Monday, November 23, 2009

Nurturing Alumni for the Right Reasons

By Steve Jandrell - Co-Founder, CandidAdvisors

As a former Principal with Ernst and Young, I attended the Atlanta Alumni meeting at Villa Christina on November 19, 2009.

I have to commend E&Y for a well organized and productive Alumni meeting.   It was a real pleasure to reconnect with some great people – former colleagues - who are friends and thorough professionals. While the evening was primarily social - catching up with where folks are and what they are doing - it was also a good opportunity for networking.

It was also a great reminder of the caliber of people who are part of the E&Y family: John Fridley, Bill Hartman, Jim Jancik, Ian Cooper, Steve Bucalo, Ron Barton, Chris Clark, Matt Rodgers, and Harlan Graiser, just to name a few.

In this economy, where there are challenges at every turn, the notion of client service and offering value has never been more important. As we’ve watched the consulting model become more of a commodity where  cost is the primary criterion for clients to buy advice, to be among folks who know how important it is to add value and make a difference is so refreshing.

The E&Y Alumni model is a good one. In building our new company CandidAdvisors, we have adopted the standards, ethics and client service focus that are part of the E&Y DNA. Thank you E&Y for a great evening and for the values that the Firm lives and each of us have adopted.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

3 Critical Questions to Simplifying Complexity

By Bill Frech

How many different outsourcing contracts does your company have?

Most large companies find themselves with multiple contracts in the IT and BPO space, often with different providers. In fact according to Julia Kotlarsky, an Associate Professor at the Warwick Business School, most businesses are throwing billions of dollars at IT outsourcing contracts despite having little understanding of what they spend or get for their money.

This multitude of contracts has resulted in more management complexity and in some cases more complexity for the end-user. Frequently, separate organizations or different groups within the same organization manage these contracts.

3 critical questions:

1) Are contracts still providing value to the company?
2) Are contracts still in support of the company goals?
3) Are the end-users of these contracts getting what they need to run their business on a daily basis or are shadow organizations and solutions arising?

This white-paper "Outsourcing has become an Evolution to Complexity, Increased Cost and Unknown Value" will discuss how companies have evolved to this situation and what they need to do to put mechanisms in place to ensure the outsourcing agreements support the long-term business goals.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Simplifying Complexity - Part 1: Integrating the Large Team

By Steve Jandrell

Integrating the Large Team:

The Challenge of Unplanned Complexity

Large scale projects, whether they are; the result of a business transformation program, technology based, the result of a merger or acquisition, part of a move to a shared services model or the result of an outsourcing arrangement may be characterized by one or more of the following:

• Multiple teams with individual goals
• A blend of employees and consultants
• Independent contractors
• Outsourcing vendor(s)
• Specialty advisors (e.g., legal, audit, tax)
• Trainers
• Different working styles

This is a complex operating environment. Even the best planning can lead to complexity, but when decisions are made at the tactical level, or are incrementally made, this complexity can grow exponentially. The complexity issue has many dimensions, including differing methodologies, performance expectations, operating cultures (even national culture), standards, definitions of team work and success criteria.

The challenge becomes one of integrating potentially disparate groups into one cohesive whole. To achieve this, these questions need to be answered in the affirmative:

- Is there clear, visible and active sponsorship?
- Is the end goal defined in tangible and specific terms for the entire effort?
- Is a leadership structure in place with roles and responsibilities unambiguously defined?
- Has a brand identity been created?
- Is there a detailed program plan with supporting project plans?
- Are milestones and measures built into that program and project plans?
- Is there one overarching set of methods and approaches?
- Have performance standards been set and communicated?
- Have cultural differences been discussed, defined and accounted for in plans?
- Have team based and cross team reward and recognition plans been developed and implemented?
- Is a retention and re-entry plan in place for employees/associates on the program?

Creating commonality of purpose is not a one-off effort. Collective success is the definition of program and project success. It needs to communicated regularly and reinforced by leadership action and example.

