Strategic program management in global sourcing relationships

Strategic program management in global sourcing relationships

The last decade witnessed the emergence of global sourcing as a strategic weapon for the C-level to drive operational and financial improvements in IT to increase shareholder value. The trend gained momentum during the Y2K era driven by a need for mainframe resources.

The recent recession witnessed the accelerated acceptance of “lift and shift” activities to support applications and non-critical activities. The model matured over the years as companies experienced positive results like reduction in total cost of ownership and access to global skills. Encouraged by success, service providers invested in innovation, global talent acquisition and flexible execution capabilities to improve service delivery for their clients.

Today, the model is more complex than ever. Even though most companies want to improve and optimise outsourcing practices, most are not sure where to begin and make gradual changes. Clients want the best service at the best price – which is often a competing expectation with the service provider’s desire to make higher profits.

The transition and management model is fairly commoditised for low-end services (e.g. application and infrastructure support). More complex services that require deep business and product knowledge, and non-standard methodologies usage, often require innovative thinking on delivery and integration planning.

Factor in all the politics and expectations from people, process and technology standpoints on a large and diversified project portfolio and it can easily become a management nightmare if consistent support, processes and oversight are not well established.

The increasing acceptance of the global sourcing model has transformed how projects get executed. IT departments have matured over years and incorporated practices to manage increased complexity. Driven by the need to keep the focus on business value, one visible trend in value-focused organizations has been the emergence of Strategic Global Sourcing Program Management Offices (PMO) within sourcing departments.

Your PMO can be two to five per cent of your total spend depending on your scale. Numerous surveys have indicated that benefits from PMO far exceed the investments. The strategic importance, business case value expectations, and volume of your sourcing initiative, should define the need for PMO.

Value from centralised PMO oversight is directly proportional to the scale of your initiative. As a rule of thumb investments in PMO may be worthwhile when the offshore initiative has at least 125 resources and a portfolio of 20+ projects. The greater the size, scale, and similar nature of projects in portfoli, the better the value, and lower the cost.

As a strategy, companies should design the blueprint of the PMO as part of the business case. Keeping the focus on internal readiness is critical and companies should outline clear guiding principles and a mandate for the PMO. Your PMO within strategic sourcing should also include partner account managers.

Transparency on offshore operations with your partner account managers can help build a strong relationship and mutual trust. Smaller PMOs with fewer than 300 resources can be run as a matrix organisation. Larger PMOs would require some core roles like Program Manager, Transition Manager, Contract Manager, Infrastructure and other Logistical support. The team should be designed to have a mix of strong business-facing, leadership, technical and coordination skills.

Design your offshore PMO to be value-focused, nimble and innovative. Your Program Manager should be comfortable with large settings, third-party vendors and higher management and should play a critical role in ensuring strong relationships and executive sponsorship for the program.


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