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Avoiding Outsourcing Failure

maintenance management

September 2, 2011 - Outsourcing

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is avoiding outsourcing failure.

Directly or indirectly, all maintenance and engineering managers have experience with outsourcing. Many have found great success with outsourcing endeavors, but even more have found problems — even serious failures — with outsourcing contracts and contractors, says Michael Cowley, president of CE Maintenance Solutions, who provides maintenance training, coaching, and consulting services.

Outsourcing can be an effective tool to help managers and organizations make progress toward productivity and effectiveness, but outsourcing is not always a less-expensive or even successful alternative. And there is one common mistake managers make most often that is fatal to the process, Cowley says.

An array of problems, from hiring the wrong contractor or setting unrealistic goals to inadequate contract details or inflexible contracts, can ruin the relationship between the contractor and the manager and lead to outsourcing failure.

Good outsourcing contractors perform an autopsy after the death of an outsourcing contract to determine the reasons it failed and steps the parties involved can take to prevent future problems.

But here is the single most common cause of outsourcing failure: Building owners and managers who fail to understand the existing scope of work and do not offer a vision for measurable maintenance performance.

It might seem difficult to believe that most managers or owners are clueless about the details of the scope or statement of work for the existing job or workers, but it's true, Cowley says. Then they hire a contractor to do the work and expect that company to understand the organization's needs or wants, based only on a one-hour bid meeting and a 10-page document.


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