Read more | Attend a Session

Now THIS is Teamwork

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Achieving More with Less - Positively

From Steve Jandrell, Co-Founder CandidAdvisors

This post is a response to today's WSJ Article Employers Hold Off on Hiring - Doing More with Less -

In many ways, the negatives of an economic down turn and the slow recovery from an employment and jobs perspective, dominate the debate. Economists seem to agree that even with a fair wind, getting unemployment back to 5% will take 8 or so years. As operating costs are cut, hiring freezes put in place, budgets trimmed, productivity requirements inevitably focus on doing more with less. The threat of unemployment makes workers more amenable to working fewer hours while still delivering; process efficiencies and changes in work flow add to the productivity gains. But so much is borne of fear.

There is a point however, that seems to be consistently missed. Business process efficiencies, people working harder, intelligent application of technology are all important, but what about employees raising their game based on the positive perspective of developing an individual and collective sense of high performance and mutual support, regardless of the prevailing economic environment?

Most people want to be part of a winning team. Very few wake in the morning thinking, “I want to sub-optimize my contribution today.” Yet it happens all the time. The solution is not a theoretical, “let’s all bond” but a measured and planned effort to leverage the fundamental human need to achieve and be successful. In so many cases it is at the team level where this can occur.

Internal business and work relationships in corporate America are typically superficial and polite. Stereotypes are formed (often quite wrong), and there is a prevailing attitude of leave decisions on how to improve things to the boss, or he and she will not want to delegate (or in their mind, abdicate) responsibility.

It doesn’t have to be like that. If companies organized to ride the wave of human creativity and people’s need to succeed, and thus created focused support networks, the term empowerment is taken to a different level. This economic climate may be the vehicle for this. Not just doing more with less, or even achieving more with less, but creating a work place of support, positive reinforcement and folks really playing to their strengths. Becoming the true winning team.

In the end, winning a Super Bowl is not about, for example, whether the Quarterback and the Wide Receivers like each other; it is about each player knowing their strengths and limitations, finding ways to work together for maximum impact and celebrating the fact that their individual and collective goals are clear and are given the space and encouragement to achieve them. In this scenario, performance is everyone’s responsibility. If a co-worker is not playing to their strengths, shouldn’t this be of concern to the rest of the team? In so many occasions, it is never really addressed – it is apparently safer not to.

Listen to Steve live via the CandidAdvisors webinar series: REGISTER

Read the original article at The Wall Street Journal

Friday, October 9, 2009

Google Wave - First looks

As seen on Twitter: "RT @mozami OH: Sure, President Obamas got a Nobel. But did he get a Google Wave invite?"

(This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
Created by User:Evil_saltine using Graph 2.6, Photoshop, and Microsoft GIF Animator)

I've been experimenting with Google Wave for about 3 hours now. I like it, but then I like waves. Sine, sound, standing, and now Google.

To start with the basics, the default view has two main panes, with a simple menu on the far left of the two panes. For my screen-shot below, I'm only showing the two main panes.

When creating a wave, you either invite only specific Google wave users to join, or you make it public.
  • To make a wave private for only a select group of users, create a wave and select only specific people from your contact list.
  • To make a wave public, you add to your contacts, and then add that contact to the wave.
The left pane is the Wave In-box. This includes private and public waves. To get started, the key search term is [with:public]. Remove my brackets. Using this command, I see every wave currently public.

By viewing with:public, all waves appear.

Once I open a specific wave, it will appear on the right-hand side of my view, next to my main in-box pane. I can re-size these panes to suit my view.

If I leave a wave and return later, I can then see the number of new responses indicated by a green icon, and when I open the wave, I hit the SHIFT key on my keyboard to forward to any new messages I haven't read.

I can join in, read, drag other waves into a wave, and a wealth of other actions I'll cover in another post.

To focus in on a specific interest, subject, or group, I narrow my search terms. In my last example, I used search term with:public Charleston, SC.

In this way I found local folks, and a wealth of helpful advice. Thank you Calvin Webster!

