Street Seens: I May Have to Re-think…

Outsourcing used to be a sort of “dirty word” but when the country’s President blesses it you feel some sort of responsibility at least to take a second look.  I acted on that when POTUS opted to outsource a short list of finalists for SCOTUS in the days leading up to the great prime time reveal. And that led to the following sort of mixed bag of reflections on outsourcing 2018.

What are some of its pluses?  Theoretically it saves money, and coincidentally absolves those who avail of markets where wages are lower.  And, of course, it thereby eliminates the need to invite such workers to come here to work “on site.” 

Would the above extend to “non-profits?” Maybe not depending upon where they are located.

Another plus could be that the outsourced workers and their handlers will be open to being told precisely how they should/should not do their jobs. For example, what questions one does or does not ask those who come seeking the outsourced responses. 

On a philosophical level, one can eliminate the need to wrestle with any issues considered too challenging.  This greatly enhances the value of the outsourced product for those who would prefer not to have to deal with unwelcome complexities, making it a fine solution for those who are impatient with long and/or overly intellectual debates.

Linguistically, outsourcing can remove the need to analyze or even translate the feedback (should any be generated in the course of the project.) 

That raises the issue of how to recruit the outsourcer/s.  If you don’t want to have the bother of any ambiguity, you can simply hire only a firm with a track record of defined and unvarying language preference or other capabilities.  A quick check of credentials should make that relatively easy and/or painless.  Life has enough uncertainties without having to invite more because of whom you hire. 

In the exercise of outsourcing it is preferable to confine the scope of recruitment by either a quick chat (or social media exchange) with the top executive serving as its current leader.  That should, predictably, cut down on the chance of getting any surprises. It is therefore desirable to look to a candidate for the outsourcing job with a proven track record and/or manageable “paper trail.”

Now all this is beginning to sound like it could generate a lot of “extra work” thereby negating the value of the very outsourcing under consideration. But, on the other hand, it could win the one who opts for outsourcing, (thereby risking the possibility of sounding intellectually lazy) kudos for the diversity of options that were considered in the lead-up to the decision to outsource.

In a world where each seemingly simple decision could bring along with it the unwelcome specter of after-the-fact surprises (stimulated by those on the hunt for the details that were not in the mix because they were judged in advance not to be relevant.) It will be vital for the one hiring the outsourcer/s to weed out any Trojan Horses of unexpected alliances or previous associations. 

For example, it is advisable only to shop alumni of West Point if you are averse to points of view more likely to be found in workers who hail from Annapolis.

So, I suppose, in summary, that outsourcing can be a risky HR policy. One doesn’t want to develop a reputation for changing horses in mid-stream, still less in the opening of a race more like a steeplechase that has to withstand so many twists, turns, and hurdles. But in the end of the day it opens up vast amounts of time and energy that can be deployed to tasks more likely to burnish the reputation of the company that outsources, portraying it as admirably single-minded.

In any case, and forgive the mixed metaphor, the jury seems still to be out on the issue of outsourcing.  So, to quote an oft-quoted source, “We’ll see.”

Photo: Shutterstock

About Annette Sara Cunningham (119 Articles)
Annette Sara Cunningham comes to Street Seens and Woman Around Town as a “villager” who migrated from Manhattan, Illinois to Manhattan 10065. She is currently the recovering ringmaster of a deliberately small three-ring enterprise privileged to partner with world-class brands to make some history as strategist and creative marketer. The “history” included the branding, positioning and stories of Swiss Army’s launch of watches; Waterford Crystal’s Millennium Collection and its Times Square Ball; the Orbis flying eye hospital’s global assault on preventable blindness; the green daring that in a matter of months, turned a Taiwan start up’s handheld wind and sun powered generator into a brand standing tall among the pioneers of green sustainability; travel to Finland’s Kings’ Road and Santa’s hometown near the Arctic Circle; the tourism and trade of Northern Ireland; and the elegant exports of France. She dreamed at age 12 of being a writer. But that dream was put on hold, while she became: successively, teacher of undergraduate philosophy, re-brander of Ireland from a seat at the table of the Irish Government’s Export Board; then entrepreneur, as founder and President of ASC International, Ltd. and author of Aunts: a Celebration of Those Special Women in our Lives (soon to be reborn as Aunts; the Best Supporting Actresses.) Now it’s time to tell the 12-year old that dreams sometimes come true.