Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Today is the first day of the outsourcing of my position. Starting today, I am no longer supporting our organization in terms of SAP support. Instead of contacting me, they will have to open tickets with the support group directly. While we had always had this similar set-up with me being the intermediary, reviewing the requests before tickets are opened, from today on, the tickets will be directly opened by the users.

The support organization is pretty capable. So, I don't see any reason why this situation cannot work. The drawback of course, is the turnaround of the tickets. My experience has been that if I took the time to review the issue first, I was able to turnaround a problem within a shorter period of time rather than when I decided to open a ticket immediately for the user without reviewing it first. When I did the latter, the support could take up to 500x longer than if I reviewed it first.

The whole reason for the outsourcing is that strategically, we can properly "size" our organization depending on the situation. If we have a lot of projects, the consulting firm will be able to increase the headcount instead of us. Conversely, during slower times, the consulting firm can reduce the support they provide as well. This supposedly will make us more responsive to the changing IT requirements.

I understand this strategy, and while I think that it is basically sound, the problem lies in having the right skills in your own organization. Will our company be able to keep the knowledge within our ranks, or will it lie in the consulting firm's hands? If we do not keep the knowledge, the consulting firm can basically charge us whatever they want because we don't have any way of having a countercheck. Currently, when I see that a ticket gets turned around much longer than I anticipate, I can complain because I know how long the task should be taking. When the bills come, I can argue whether the billing is right or not.

There are pros and cons to outsourcing IT and other functions. The question is, will an organization retain its competitive advantage when the organization is composed of people with other allegiance? Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, said that today, only the organization's people provide the competitive advantage in the marketplace. Yes, by outsourcing IT, A/R, Payroll, HR etc., you may be able to cut costs, but then what if somehow, these are the departments which could have created some kind of competitive advantage for your company?

The company will live on without me. The question is, are they going to get what they paid for?

Mood | Gloomy

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