Tomorrow, I'm going to experiment with adding Blogger and Twitter Robots, and next week I'll be real-time collaborating on a paper via Google Wave with a very talented CTO (more on that later).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On the Wave

Well, I received my Googlewave invite about an hour ago, stumbled around for 15 minutes, and then broke down and read some of the massive help material.

I gotta' tell ya', so far I like it. I conducted a quick search and found a group of 61 users in my local city, added them to my contacts, and had a great chat with Calvin D. Webster II of Calvin is also coordinating Charleston's first BarCamp. Cool guy.

I'll post screenshots tomorrow with some quick navigation tips. I will say for the record, it's easier to navigate and use than I first thought it would be.

Nice job Google. Now let's see what we can do with it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are you ready to ride the Wave?

The invites are on the way, all 100k of them, and the Wave is about to roll, but what does it all mean?

I signed up about six-months ago, and am hoping to get my invite soon, so hope to update with live data asap.

What is Google Wave?

Google Wave is a real-time communication platform. Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

What is a wave?

A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

From my perspective, I'm looking for something more robust than Twitter and FriendFeed, less distracting that Facebook, and something that allows me to expand my business network, manage project resources, build new business relationships, share important ideas, collaborate, and communicate with customers both internal and external in a meaningful way. Oh, and keep it all efficient and organized. Not too much to ask, eh?

From first peeks at the Wave however, my concern is that it may appear complex by many and have a high abandon rate. I believe those who abandon will come back after popularity and proof of usefulness becomes more widely known, but the learning curve for that group will be steeper as more development ensues. is getting in front of the Wave. Here's a great video describing it:

Gravity is a prototype developed by SAP Research in Brisbane, Australia and SAP NetWeaver Development. It provides real-time, cloud-based, collaborative business process modelling within Google Wave.

Mashable has some great articles related to the Wave here, and the intro video we posted a couple of months ago is below. Will you try it?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CandidAdvisors introduces Belbin Team Roles - Achieving More with Less – The Need to Create and Sustain High Performing Teams

Achieving More with Less – The Need to Create and Sustain High Performing Teams

High performance at a team level rarely just happens. Whether it’s planning to win the Super Bowl, delivering team outcomes above expectations or integrating multiple teams, there is the issue of how to maximize the talent and contribution of each team member.

While having clear, measurable and shared team goals is central, it is maximizing team member contribution and building team synergy that often presents the biggest challenge. Typically, relationships within a team are fairly superficial; stereotypes of individuals (often wrong), are easily formed and sustained and discord is not addressed. Teams can develop team dynamic dysfunction, such as a small sub-set of the team dominating discussions.

At CandidAdvisors LLC, we are able to address individual contribution, total team effectiveness and team dynamics to help improve and sustain team performance. We use a sound and pragmatic behavioral approach because behavior is visible; it can be measured, positive behavior can be replicated, and unhelpful behavior for the same reasons can be explicitly discouraged.

To accomplish this, we facilitate a process of individual and group discovery. From each team member’s own experience, we build a picture of what outstanding teaming looks like. In other words, the team creates its own benchmarks to measure itself. The team members then take the Belbin self perception inventory on team roles.

The Belbin was developed by Dr. Meredith Belbin and his team who conducted research at Henley Management College in the UK over a period of nine years and studied the behavior of managers from all over the world. Their book, Management Teams - Why They Succeed or Fail was cited by the Financial Times as one of the top fifty business books of all time.

We use the output of this tool to help the team identify its strengths, challenge unhelpful stereotypes and foster an environment of achievement where each team member’s contribution is not only valued at the individual level, but at the team level too.

For example, the full process is 5 days for a team of up to 12 people:

• 2 days of preparation – understanding specific issues, one-on-one confidential meetings with team members and development of a clear picture of the desired outcome and barriers to that outcome.
• 2 days for the workshop
• 1 day to produce the final team deliverable and record of the workshop.

