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As offshore outsourcing has matured the number of books and papers has increased significantly. Finding the right book and information can be both time consuming and expensive, so we have provided some of our own reviews of books on Offshore Outsourcing. All these books have been reviewed by our very experienced Subject Matter Experts and may be purchased through our Website.
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by Mark Kobayashi-Hillary, Published by Lulu 2008
ISBN: 978-1-4092-2461-7. Paperback 68 pp, reviewed by K. L. Tillyer
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary is an accomplished British writer whose books focus on outsourcing, change and globalisation. All of his previous publications, such as 'Global Services' and 'The Outsourcing Yearbook', have been factual academic text books, however with his recent release of 'Who Moved My Job?' he has attempted to break out of this mould and delve into the realms of storytelling.
The rather slender book is divided up into six brief chapters preceded by an introduction to the author and followed by the author's final thoughts. Certainly in the reviewer's case it has succeeded in attracting interest from someone less inclined to read voluminous text books.
The author states that the book is aimed at 'anyone with an interest in how jobs and companies are changing'. Whilst the story is a pleasant one and the concept highly novel and refreshing, I am not sure it really gives a great deal of information about the topic of Offshoring and Outsourcing. This reviewer would have loved to have been invited to share a little more of the knowledge clearly held by Mr Kobayashi-Hillary, which unveils itself a little right at the very end of the book in the 'Afterword and Final Thoughts' section. I found this chapter to, in fact, be the most enlightening of the entire book. I would encourage the author to put much more of his own insight and acquired knowledge into his next story book as there is a definite nervousness about its written style and there seems to have been too much focus on the concept of story writing and not enough time considering the book's contents. It is of course acknowledged that writing a fictional book about what some might consider very heavy and academic topic is no mean feat and therefore the author should be praised for a valiant attempt in doing so.
Three border collies; Winston, Charlie and Blair are the main characters in the story, and they are the medium by which the confusion, frustration and angst of an ever changing global climate are portrayed. Whilst the reader does from time to time get reminded of the issue of Outsourcing, the majority of the reader's time is spent not with Outsourcing in mind but simply enjoying the story of these adventurous collies. Interestingly, the author chose three lower-cost foreign canines from India, Poland and China, to be Winston, Charlie and Blair's replacements. This could perhaps reflect past media views that jobs are vanishing to India, the present cynical views that the Polish immigrants have been gaining more UK jobs and the future consequence of rapid development in Asia.
The concept behind the book is an excellent and compelling one and had the execution have been a little more refined the reader would have been able to compare it with similar ventures, such as Ď'Animal Farm'. However that being said, the author is clearly a subject matter expert and one gets the feeling that with a little more practice, his fictional writing style will develop far further.
Whilst unfortunately the book has not as of yet sparked any major public debate on the topic of Outsourcing, I am sure that with even more book releases expected in 2009, Mr Kobayashi-Hillary is not yet done in trying to fulfil this aim.
I would urge those considering this book to 'Paws for thought' and consider what they are hoping to gain from this book. Whilst it may not highly enlighten readers on the topic of Outsourcing, it is a pleasant story and recommended as a light but informed read for those who love a happy ending.
by Mark J Power, Kevin C Desouza and Carlo Bonifazi
Published by Kogan Page and Recommended by the Institute of Directors ISBN 0-7494-4430-4, Hardback 222 pp, reviewed by John Arthur
Preface and Introduction. A well balanced introduction with clear definitions of what outsourcing is all about in context with the business drivers. The strategic factors driving outsourcing are clearly laid out for the reader and show various (although not all-exhaustive) types of outsourcing models deployed today.
Defining the Problems. The book gets straight to the problem areas and defines ten of the most commonly experienced traps; it also identifies excellent context questions that must be borne in mind for any organisation that is considering outsourcing. The authors constantly prompt the reader with thought provoking questions about the internal and external factors to be considered and identify their potential pitfalls. The book also reveals the essential tasks that an organisation needs to perform in order to implement a successful outsourcing project. The details of the example descriptions are excellent and are obviously based on relevant case studies.
The Outsourcing Life Cycle. The book follows a logical methodology that mirrors the processes of a successful outsourcing experience. Also, it guides the reader through the outsourcing life cycle to provide wise counsel on how to repeat the process through attention to knowledge management, metrics, relationship management and the outsourcing management maturity model.
Needs, Assessments, Management and Relationships. The core of the book consists of in-depth assessments of what organisations need to do. The authors take you through all the steps in a logical process. It starts from the strategic view, where the business, operational, financial and risk elements are assessed. A checklist with conclusions is offered to allow an organisation to review how well they are prepared for an outsourcing project.
This section then goes on to provide checklists and conclusions for requirements of the operational needs, vendor selection, contract negotiation and management, project initiation, possible transfer of control to the vendor and the management of the vendor relationship.
