State of Flux

Service Transitions Are a Fact of Life in the Outsourcing World

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By Priya Patra, PMP

The world of outsourcing is chock-full of transitions. An organization might choose to transition services from itself to an outsourcing vendor, or it might move services from an incumbent vendor to a new vendor. In either case, project managers often are tasked with overseeing the transfer of roles and responsibilities. Transition management has emerged as a sort of subset of change management, focused on ensuring the organization transferring services doesn't experience disruptions. The basic goal? Keep business as usual running smoothly.

A couple of years ago, I managed a large-scale transition of 36 different IT testing services that were spread across four continents and four business verticals. The four-month program consolidated these services into a single-site testing center at the customer organization. Through it all, I acted as a kind of specialized program manager—helping my team execute the large-scale transition in phases:

Planning: Instead of taking the same approach for each service transition, I focused on the complexity of each. Complexity was determined based on things like business criticality, resource dependency and documentation level. Most common mistakes made in transitions involve focusing only on knowledge transition. So our team liaised with the vendor team to understand and gather end-to-end process requirements focusing on people, process, technology and infrastructure.

Design and setup: This stage of the program involved gathering all the resources and technical requirements required for implementing the transition—for example, any special infrastructure or security requirements. We uncovered any lead times for acquiring needed information and revisited the plan periodically to ensure we addressed any new requirements.

Implementation: This phase focused on executing the transition plan on schedule and tracking progress through a dashboard. A cross-functional team encompassed process/operations, technology and human resources experts. I kept the team engaged by encouraging collaboration with members of teams at other vendors, along with various stakeholders.

Steady-state delivery: This phase involved the closure of all key deliverables and moving into the new business as usual, i.e., the steady state. This included a formal handover process to the regular operations team involving the client project and business teams. From this point on, any outstanding issues and action items still on the dashboard were to be managed by the operations team.

In the end, strong risk management drove success. Periodic meetings with the incumbent vendor, customer organization, end users and internal stakeholders helped us to identify risks and mitigate each of them. Our risk log was in flux—just like the services we transitioned. PM

img Priya Patra, PMP, is a regular contributor to Project-Management.com and a program manager in the IT sector who lives in Mumbai, India.

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