The result is a focused deliverable of what the team can do to raise its game and how to keep that raised game on track. The workshop creates the energy and direction for ongoing success.

Contact us at or call us at 404-478-4112 for more information

Friday, August 7, 2009

Creating and Sustaining High Performance Work Teams with CandidAdvisors

CandidAdvisors is pleased to partner with and offer the Belbin Team Roles Workshop

Whether you are building a new team, want to refresh an existing team, or are looking to create a common focus between two groups that desire to collaborate more effectively, CandidAdvisors can help. Using a unique and behaviorally anchored approach, CandidAdvisors offers a one to two day workshop, depending on the size of the team. The key elements are:

• Defining high performance in terms of outcomes and behavior
• Using the Belbin Self Perception Inventory, completed on line, with individual feedback and a collective assessment and aggregated team profile
• Showing the relationship between team work and heightened group creativity
• Understanding the need for a sound team process as well as agreeing what roles individual team members can play
• Exploring the options for individual team member contributions
• Having a framework to discuss and measure what total team effectiveness means

This is a facilitated process where the team itself sets its standards in the context of what the team is mandated to deliver, its measures and agrees the means for self correction moving forward. Part of the process includes insight into what each team member potentially brings to the working of the team and what each team member can reasonably expect from other members, including ongoing feedback and support.

Please contact for information on how you can bring the Belbin Self Perception Inventory and Belbin Team Roles Workshop into your organization, and read more about our Partners Here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

From TED - Talks Golan Levin makes art that looks back at you

Take a break with Art from TED

Golan Levin, an artist and engineer, uses modern tools -- robotics, new software, cognitive research -- to make artworks that surprise and delight. Watch as sounds become shapes, bodies create paintings, and a curious eye looks back at the curious viewer.

Half performance artist, half software engineer, Golan Levin manipulates the computer to create improvised soundscapes with dazzling corresponding visuals. He is at the forefront of defining new parameters for art. For more: Golan Levin

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What is Cloud Computing? (What a difference a Year makes)

"Cloud computing is an operations model, not a technology" James Urquhart Market Manager for the Data Center 3.0 strategy at Cisco Systems.

From May 2008 Web 2.0 Expo

From July 2009 OSCON 09: Simon Wardley, "Cloud Computing - Why IT Matters"

Is finding “real” independent advice in outsourcing a challenge?

On CandidAdvisors - by Co-Founding Partner Steve Jandrell

There are many players in the world of outsourcing, from those who help companies select outsourcing vendors, to those who deliver outsourcing services. The one thing all these players have in common is that they need companies to outsource to be able to sustain and grow their own businesses.

But what happens if outsourcing a set of functions or processes is not the right answer from a strategic business plan perspective?

Whether it is on shore, near shore or off shore a key driver (some might say the driver!) in the decision to outsource is long term operating cost reduction.

While cost reduction is a vital aspect of successful management, what about creativity, innovation, knowledge management and outstanding levels of customer service? Then, if the transition to a new operating model is more focused on a date to achieve cost benefits as quickly as possible - without necessarily building in to the transition plan a people and organization perspective that encourages buy in and plans for long term performance and remedies - what needs to happen?

With many companies who have made the decision to outsource significant parts of their operations, after a two to four year arrangement with an outsourcing vendor or vendors reporting high levels of dissatisfaction, how is that recovered?

The potential for any provider of services in the world of outsourcing to have a conflict of interest is arguably obvious. They have people on their payrolls to deliver services. They incent their people to win business and as much as possible. Making the right balanced decision to outsource in the first place, taking into account all factors and not just cost, to transition in an appropriate way and to manage vendors to maintain high levels of performance over time can be a real challenge.

The role of a truly independent adviser at any stage of the outsourcing / insourcing process is clear. But where do business people go to get that independent advice? With that in mind, CandidAdvisors LLC was founded by two experienced and senior practitioners. As Founders, both Bill and I have major firm experience, and have worked internationally.

