
If you think your IT workforce has a hard time keeping up.. this goes double for the IT managers. Most have no clue what their workforce are on about or what IT stuff means. Big data, tiered storage strata, cloud provisioning, Saas, Paas It is to them mostly gibberish. What does it means when addressing costs? How can we do the same for less money? It is the internal secret knowledge of a group of magicians.
That is not bad.. it’s the way things work. Managers rely on key people to provide them with knowledge: their staff or those managers that report to them. And it is for the next manager in line to take this knowledge and do something with it. And often this is just presenting it to the next manager in line.
As a higher manager confided: we(high management) just present the cake, (even) higher management cuts it.
The higher the manager is up the ladder, the more global his decisions are, the less he or she knows about the details. But details matter in the IT world. If you do not know what IT does or can do, you have a hard time to make the right decisions. You need to keep up with the technology to do that..
But managers do not have the time nor do they want to know about the details.
So how to deal with this?
Have outsiders take care of the things you do not understand.
And now the manager is back in his comfort zone: contracts, service levels, performance indicators and spreadsheets. That is the world he understands. The world he does not fear: hard figures and legalities.
And there is another reason. Like any human they have a hard time dealing with other humans. The others.
The manager lives in his world and the higher up he is, the less he knows about his people.
Few managers that have like one or two managers between them and the workforce talk to their people on a regular basis. Especially in large companies. Managers live usually separated from the normal workforce..like the emperor of Japan was shielded from his own people. A golden cage.
It is the hierarchy that separates management from the workforce. Not intentionally or consciously.
If you want to see a nice example of how this works.. go and watch the movie the Sun by Alexander Sokurov(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sun_%28film%29).
Once I worked for a company in which a group of employers presented their own vision on a certain key decision. The managers were generally surprised that their employers were actually capable in doing that. It was chilling to notice how they were so caught up in their own world that they couldn’t conceive the idea that people who were not managers could actually present a coherent idea.
It’s not that these people think they are superior.. or even thing the workforce are stupid..It’s because they are socialized in that way of thinking.
So what do you think?
Is this nonsense.. do you think it’s valid?
Perhaps you like to comment or set me straight.
Well that is where comments are for.
What makes you an expert?
Is it because you know something very well?
Is it because you know more than someone else does about a given subject?
Is someone an expert because she writes a book on a subject? Just one book? Or many books?
I wondered about it.
Am I an expert because I have read a few articles on a subject and have some experiences?
I think not.
So who would be mad enough to start a blog about a subject she knows next to nothing about?
I would, I guess.
In the series of blogposts starting with CC I will write down my experiences and observations about (out)sourcing in the world of information technology.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not pretend to be an expert in outsourcing. But since a lot of people feel that way and hesitate to write about this subject, I want to write about it anyway, and from the standpoint of someone who is in the middle of a process of outsourcing and is in the middle of a discussion about it.
I think there is a need because when I was confronted by outsourcing I had a hard time to find sources with a balanced view. You will find that the searches are filled with companies selling outsourcing as a product. They will tell you what a blessing it is. They have to, just like car companies tell you their cars are the hottest thing in town. And if it is not a business promoting outsourcing then it’s experts, consultants and anyone else who make a living from outsourcing.
Dissenting voices can be found. They are pushed down to the bottom of the searches. The internet has it’s own system of unintentional opinion suppression: one buys their way to the top of the searches. Lacking money your descent is imminent.
Outsourcing is part of what is called sourcing. Sourcing deals with one subject: how to provide for an (adequate) workforce. Often this gets turned into: how to reduce the cost of the workforce.
Reducing the cost of the workforce is pretty easy: fire the lot of them.
But you can spot the problem: without a workforce there is no work being done. Without work nothing gets made and when you make nothing you can only sell nothing and nothing cannot be sold for a profit. Well, not normally.
Sourcing has always been a challenge, but with the internet new ways of sourcing develop. The internet makes it possible to have work done in other countries using a workforce that is far cheaper. This is basically outsourcing: using an cheaper workforce in another country to get the same work done.
In later posts I will expand on this.