Yesterday we looked at the old “Build vs. Buy” question, “When does it make sense to have an internal department develop a product/service, and when does it make sense to use an outside product/service?” We left off saying that a modified Request for Proposal (RFP) process could measure internal competencies, which would guide you in making the build/buy decision. We began to ask, “What happens if you work with (or if you are) a reluctant department that does not want to be ‘rated’ by someone else?” So our subject today is, “Why does it make sense to be TRANSPARENT?”
More and more, groups are being told that they must report on their services or improve their services or develop a continuous improvement program. All of these programs require transparency: making the working of your organization measurable and reportable. If you are already on this path, you know that there are days when it doesn’t feel like a step forward. But as you continue to move along this path, you can see that transparent organizations are easier to manage, because it’s easier to set real goals. Soon, “make things better”, becomes “reduce late deliveries by 5%”. And you really know what you’re good at and where you need to improve. It can be scary to have your services rated, and worse yet, to allow the RFP process to inject potential competitors into your environment. But there are other things that are even scarier… like having projects that fail, dealing with angry clients, and having clients who aren’t actively mad at you but aren’t supporters… these are all much worse!
When I talk to colleagues, and we commiserate about the projects from hell we’re stuck with, these are often ones we didn’t want or were just barely able to do. We all fall into this trap at one time or another. You know you shouldn’t take on this project, but it has to be done and you don’t see any alternatives. You may even see using outside services as an indication of weakness. So, against your better judgment you take on projects that are going to fail, or at best results in poor customer satisfaction. If service groups work with Procurement (they usually run RFPs) you can quickly develop a measure of your competencies. See if you think this reflects your true capabilities. In areas where you have almost no capability, but have requests to provide services, identify outside providers, at least for now. Where you have some capabilities, but have significant shortfalls, develop a short term strategy for using outside providers, until you can strengthen these areas.
You can reduce the number of poorly performing projects, may be able to reduce costs, and have more time to focus on your core capabilities. It really is worth it, so give it some thought! And that’s my Niccolls worth for today!