We have successful track records of providing candid and results focused business advice to top management and to those tasked with implementing changes to operating models. Using our experience of business transformation, outsourcing / insourcing, shared services and organizational change management, we apply this experience through the principal of “best advice” with no hidden agendas. Our solutions are developed based solely on client issues and options and how those solutions fit with the strategic intent of our clients.

Who silenced Google's Voice - AT&T or Apple?

By Karen Masullo for CandidAdvisors

I did two things last week: I got an iPhone and I was invited to the Google Voice Beta. I am thrilled with both. Everything working, my efficiency increasing. All good.

Also, I was excited about AT&T's partnering with Barnes & Noble to offer Free WiFi, and its new SocialScope - "a mobile inbox for your social networks".

My world was at Geekgirl peace.

Yesterday however, I looked for Google Voice applications in the iPhone store.

Boy is my timing lousy.

As covered yesterday in the Silicon Valley Insider:

Google said for the second time in a week that it had invested time and money in creating an iPhone app, only to have it rejected by Apple (AAPL).

This time, it's a Google Voice app that Apple snubbed. Google Voice is an Internet phone service that includes free calling, text messaging, intelligent call routing, etc. Last week, Google admitted that Apple rejected an app for its Latitude social networking service, which Google later launched as a Web site.

But was it Apple or AT&T? Apple says there were redundancies in overlapping applications (what about Skype??), but as mused by Mashable's Stan Schroeder:

Google Voice (Google Voice) lets you do a lot of stuff for free that the AT&T charges for; you can place free calls in the US, you can send and receive free SMS messages. The application is still in beta, invite only stage, but several cool applications that use the service already exist for the iPhone. Sean Kovacs, the developer of GV Mobile, has said on his site that Apple has rejected the application. From his site:

“Richard Chipman from Apple just called – he told me they’re removing GV Mobile from the App Store due to it duplicating features that the iPhone comes with (Dialer, SMS, etc). He didn’t actually specify which features, although I assume the whole app in general.”

Other similar applications, such as VoiceCentral and GVDialer, have also been banned. And Google only has an official Google Voice app for the Android and BlackBerry; now, they’ve admitted that they don’t have an iPhone app because Apple said “no”.

The reason? The application(s) is too similar to iPhone’s own functionality. Like so many other Apple’s app rejection reasons, this one rings phony as well. If nothing that’s similar to functions and features iPhone already has can get approval, then no VoIP apps should be allowed. Also no camera-related apps, like Pro Camera. Fring (Fring)? It lets you place calls, and send free messages, which is similar to SMS, right? Why is that OK, then?

If AT&T is truly the reason behind the ban, is it really in AT&T's best interest to alienate the Google Voice market? There are thousands of small businesses that have found Google Voice a welcome answer to tight budgets, and iPhone users still need an AT&T data plan. Texting still costs.

More important, if this is an AT&T driven action, calls placed to a Google Voice number forward to a real phone--in my case my iPhone.

Isn't this a bit of killing the messenger?

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Social Renaissance of Business

By CandidAdvisor's Bill Frech, @bill_frech

upheavals occurring in the arts and humanities were mirrored by a dynamic period of change in the sciences. Some have seen this flurry of activity as a "scientific revolution", heralding the beginning of the modern age. Others have seen it merely as an acceleration of a continuous process stretching from the ancient world to the present day." Renaissance of the 14th–17th centuries, Shapin, Steven. The Scientific Revolution, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996

Forbes' recently highlighted that the recession may negatively impact the quality of goods and services and will result in reduced consumer access to companies.

Adweek cites; “New research from Interpublic Group's Initiative concludes that the recession is having a far greater impact on consumer spending habits than previous downturns, and that some behavior patterns, as well as brand perceptions, will be permanently changed.”

Forrester Research views this recession as a “…gateway or portal connecting two very different eras.

“When the economic clouds clear, many prevailing elites will have been swept away, organizational structures will have fallen, and many who were formerly in control will have lost power. Those who can speak digital will thrive, and those who cannot will finally get the message and retire.”