The section on relationships is well covered; we particularly liked the fact that the authors do identify this area as a key factor in the success of an outsourcing project for both customer and vendor. The checklist and conclusions provide valuable insight to the importance of getting the relationship managed properly. This includes the administration set-up, communication and organisation between all parties, knowledge management, personnel management and financial management.
Continue, Modify or Terminate. The authors get this section 'spot on'. They correctly identify that "Outsourcing relationships are fraught with events that require constant management attention". This accurately reflects our own view that the signing of the contract is but a single milestone - the first step of a potentially exciting and rewarding journey, but one which needs constant monitoring, adjustment and vigilance.
The chapter identifies excellent key points that can arise in an outsourcing relationship and what needs to be carefully considered when the time comes to decide whether to continue, change or terminate an existing outsourcing engagement.
The importance of the Exit strategy is clearly emphasised and highlights how to avoid the "hostage trap" by ensuring that good contracts are implemented.
Repeating the Process. This excellent section covers the concepts of how to use and learn from the knowledge gained from previous outsourcing experiences. The chapter also explores the evolving Outsourcing Management Maturity Model, setting up a Relationship Management Office, and the use of metrics to measure the performance of outsourcing projects.
Highlighted is the fact that many organisations sequence through the outsourcing life-cycle process many times, making the same or similar mistakes again and again. The authors argue that the outsourcing process should be constantly reviewed to look for methods of improvement, and ensure that success can be readily repeated on future projects.
Best Practices. The final chapter provides an insight into the best practices used by organisations that have mastered their outsourcing processes. Eight pointers are identified which, if the reader chooses to reference them from within the earlier chapters, will highlight important parts of the life cycle that must be addressed.
This book provides detailed insight into the processes, issues, pitfalls and successes for any type of outsourcing activity. The detail and advice given in the core of the book are first class; the authors do not assume any prior knowledge of the subject matter and they provide a valuable set of customer outsourcing methodology activities. These activities should be the standard for all organisations considering outsourcing. That having been said, it is a pity that the layout of the book is not more user friendly, to match the high quality of the content; otherwise it could easily become the standard reference book of its genre.
If there is any criticism of the content, it must be that there is little scope for the reader to become aware that the selection of a vendor for an outsourcing project is more than just a 'tender type process', especially if the outsourcing model is offshore. For example, the book does not provide enough detail on the pro's and con's of choosing an offshore vendor, or an offshore vendor who might even subcontract parts of the project itself. This complexity of vendor assessment was not highlighted and many organisations do get it wrong. This can often lead to a subsequent change of vendor, which is both costly and damaging for both parties. If the requirements are gathered and the selection methodology performed correctly in the first place, expectations of both parties are more likely to be met and future reselection perhaps avoided.
Whilst Chapter 9 does provide excellent arguments to continue, modify or terminate an outsourcing relationship, we feel that this information could have directly referenced the equally excellent Chapter 1 "Ten Common Traps of Outsourcing". Doing so would have presented a powerful insight into how important it is to make the correct key decisions at the start of the outsourcing project - they will have dramatic implications later on when itís time to review whether to continue, modify or terminate the relationship.
In summary, this book is a potential 'must read' for any organisation which is either contemplating or engaged in outsourcing activities of any kind.
by Ralph L. Kliem & Irwin S. Ludin
Published by Gower ó ISBN 0-556-07799-X, Hardback 240 pp at £57.00, reviewed by S. G. Bullas
The two authors are partners in the U.S. project management consultancy, "Practical Creative Solutions, Inc.". Each author is an accomplished veteran in the field, having worked for both the public and private sectors in a practical capacity and for academic institutions in a teaching capacity. Collectively, they have published numerous books and professional Papers on how to come to grips with common Project Management and Risk Management problems.
The present, rather slim volume is divided into four main Parts which are preceded by a short Preface and followed by three Appendices, a Glossary and Recommended Further Reading. The sleeve notes maintain that the title is aimed at both "professional project managers" and "anyone using human and material resources to accomplish a complex task". However, it would have to be a very inexperienced project manager who did not already have the fundamentals of risk assessment described in the book well on board and for this reason, it can only really be recommended to those requiring a practical introduction to the subject.
Once this distinction has been appreciated, then there is much to admire about the book, not least of which is its clear and, in some cases, novel approach to what can sometimes be a very daunting and complex area. I particularly liked the wide provision of tables and diagrams, which made for easy reference and assimilation of what could otherwise have been rather dry material. Those sections that deal with the mathematical aspects of the subject are explained simply and clearly but the downside is that they do not delve deeply enough into it.
