End - lessons learnt

An outsourcing partnership is only as strong as its people

Whether it’s at the beginning of the partnership, during the transition phase, when representing a client or driving a major transformation programme – people play a key role in outsourcing. Each partnership, situation and individual is different, but together, people can make the biggest difference to a partnership’s success – or its failure.

We’ve covered lots of different perspectives in this report – clients, outsourcers, employees – so what are the key findings?

1. Beat the fear

Outsourcing comes with many negative connotations and it’s no wonder some people are apprehensive about being outsourced. Just like in any period of change, it’s important to involve people early, communicate openly about plans, and be approachable for employees to ensure they support a partnership from the outset.

“People should know that they can ask you questions throughout the process [of transition] – from  how their work will change and what their opportunities will be in terms of career development, all the way, through to simple things like parking arrangements.” Melanie Vongswang, Group HR Director for Arvato UK

2. Share a vision and goals

An outsourcing partnership should be clear about its objectives, and a single, joint vision of success will really help individuals and teams pull in the same direction.

Working across a variety of countries, languages and time zones increases the need for a single and unifying objective for Arvato and Zara.com’s partnership. Each partner is absolutely focused on delivering a great customer experience.

3. Trust your people

As change is the only constant for businesses and public sector organisations alike, people will have to continue to learn and develop. Trust in employees’ capabilities and judgement, combined with the freedom to make and learn from mistakes, will empower them to innovate and embrace new technologies.

“[Twitter] is a unique platform and you have to embrace the fact that it’s instant, direct, personal – and therefore sometimes hard to predict. But we’ve had trust in the approach we’ve developed with Arvato and in our customer service teams who know what they’re doing.” Martin Spijker, Senior Advisor, Central Government of the Netherlands

4. Good governance for good communication

Real partnerships thrive in good times and in bad. To enable people to celebrate success, and to continue to work as one team, even if things get difficult, means getting the right structures in place to support open communication, the flow of information and exchange of ideas and feedback.

"Both partners need to listen to each other. That’s why governance is so important – you need the right forum to move things forward strategically, but also to address the nitty-gritty, day-to-day challenges.” Rachael Charlton, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, East Cheshire NHS Trust

5. Develop a true partnership

For outsourcing relationships to work, a true partnership is essential. This means working as one team, being open and honest, and sharing a mutual understanding.

“We didn’t want a traditional client / contractor relationship - I don’t like the term ‘outsourcing’ for that reason. We wanted a genuine partnership. If you get that right, you’ll have shared values, which ensure a seamless service for customers no matter what changes you introduce.” Huw Bowen, Chief Executive, Chesterfield Borough Council

Empowering people

Delivering programmes and achieving KPIs clearly matters but it’s new ideas, creative thinking and going the extra mile that will exceed clients’ expectations and make real and authentic partnerships.

Empowerment is the key to unlocking people’s potential at every stage of the outsourcing partnership – from having the confidence to ask questions throughout the transition, to receiving training to embody a client’s brand and become a real ambassador; from sharing a vision and operating as one team, to having skills and being encouraged to challenge the status quo and drive real transformation.

The Arvato way

Our approach to people is shaped by our culture of partnership, entrepreneurship and creativity. It’s only by empowering employees and giving them the tools and support they need to develop that we can deliver transformation through our partnerships.

We encourage people to contribute their own ideas to help make partnerships succeed, and we’re committed to training and development to help people become better at what they do and pursue fulfilling careers. We can’t speak for our employees, but we believe that a 90 per cent long-term retention rate among people who have transferred to Arvato speaks for itself.

If you’d like to discuss how we can create an outsourcing partnership that puts people at its heart, please get in touch via email at openoutsourcing@arvato.co.uk