I believe in outsourcing. Actually, I believe in right-sourcing – using the best combination of resources (internal and external) to get the job done. But I’ll focus our discussion here on outsourcing – tapping into external resources.
With many pharmaceutical companies making massive cuts in headcount, outsourcing is an even bigger deal – because the work still has to get done somehow. So let’s talk about what your company is doing with outsourcing (we’ll focus here on sales training in pharma, but many of the principles applies to other divisions of pharma, and to other industries).
I see at least three levels of outsourcing typically happening, each of which requires different types of relationships with different kinds of providers:
1. Project – Very common form of outsourcing, where you contract with a company to create or perform something, while you still manage the overall process. Typically, there is a final deliverable at the end. Sales training departments work with external providers to develop launch training modules, workshops, digital tools – you get the picture.
2. Project/Process – When internal resources (personnel and infrastructure) are too thin to carry out an initiative, an outsource partner is often engaged to take over much of the project. Learning technology and data management is now commonly outsourced at this level with externally-hosted solutions. Large-scale meetings, with a million logistical details, typically come in at this level as well.
3. People; or Project/Process/People – Companies are demanding lower headcount and more flexibility, so the engagement of personnel from outsource providers is ramping up. Larger and more specialized companies are able to provide staffing in ways that avoid “hard” headcount, and in some cases, can also take over entire functions with both people and large-scale solutions. Building new capabilities and centers of excellence can be outsourced to companies with specialized skills, infrastructure, and people-expertise.
(Let me interrupt the flow of thought to remind you that Impactiviti can help you find right partners for all of these needs, including large-scale outsourcing. We’ve done the homework for you. Just call us at 973-947-7429)
Outsourcing can be scary business, so what most clients are looking for includes the following:
- Proven experience (at the level of service desired)
- Capacity and scale (the ability to nimbly and flexibly meet changing needs)
- Change Management/Process blueprint (for larger-scale outsourcing – do NOT underestimate this!)
As with everything, there are tradeoffs. Outsourcing has great benefits, but the more you outsource – particularly when you get to the “people” part of the equation – the less the training department may be a seedbed for deepening corporate culture. As one of my clients eloquently put it in a phone call last week, as leading employees rotate into and through the training department, there is an impartation and spread of corporate culture and values that may be lost if more central functions are outsourced. That’s a legitimate concern.
What other benefits – and drawbacks – are you seeing from outsourcing? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments, or e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to extend the discussion. We’re going to see this trend grow and evolve – let’s prepare ourselves and each other by talking about it.
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Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.
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