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Column Corner: Peek Under the HoodCWS 30 August 2.16

CWS 30


By Jim Lanzalotto

Personally, I like those hackneyed IQ tests you see online. Depending on the kind of test and the time of day, my IQ is either 68 or 147.

For a few moments, let's suspend reality and change the subject of that kind of general intelligence exam. Let's look at how well you know your managed services or RPO provider.

This kind of evaluation is critical when you're in the process of picking an outsourced provider; it's just as significant when you're evaluating your existing partner. The key to this IQ test is whether you truly know your provider and the value it can potentially convey to your organization. (By the way, this kind of evaluation needs to be done more often than at typical milestone dates in your outsourcing agreement. Think of this more like a performance evaluation: annually is the minimum time interval for a review. Quarterly, mid-year and full-year reviews work even better.) And beyond the simple pursuit of what some of your colleagues may consider a trivial matter, knowing your outsourcing provider and their competition makes you a better customer as well as a better purchaser of outsourcing services.

To tally the results, we'll use the same point system as Cosmopolitan -- except the content will be just slightly less titillating.

Question 1:
Do you know what makes your outsourcing provider's value proposition unique from its competition?

  1. Yes (3 points)
  2. No (2 point)
  3. Maybe (1 point)

Question 2:
Do you know what companies -- other than your current provider -- are the leaders in outsourcing for your industry?

  1. Yes (2 points)
  2. No (1 point)

Question 3:
Do you understand how your provider has changed your business?

  1. Yes (3 points)
  2. No (2 point)
  3. Maybe (1 point)

Question 4:
Can you articulate the benefits you receive from your outsourcing provider?

  1. Yes (3 points)
  2. No (2 points)
  3. Don't know (1 point)

Question 5:
Has your outsourcing provider contributed more than cost savings to your program?

  1. Yes (3 points)
  2. No (2 points)
  3. Don't know (1 point)

Question 6:
Is your outsourcing provider helping your company ...

  1. Unload noncore costs (1 point)
  2. Drive strategic value (2 points)

Question 7:
Do you or someone on your team regularly read your outsourcing provider's white papers or other thought leadership documents or presentations?

  1. Often (3 points)
  2. Sometimes (2 points)
  3. Never (1 point)

Question 8:
Do you or someone on your team follow your outsourcing provider via social media?

  1. Often (3 points)
  2. Sometimes (2 points)
  3. Never (1 point)

Evaluation:
18-22 points Dream Customer. Your outsourcing partner must love you. You're paying attention, you can articulate their value proposition and you're ahead of the curve. Keep up the good work; there's a good chance your market knowledge will benefit you significantly in the future, whether you stay with your current provider or make a change.

12-17 points You're Smarter Than a 5th Grader. You're a good customer, but you probably want to brush up on your knowledge of your provider as well as its competitors. When you do, you'll not only know more about your current provider, but you'll also be better armed when it comes to differentiating between suppliers.

8-11 points Don't Show Your Boss. I'm not going to say you're not doing your job. You're just not as educated as you should be. As the producers of Animal House (the source of most of my wisdom) so clearly articulated, "Knowledge is Good". So take advantage of what the market has to bear and educate yourself in the value provided by your current provider as well as its main competition.

Jim Lanzalotto runs Scanlon.Louis, a strategy and marketing outsourcing firm that helps companies grow. He can be reached at jim@scanlonlouis.com or 610.212.5411.You can also follow him at twitter.com/jimlanzalotto.

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