In the Preface lies an expression of approach which, for me, summarises all that is good and bad about the concepts and practice of modern Project Management (as it applies to the software industry, at least):
"...few projects do, in fact, implement all the processes - which is acceptable - or put every project management discipline in place. The ideal should be to institute the right processes at the right time so that the risks causing failure are minimal and odds for success high".
It can often be the case that a project is so over-endowed with descriptions of itself and of the processes used to control it, that the overall cost compared with the attendant risk renders it no longer viable. The remainder of the book sets out to redress this balance using some very sensible methods and procedures that provide a welcome introduction to the subject for those having to undertake the control of risk for the first time.
Part I is an introduction to Risk Management and the factors which influence a project's success or failure. It examines the decision-making processes and looks at the psychology involved.
Part II defines the essentials of successful risk identification, assessment, control and reporting.
Part III takes the form of a case study in which these Risk Management processes are applied.
Part IV purports to discuss future trends in Risk Management. However, it is clear that in this sense, the future is already with us! Topics covered include, amongst many others, reliance on multiple data sources (very apposite with respect to Risk Management!), Continuous Quality Improvement, Business Process Re-engineering, Business Alignment, Strategic Planning, Activity-Based Costing, Globalisation and what the British would call "Stakeholders" but which the Americans are calling "the encouragement of greater partnership and ownership by participants".
Appendix A summarises into 13 pages all the main topics introduced in Part II and subsequently demonstrated in Part III. It is, effectively, a checklist of all of the "doís" and some of the "doníts" that have been learnt in working through the book.
Appendix B presents an overview of the most popular PC-based software currently used (1997) in risk evaluation. Despite now being several years old, much of the software cited is still at the forefront of the industry, with versions running under most of the latest 'flavours' of Microsoft® Windows®. A project management-style approach is taken to help you decide which, if any, is the right one for your own project's objectives and goals. This is a good way to tackle the subject of software aids, but the content is again at a level that is clearly aimed at the novice.
Appendix C lays out in tabular form the most commonly met risks, their possible impact in terms of cost, schedules, quality and people, and then what needs to be prepared as a list of contingency items and actions. The table is itself divided into the six project management topics met in the earlier text, viz.: leadership issues, project definition, project planning, organisation, control and closure. Whilst these headings do not conform to what we, in Britain, have become used to through methodologies such as PRINCE and others, they nevertheless include useful information which transcends any unnecessary rigour.
Finally, the Glossary explains concisely and in plain English many of the terms generic to the Risk Management process. Although you will not find here any of the more specialised definitions used in individual methodologies, it is still one of the best lists of its kind that I have seen.
In summary, I can highly recommend this book as a practical introduction to Risk Management despite its rather high cost; however, the book falls far short of the needs of the experienced project manager who would require substantially more detailed guidance.
Edited by Candace Deans & Jaak Jurison
Published by International Thomson- ISBN 0-7895-0050-7, Hardback 370 pp, reviewed by E. O. Bodger and S. G. Bullas
It is encouraging to see the globalisation of IT firmly established as a subject taught to undergraduate students, and we shall certainly be recommending this book to ours. In the Preface, the editors point out that global IT has many facets. Accordingly they have divided this book into seven sections: globalisation of the marketplace; globalisation of the organisation; global information systems and technology; global connectivity and telecommunications; management of global information flows; integrating systems, technology and people across the globe; and a concluding section of case studies.
Section I provides five papers (including an interesting contribution by Kenichi Ohmae) that stress the radical nature of the changes that global markets can bring and the ways of thinking that are required as a consequence. This section provides a foundation for the subsequent sections.
Section II is about the evolving global business environment and includes an article by Michael Porter, where he applies his well-known value-chain concept in the area of international competition.
Section III comprises only two papers, although these discuss the highly relevant topics of what drives a global business and of organisational change.
Section IV on communications discusses areas such as worldwide connectivity and competitiveness and offers advice on establishing and managing global networks.
Section V explores global information needs and discusses the strategic areas of logistics and distribution.
Section VI reviews what is probably one the major challenges to the globalisation of IT, viz. systems and social integration, and points out that cultural problems can be as complex as any found in the implementation of new technology.
Section VII concludes with some case studies (e.g. making a version of Lotus 1-2-3 for the Japanese) although the entire book also refers to practical examples of global IT.
It is hard to find fault with such a comprehensive collection of papers, and there are only a few criticisms: the book is printed on what feels like cheap paper and there are annoyingly inconsistent reference styles between chapters. Even though this is a multi-author work, surely the copy editing budget could have stretched to ensuring consistency and clarity in this important area for students and researchers? Too many publishers see copy editing as a cost to be minimised rather than as an opportunity for adding value to their products.
In summary: buy it or borrow it; you would have to read many copies of the Harvard Business Review or The Economist to equal what it contains.
Here are some more offshore outsourcing books available on-line.