This project was an attempt to explore the perceptions that professional have toward outsourcing business process to offshore third parties; mainly from India. To achieve this end, first an in depth literature review was conducted to gain familiarity with the current state of research. Then an interview and survey were administered to collect data in order to gain even further insights into the role outsourcing has on organizations.
To achieve our stated goals, the group devised a project that included contacting key executive decision makers. Our goal was to reach out to individuals who held such positions in thirty organizations at the minimum. However, we quickly learned that the people who were employed in such high level positions were often difficult to contact and required extended notice before any opportunity was available in their busy schedules. As a result, the target numbers of surveys were not collected and roughly fifteen to eighteen were gathered from companies in each sector. Yet the experience offered a great deal of insight into some of the more subtle aspects of the business world.
During the progression of the project, there is much that was learned. This obviously includes insight into the processes regarding business process outsourcing; even though the targeted number of surveys were not gathered. However other insights not related to the central topic were also gathered. To explore these in more depth the following sections will outline various aspects of the lessons learned throughout the duration of this project.
Purpose & Problem Analysis
The initial stages of the project were fraught with uncertainty. Not only was there limited background knowledge held by group members but there was also some conflicting ideas to which direction the project should head. Each group member seemed to have a different idea about the project's scope on how to proceed with next steps.
After some group storming and norming, the group finally achieved a level of cohesion that allowed for the project steps to be developed and the resulting tasks to be distributed. There were many steps and obstacles that had to be overcome before the group members felt comfortable enough with each other to overcome interpersonal issues. Subsidiary problems also included items such as difficulty contacting key level executives and developing an appropriate survey to collect the necessary data.
This stage of the project represented a bulk of the project's scope and consumed a lot of time. In order to gain a respectable working knowledge of the current state of research a plethora of various types of sources had to identified, rated, and the results compiled before it was possible to gain enough insights for the group to feel comfortable with the relevant information. It was also necessary to transform the information gathered into a coherent base in which targeted questions could be built upon for the survey development that would come later.
Personally, I learned a great deal about various research methods. I also learned such things like how to rate the reliability of various sources, how to deal with conflicting statements, and how to communicate with team members so that information could be shared.
Fact Analysis and Synthesis
Once the group's knowledge base developed to a working level, then the group had to compile information to condense it the sources that were most relevant to the task at hand. Each member contributed items that they thought should be included and consensus was attempted to be achieved at each stage in the process. When consensus could not seem to be reached, often there was an informal and somewhat impromptu vote taken to make a final decision.
This was also a difficult task because various members had conflicting ideas about what was relevant and what needed to be included in the project activity and the following survey development phase. There were many opinions on which survey information should be highlighted as well as the best approach for design. After considerable efforts made by all the members of the group to settle differences, a resulting body of ideas was produced that, at the very worst, was at least tolerated by all members.
Feedback to Client
Providing feedback to the client also was a task that most members were relatively unfamiliar with. We learned that communication to clients is vastly different in substance than other academic work. For example, as opposed to being exhaustive, the information should be as concise and informative as possible. The executives the group was attempting to contact were hard enough to gain access to let alone have very much time to engage in a thorough conversation. Thus this was also a source of conflict in the group since there were also various ideas presented of how and what information should be developed and presented to the individuals who agreed to participate in the survey.
Solutions were presented by various members through deliberation and negotiation. This was often a source of frustration and time consuming at various points in the project. However, in many cases the process seemed to create better solutions through negotiation than otherwise, but not always. I realized that rating the group's performance is a highly subjective undertaking.
There were many times in the project's duration where the group would have to evaluate several different alternatives. The most common form of group evaluation that was used was voting but the group generally took effort to try to reach consensus though this was not always achieved. It wasn't that group members were trying to be disagreeable; it just seemed that each member placed different priorities on some of the evidence that was gathered.
Proposals to Client
The group focused their attention on trying to respect the clients time at all times. Each proposal, conversation, or survey was developed to be concise as feasibly possible. It was understood that clients' would not appreciate our efforts if they felt their time was being wasted in the event; nor would they agree to give us any time at all if we requested an unreasonable amount. Preparation seemed to be the key in effective communication with clients.
Planning for Implementation
Implementation planning was also challenging at times. There were major constraints in our approach with the most notable being time. With deadlines approaching, major concessions had to be made in order for the project to be implemented effectively. This served as a major limitation to the project and many other minor limitations resulted from basically running out of time.
Interfacing with clients can be a difficult task. Working with these professionals gave me as much insight to the business world as the research question itself. Not only did we have to respect the clients time at all points in the project, but we also had to determine how and who would communicate with this group. It was determined that clients should have as few points of contact as feasible with the preferred position being having one contact. This was achieved rather well and the group also was able to communicate the results of communications with clients in a relatively efficient manner. The interaction with the clients served as a situation in which communication skills were fostered.
Group management was a key element to this project. The group had moments of great cohesion as well as moments of great frustrations. It seemed as if the group evolved through the forming, norming, storming, and adjourning stages as is expected with many groups. The most notable exception would be that once the pressures of the deadline were becoming more salient, this pressure forced additional conflicts among group interactions. However, overall, the group met most of its challenges with success and served as an invaluable experience in terms of working in a group environment.
Application of Skills, Theory and Knowledge
There were basically two types of skills that were required for this project. The first set is composed of academic skills. As a group we were required to perform research individually and then compile a database of collective knowledge. Researching the issues relevant to the project was challenging and it was sometimes difficult to grasp various theories and convert them into group knowledge. However, there were many gains made by the group in terms of how to achieve collective knowledge.
Another set of skills that were required for this project were definitely interpersonal skills. Not only did the group have to work together to complete activities that the project required, but it also had to communicate with clients and organize the relevant pieces of information that resulted from various forms of communications with clients.
Personally, I feel I learned from this project in several different areas. For example, I definitely know a lot more about outsourcing, on a broad level, than I did before I began the project. Not only that, but I also learned a lot of…