Saying that the business world will radically change - that old-line companies will be gone and new socially aware companies will survive to take their place is grossly overstating what may happen.This will not be an overnight change where the "old" ways disappear and the "new" world exists.

There are two primary reasons;

* One, the "old" companies are still powerful from an infrastructure, capital, and customer base perspective. Some of them are willing to change to the "new" world, e.g., Comcast, and some will resist change.

* Second, and probably more significant is that there is a huge group of baby-boomers who are still a force in the marketplace. The baby-boomers represent a group with a significant amount of capital to spend, and many may be uncomfortable with the change needed to work in the "new" world.

I do agree that the way companies conduct business is changing and will continue to change and evolve; potentially this recession is an inflection point for that change.

However, I think this will be a more gradual transition as new technologies and new ways of doing business are tested and companies experiment with different tools and techniques.

Like any other seed change; we don't know what will be on the other side of the change. There will be many people and companies trying different approaches to achieve the winning solution, but only a few will succeed and yes some of the old line companies will disappear…eventually.

I welcome a dialogue. Leave your comments and let's discuss this.


The CounterIntuitive CEO, George F Colony’s Blog, June 23, 2009 The Gateway Recession: What CEOs Will Face Next
Forbes Investopedia, The Impact Of Recession On Businesses by Marc Davis
Adweek, June 22, 2009 Survey: Recession Impact Permanent by Steve McCellan

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Join Us in Atlanta - 1st of Four Presentations at the 191 Club

Counting the Cost….!!
The Myths and Realities of Back Office Business Transformation

Many organizations today are suffering from productivity and revenue declines, lacks of innovation and poor customer service as they try to balance the need to rapidly reduce cost while maintaining viable business operations. Various solutions are being presented and adopted, including Outsourcing, Shared Services, focusing on your core business competencies, etc. But what is the effect of short term decisions about cost containment and efficiency without a clear longer term plan, not just about business survival, but of future growth?

In this unfavorable economic climate the pressure for cost reduction is inexorable and understandable. Yet decisions that potentially compromise corporations’ positive relationships with their customers, vendors and even their own employees are being made on a daily basis. Market share is being put at risk and internal frustrations are growing as non-holistic and non-integrated perspectives are being developed and implemented solely from the cost side of a balance sheet. Imagine a future operating environment where there are 5 to 10 outsourcing service providers, 1 to 3 shared service centers and minimal involvement of the retained organization that must make things work.

The picture is not always bleak. There are successes. But overall over 70% of US companies, who outsource describe the experience as either very or extremely disappointing. After 2 or 3 years organizations are looking for ways to improve the situation.

The 191 Club is pleased to offer four breakfast presentations.
  • The first on July 22nd, is an overview of the process from the decision to transform and adopt new operating models to establishing a long term and viable adaptive process.
  • The second on July 29th, focuses on the decision to transform and the transitioning process, with all the attendant issues involved in creating and establishing a new business model and its impact on the retained organization.
  • On September 10, the third session will be about making it work for the longer term, with the added complexity of leveraging emergent technologies and the need for vigilant governance to have a constant process of alignment to the goals of the business.
  • The fourth on September 23rd is about measurement, sustainment and what to do when it is apparently not working.
The Founders of CandidAdvisors LLC will be your presenters.

Representing a new breed of advisory services needed in this current and developing environment, CandidAdvisors is completely independent, solution agnostic and focused on the principle of “best advice.” Bringing senior experience and objectivity to a space full of vested interest, the goal is to help companies make the right business decisions and implement change that builds and enhances the capabilities of the business today and tomorrow.

For more information on this series, or talks for your organization, please contact

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

WSJ Article on "Shedding Their India Support Service Centers"

On June 8, 2009, the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “Firms Shed India Center to Cut Costs ”.

There is an important distinction in this article that appears to be missed by many people. This is not a backlash to outsourcing; what these companies are discovering is that to run a captive center in India, or any location, is not just about a cost-effective solution for leveraging low-cost labor, it is also about performance.

