For outsourcing to be successful, it has to have buy-in from top
management. It also has to be viewed as something that creates more
value to shareholders, customers, and the outsourced employees. If
employees move from the client's organization to ours, we need to
show them they can grow their skills and careers better with us. We
spend a lot of effort on that transition.
AMERICAN WAY: How can executives better use consultants?
FOREHAND: Companies that use consultants effectively control
the process and take responsibility for the way they use
consultants - or any business partner. Many of our client
relationships go back 15 or more years, and we've built up trust.
Increasingly, we are called on to play [a greater role than] the
traditional role of consultants, which is to provide good ideas.
Now, we're asked to provide or devise a way to help them get to the
goal quicker, with shared risks and rewards.
AMERICAN WAY: Systems integration is a principal consultant
service. What's its most important aspect?
FOREHAND: The technological development part is normally not
the difficult aspect; it is just a matter of managing projects. We
encourage our people not to get enamored of the technology, but of
the goal of enhancing business performance, which is something that
is easily forgotten.
AMERICAN WAY: You did a survey that revealed that most
executives don't really appreciate the role technology should play
in mergers and acquisitions. What don't they understand?
FOREHAND: The successful integration of IT activities is an
indicator of the overall success of an acquisition or merger. If it
isn't taken care of properly, it can be a significant impediment.
There needs to be better planning, because the people and
technology issues are often underestimated. Too often, the focus is
on synergies to reduce cost or create new business opportunities,
but the supporting technology or processes don't receive enough
attention. As soon as the deal is done, management is looking at
the next deal. I recently hosted a breakfast with a group of CEOs,
and the feedback was that after a number of acquisitions, the
result is often multiple company cultures.