Walking the Walk | Article

Great Wall of ChinaService Net, LLC is an outsourcing vendor, using collaborative software to provide client server solutions for customers. Now the company is walking the philosophy they’ve been talking by also becoming an outsourcing customer.

Service Net, jointly owned by Andersen Consulting and GTEI, is in the final negotiation stages with a major global network provider to network their telecommunications function. The move was a logical one, according to Ed Thompson, vice president of marketing.

“We’re talking to our customers about the advantages of outsourcing,” he said.† “If you apply that same philosophy to areas outside our core competency, it made sense to go to the folks who could do it more efficiently and more effectively, therefore saving money for us — and ultimately our end customers.”

The global network is essential to Service Net’s outsourcing work, providing the foundation for the services provided to their customers.

The Pyramid Perspective

“If you look at it from a pyramid perspective, the real foundation is the global network,” said Thompson. “On top of that is the IT expertise. On top of that is applications expertise, and on top of that is what we call business operations expertise. We do a very good job of providing levels two through four.”

The key then became establishing a more cost effective foundation. “We ask our customers to view us as a utility,” said Thompson. “We look at the network provider as a utility where we have service level agreements that are set up, and we expect them to meet those service level requirements on a global basis. Then we won’t have to worry about the day-to-day, minute-to-minute management.”

Achieving that service on a ‘global basis’ is fundamental to Service Net’s success. The company now operates in Southeast Asia and Australia, the U.S. and North America and Europe, with plans to support Latin America. The outsourcer had to be able to meet those current requirements and be prepared to support future expansion.

“Ultimately it will be a global requirement, which eliminated some network providers immediately,” said Thompson.

Making a Good Match

He noted that prospective customers also should ask themselves if they’re ready to live with the potential outsourcing partner for an extended period of time and if the outsourcer is a good cultural match.

“If you have a business philosophy that says customer service is paramount, you want to ensure that your potential partner has a similar philosophy,” Thompson said. “If you have a collaborative culture, you want to make sure they can workin a collaborative manner.

“Our core competency is global operational excellence,” he added. “We want to be sure our partner shares that same philosophy and has that capability.” And ‘last but not least’ on Thompson’s list was the respect factor. “If you have high respect for individuals within your organization, you want the same from your partner,” he said, “because you will end up working side by side.”

From his company’s new perspective as an outsourcing customer, Thompson gave his view of the trend toward international outsourcing.

An Open World

“There are no boundaries to doing business any longer,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what size company you are, whether you’re a hundred million dollar company or a multi-billion dollar company, with the networking capabilities and computer technology today, you can reach anywhere you want to reach.”

Service Net’s new outsourcing agreement will enable the company to tap into that potential.

“It allows our company to have a solid foundation from a global network perspective,” said Thompson, “so that we can match the availability in the network with our core competency of global operational excellence and competently deliver to our end customers quality and service levels on a guaranteed basis.”

Lessons from the Outsourcing Primer

  • An effective global network serves as the foundation for other services.
  • Outsourcers should be viewed as utilities.
  • A well-defined plan of requirements can facilitate the vendor selection process.
  • Capabilities for the future, as well as the present, should be evaluated.
  • Customers and outsourcers should share common business philosphies and corporate cultures.

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