Transition Part 6 – Communications

Transition Part 6 – Communications

Communications

Proper communications management is absolutely essential for success in Transition, as well as during the other phases of the outsourcing engagement, including termination of the agreement.  The greater the change, the greater the need for clear communication about the reasons and rationale behind it, the benefits expected, the plans for its implementation and its anticipated effects. The communications process must be carefully planned and executed, and then re-evaluated at predefined periods of the outsourcing lifecycle. The following sections will discuss the principles and activities by which communications can be effectively managed. 

Planning 

In general, the essence of good communications can be organized according to the same questions used by good journalists around the world: “Who, What, When, and How?” These can, and should be, substantively answered as part of the planning for communications management. 

  1. Who?: The very first step in planning effective communications is identifying the audiences. Of course, there will be many different audiences, each with differing requirements in terms of what requirements will help them achieve their business objectives.  Organize all the stakeholders from both the client and the service provider organizations, preferably organized according to the general types of information they require. For example, the client management team needs very different information than the service provider technical management team. 
  2. What?: This is a time for precision, and it can require some time and effort.  Having identified the various stakeholder groups and individuals, determine the information which will enhance the ability of each group to perform its primary function. It is equally important to eliminate unnecessary information as it is to identify the specific required data. In many instances, for example, the question “Is reporting provided?”, when directed to the Technical team management (outsourcing service provider) and the Business team management (outsourcing client), elicits very different responses.  From the Technical team management: “We give them every single thing we know; if that’s not enough, we don’t know what else we could do.” From the Business management team management: “ They provide us with voluminous reports, most of which we didn’t ask for, don’t understand, and don’t understand.” The information that technical teams require focuses on such things as transactions processed, mips, and so on. Business managers, on the other hand are interested in such areas as the quality of customer-facing service, general trends, and requirements to maintain customer service satisfaction. If this question is not adequately addressed, the result is effort spent on a regular basis producing communications which provide no benefit to anybody, and that provides only negative results for everybody. 
  1. When?: It appears that often the frequency of communications is given little consideration, and has evolved for no other reason than “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” As part of planning, consider the frequency which will most enhance the recipient’s ability to perform a required function. Less often than required will hamper the audience’s ability to perform its business function; too often typically results in the communications being treated somewhat like “spam” e-mail. A published schedule is always a good idea, and it can be tweaked to enhance effectiveness. 
  2. How?: There are multiple vehicles for communications, each with a specific approach, and each more effective in specific instances. As part of planning, determine precisely which instrument will be most effective for a stakeholder audience identified above. The most common communications vehicles include: 
  • Meetings or workshops, 
  • Hard copy reports, 
  • Electronic reports,
  • Documentation, for updates to policy, process or procedure,
  • Automated notifications for such things as escalation or change of status.

From a general perspective, during planning, the effectiveness and efficiency of the communications can be enhanced by using templates for execution and for designing communications best suited to your particular situation. There are many available, and utilising what has previously been done can save time and effort, and will often contain information which may have been missed by both the client and the service provider.

Initiation 

Once the planning is complete, ensure that every appropriate member of the various target audiences are fully informed of the communications which pertain to them, including frequency, format, and process for suggesting updates. 

Begin executing the communications process as agreed by all parties as part of planning    

Execution 

Once the Communications plan is initiated, monitor carefully, especially during the early days, to evaluate its effectiveness. 

As a result of the evaluations, update the plan to better suit the needs of the target audiences. 

Actively solicit input from all stakeholders. This increases and maintains buy-in as time goes on 

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