Research the Problems and Perceptions of Problems

Step 3: Research the Problems and Perceptions of Problems

Prior to your first meeting of your company’s problem-solving team, do a little research to understand how the known issues affect your outsourcing relationship.  Don’t forget to look at the perceptions of those issues.

Follow these steps:

Schedule a series of meetings with the key people involved within your company to gather their views and opinions about the outsourced services.  Before the meetings, create a list of questions that covers the key problem areas.  This will not only give you information needed to address the issues, but it will also show your colleagues that you are taking constructive action to deal with the outsourcing issues.

Analyze performance reports for the last 6 months to a year.  You should look for trends of improvement or reduction in consistency and quality of service levels.  Also note how many service targets have been missed and how frequently.

Hopefully, your team has been tracking performance.  Even if you only have paper records, it is important to spend the time and put this information into a spreadsheet for analysis.  If you are using one of the better Janitorial Management Software or Maintenance Management Software systems to actively track performance every day, you should have quite a bit of information available to help in your research.

Identify a set of performance measurements that accurately reflect your improvement goals to address the perceived and actual outsourcing issues.

Talk to your colleagues to see if they have experienced similar issues and see if they came up with a solution.  Essentially learn from other people’s mistakes.

Compile all of your research into one report and have a group of colleagues in your company review it and confirm your conclusions.

Step 4: Informal Discussions between the Client and Service Provider

Prepare a set of questions from what you learned during your research, which should be similar to the questions you asked your colleagues.

Start with your main contact to review your set of questions.  Your goal is to understand how your client (or service provider) perceives your relationship and where they think improvements could be made.

Below are some guidelines to understand perceptions of performance:

Are requirements clearly stated 100% of the time?

Does each organization live up to its promises?  Does each party get things done when promised and are the agreed actions completed up to performance standards?

Are invoices paid on time?  Are invoices dealt with promptly if disagreement about charges occurs?

Are performance review meetings held?  Are they well organized and constructive?

Are problem escalation procedures followed?

How is the overall outsourcing relationship rated?  Do both parties have issues?  What steps can be taken to come up with a compromise?

The key here is to be open to the fact that you might not have as done a good of job as you thought.

This is the stage where you need to listen, not to justify your actions.  This is constructive criticism that you should pay attention to because your client (or service provider) is giving you direct feedback.  If they aren’t happy, then neither are you.

In part 4, we will review steps 5 and 6 of Challenging Failure.  Step 5 deals with developing proposals for remedial action.  Step 6 covers agreeing on an action plan.