First, the article discusses that several companies have “shut down” their captive organizations by selling them to outsource providers. Captive organizations are effectively offshore shared service organizations. The captive is part of the company; its employees are employees of the company; the company manages the work and hence, the results. As mentioned in the article, it has been proven that captive organizations are not in themselves cost-effective solutions; performance standards must also be set and managed. Both Forrester Research and TPI, Inc., have done studies to substantiate the fact that captives unto themselves are not cost-effective.

Second, the companies which are selling their captives are setting up long-term relationships with the outsource provider to whom they sold their captive. The jobs are not coming back to the US. As of today, it is still a) more cost-effective to get the work done in a low-cost labor market, and b) the outsourcing of non-core transaction work enables companies to focus on their core business.

We at CandidAdvisors believe that outsourcing of non-core work is here to stay, whether onshore or offshore. Companies are starting to increase their implementation of hybrid solutions, which are a combination of outsourcing and shared services. This approach, with the establishment of the right oversight and governance from a performance perspective, enables companies to manage the support service (i.e., non-core) areas efficiently and effectively, in providing cost-effective solutions that meet statutory requirements, provide key information for decision-making and meet key performance standards

We expect that the trend of leveraging the most cost-effective and efficient way to provide support services will continue and even escalate. But while cost is critical, companies must focus on managing integrated performance to provide better, more reliable information on a real-time basis. This performance point is critical, and will not be achieved by taking solely a cost-savings perspective.

We believe that the industry has reached an inflection point, and needs to start addressing their support services areas holistically, tightly coupling them to their retained organization (support services customers), in order to achieve the desired benefits and be positioned for the future.

Friday, June 5, 2009

A Disturbing Trend? By Bill Frech, CandidAdvisors Founding Partner

Outsourcing is here to stay whether it be onshore or offshore. Companies are in business to make a profit so they will always strive to have lower costs in parts of their business when they can. Today this may mean moving some work offshore to lower labor cost areas.

However, I have heard an idea expressed by a couple of people who were job hunting that is concerning. Given it is only two people it cannot be called a trend, but if I have stumbled on two people thinking this way there must be others.

Both these people expressed the thought that since they had lost there jobs and they have heard that jobs were moving to India that they should move to India to pursue their career. These were both people who had never been to India and sounded as though they had not done much traveling outside of the US.

One of the individuals was on a talk show phone in with the CEO of an Indian company. The CEO was basically explaining about the cost differential between US salaries and Indian salaries. He said that the Indian salaries although lower than the US salaries allowed the Indian employees to live at a comparable standard to how they would live in the US.

What concerns me is these two people, these two data points, seem to believe that living in India would be like living in the US. They have no understanding of the cultural differences, the differences in the standard of living for the majority of people in India, and/or what it would be like relocating to a foreign country.

Moving to India to find a job is not the solution for the vast majority of people. Maybe it would be a nice adventure if you are young, unmarried and have a desire to see the world and different cultures, but having lived overseas it is not a good solution for the average person, especially if they are venturing forth on their own with no safety net.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Shared Services, Outsourcing, Offshoring … Are Any of These the Right Solution for My Company? By Bill Frech

What do you do in this economic environment? There is pressure to cut costs and improve results. However, it is well known that cost cutting exercises alone do not have the desired long term impact without the associated transformation and process improvement.

Today there are so many options and many conflicting stories about problems and successes of the various approaches. However, the one thing you should not do is do nothing.

Rumors and studies abound.

  • Companies are pulling their call centers out of India
  • Captives are more expensive than Offshore Outsourcing
  • Shared services and captives give you better cost savings results than outsourcing
  • The budget the President presented will penalize companies for outsourcing

The bottom line is that, as in the past, companies need a business case as part of a strategic or business plan to understand the cost, risks and benefits for their strategy.

