The Role of HR and Communications in BPO

By Mark Woessner, Director, The Hackett Group Your analysis of outsourcing is beginning to move forward, you’re beginning to draft an RFP, you’re assessing the population of providers to begin your focus and you have included your IT team in mapping out your systems and applications landscape. Have you included your HR and Corporate Communications team in this analysis? Are they aware of the scope? Are you fully aware of the role that HR and Communication planning needs to play in this important initiative? If not, please read on. Including HR and Communications early on in the process is imperative. This strategic initiative will touch HR issues as much as any technology or process transformation. The entire project will fail without a strong and well thought out HR and communications strategy. First of all, you will need HR’s input to provide salary and severance data to develop the business case. Furthermore, you will need to include, at minimum, your process leadership team to develop RFP components, answer provider questions and seek their input on provider capabilities. Without a doubt, there will be stress on your organization from an employee standpoint. What is your communications plan? Who will be delivering that message? Which employees will receive specific messaging? As the initiative continues, more of the employee population will be aware of the project, and providers will be on-site for due diligence activities. What will you tell the organization? Your leadership team may need to travel to offshore locations for your due diligence. What and how you communicate to the employees is critical at this point. You cannot lose control of the organization and you must continue operational performance. How will you manage possible flight risk? Will you be offering retention bonuses for key individuals to stay on through transition? Who will be in the retained governance organization? These questions need to be defined at this point or your project is in jeopardy. Furthermore, by now, knowledge of the initiative may have “leaked” to the local press. The Communications team will need to have a scripted message prepared to deal with inquiries as to the initiative. You’ve now decided to move forward and sign an outsourcing agreement. The transition will occur in multiple waves and last anywhere from 6 to 18 months. Affected employees will need to be notified, severance packages will need to be communicated, retention bonuses (if required) will need to be enacted, and job outplacement services will need to be provided. The organization will undergo a large change management effort and HR will need to lead this undertaking. Do not underestimate the need for HR and communications teams to be involved very early on in the initiative. Obviously, the input and workload for HR increases as you make a decision to move forward, however their input and involvement is required from the beginning