e-Skills: Professional Outsourcing
As the IT industry’s centre of gravity moves from the end user IT department to the service provider, we need to give more attention to the professionalism of the outsourcer. This is important from the providers’ perspective if they are to build the trust needed to take charge of core elements of their clients’ business.
It is also important for those that find themselves working on the supply side. Working for a service company can feel directionless. You are simply a resource that needs to shape shift in order to keep off the bench. The Brownian motion chaos associated with a ‘career’ in outsourcing can look quite unattractive.
Those that work on the supply side need to feel more in control of their destiny. I believe that creating a professional structure around this growing market is critical. Academe and industry need to work together to create competency frameworks and qualifications that support and enhance a career in outsourcing.
Beyond the technical competence of working in an end user organisation, ‘outsourcerers’ at every level need to have finely-honed commercial skills. They also need to have strong interpersonal skills, particularly in respect of service management; conflict and expectation management come to mind.
Cultural, political and social sensitivity is similarly critical when one’s career involves engaging with many organisations over time. This is not such an issue for traditional lifer employees who spend significant fractions of their career in the one organisation and thus over time eventually learn the house norms.
Such qualifications must not be company specific. They need to be international. And they need to be high profile and relevant. That way the buyers can base their purchasing decisions around something concrete.