If part of the solution contains outsourcing, offshoring, a captive, shared services and/or improving the work in place then the company will need to ensure the goals, objectives, and costs are clearly documented. For any outsourcing initiative this is done in part through a contract with Service Level Agreements (SLAs), for internal initiative a similar but less formal contract should be implemented so there are clear measures for success. Even if your plan is to leave work locally, where it is today, there must be clear goals and objectives for improvement initiatives if they are to succeed.

Today, most companies are planning and implementing hybrid solutions which are a combination of the solutions options that are structured to best meet their goals while maintaining focus on core competencies. If we use a hypothetical company that wants to improve their Finance and Accounting area they may come up with a solution similar to the following:

  • Accounts Payable – Offshore outsourced, simple repetitive work
  • Accounts Receivable – Posting offshore outsourced, same logic as AP
  • Billing – Stays local due to the need for customer interaction, but improve and simplify the process
  • Credit – Sales force interfaces with credit group that is offshore outsourced
  • General accounting – A combination of local and shared service because it is more complex, takes judgement that is not documented and may require account creation
  • Fixed Assets – This company does a lot of capital projects so the fixed assets move to the shared service operation
  • Financial analysis – A combination of local and shared service center operation with a stated goal and plan to move more to the shared service operation

In this example, you can see that the work being done using a combination of solutions that the client feels best meets their needs and goals while addressing any risks that they have identified.

Of course a business plan for the creation of a shared service center, the offshore outsourcing and the determination of what to leave local was created outlining costs, benefits, risks and vision and plan evaluated several viable solutions.

Another important point is that the plan you develop must be a living document. You must constantly reevaluate the solution in light of the process improvements that have been implemented, the economic situation, changes in the company goals, etc. As noted in the example above this company has a vision to move more analytical work into the shared service center to minimize the work required locally and to help standardize their analysis.

There is no one right answer for companies. Each company must look at their risk profile, the urgency of the need for improvement, their culture, and their ability to change to help determine the right solution.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Start With a Plan, By Bill Frech, Founding Partner CandidAdvisors

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." - Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

When you are undertaking a change initiative, no matter how large or small I am a firm believer that you must start with a plan.

If it is a small undertaking you may be able to use a simple project plan that includes the goals and objectives of the project (including benefits).

However if you are undertaking a larger improvement initiative which involves multiple processes, multiple functional areas, multiple departments, significant capital expenditure, a number of internal and/or external resources you will need a much more comprehensive business or strategic plan. The challenge with these larger initiatives are that they will probably involve more groups with many touch points but there is a high probability that there may be multiple possible solutions.

Given this complexity you can use the development of this business plan to:

  • Involve the effected parties
  • Build support and buy-in for the effort
  • Clearly articulate the goals of the initiative
  • Outline and understand potential solutions
  • Select the optimal solution to meet your goals
  • Identify gaps in your plan (e.g., resources, capital, etc.)
  • Understand and document the risks and benefits of your improvement effort
  • Develop a cost/benefit plan with a project timeline
  • Communicate with senior management to ensure alignment and support
  • Use as a communication vehicle to a broader audience

Another benefit of a plan of this nature is you are able to understand various solution options, understand their cost, benefit, risk, and acceptability to the company and ultimate narrow your options down to the approach supported by senior management.

For example, a client I was working with had two main goals reduce and stabilize there “back-office” costs while setting the stage for future expansion. After careful evaluation and involvement of most of the effected parties we were able to develop a plan that, although global, started with the United States operations and defined how each process would be handled (e.g., remain local, move to a shared service center, or outsource). We also developed a detailed plan for the next steps and a business case so they would understand the costs and benefits of moving forward.

This blog is a brief overview of what should be done to plan for a major change. I have been involved in many of these efforts with all types of companies (i.e., Retail, Entertainment, Pharmaceutical, Manufacturing, Energy, etc.) and have found it the best way to start large change initiatives. You can be sure everyone understands what you are proposing and you will understand the level of senior management support. Best of all, depending upon the scope of your change initiative and the level of detail your organization requires a plan of this nature can be completed in less than 3 months.