A record number of outsourcing contracts were issued in 2011. Based on our project findings, ISG has pinpointed an increasing focus on, and need for, a sound communication strategy in these transactions — a plan that starts during the RFP phase and continues through the transition and transformation phases. A smart communication plan is essential to and will play an increasingly central role in stakeholder management as it grows along the maturity curve of buyers and providers.
Follow these Top 5 tips for improving communication and stakeholder management during a sourcing RFP phase:
1. Create a strong steering committee. Your steering committee is a critical factor for the success of your transformation project. Be sure to engage C-level participants and internal management-level business ambassadors who will receive the services in the future. Use steering committee meetings to enable committee members to assume accountability and responsibility for the project progress, decisions, guidance and stakeholder management for the entire project. Gain consensus with them on official internal communication about the project.
2. Ensure provider communication. Request weekly meetings at the Program Director level and biweekly meetings at the executive level to ensure continuous engagement of the provider. If you downselect and remove a bidder, spend time on feedback meetings to maintain a productive relationship in case you need to work with the bidder on other projects. Make sure to facilitate questions from the provider through a communication expert during the due diligence and negotiation phases.
3. Require project team communications. Make sure that your project team is aware of key messages including background for this sourcing initiative, objectives, current status and confidential matters such as human resources. Encourage the team to raise questions, and create a way for them to ask even if the project manager is not physically available. Design weekly workstream leader meetings and continuously schedule project all-hands meetings to create transparency of the project up and down the management chain.
4. Drive stakeholder management. Analyze your key stakeholders on a continuous basis as a project sub-workstream by asking the question: what is the level of influence and impact they have on our project? Ask them to take action to support the project, and track this through your project management office and communications workstreams. Include both single stakeholder and stakeholder groups. Workers Councils, especially in Europe, will need your attention early on in your project.
5. Provide business status updates. Build a community of operational people (such as IT people on the business side) who are going to buy your services in the future and provide continuous status updates and dialogues with your project team. Involve them early on. It will make life much easier once the service catalog is defined.
To learn more about specific stakeholder management and communication activities during your sourcing program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.