Written by Bob Stoneking, HighGear Evangelist

Raised up hands and arms of large group in seminar class room to agree with speaker at conference seminar meeting room

It’s soul crushing, right? Everybody was aligned on the need, you collectively defined objectives, the consulting team was great, your team welcomed and contributed to the process, then nothing.

Well, nothing other than the report that’s collecting dust on your desk.

Service providers are playing an increasingly important role in digital transformation. Enterprises seek to capitalize on specialized domain expertise to create competitive advantage, but ROI can be anemic. More specifically, the transformation value provided by service providers is falling short relative to the costs. And as organizations become more cost conscious, this gets negative fast. Recent survey data, contained in “Forrester Infographic: Great(er) Expectations: The State of Transformation Services, 2020,” shows that:

“…Only 28% of respondents feel successful in their use of third-party services providers for their transformation.

Why is that? Why don’t these engagements deliver the efficacy gains they promise?

In many respects, it’s rooted in organizational and relationship maturity. Did you and your service provider spend enough time discovering? If not, you likely created air gaps between their analysis and your operations, right from the beginning.

Consider this, if your business did not ask the right questions of itself, to frame the engagement properly with the service provider, that will constrain the transformation’s value.

Similarly, if the service provider can’t operationalize their expertise by helping you make and monitor specific changes across key components of your business, their ability to define and drive results is diminished.

So, what to do?

Engage your internal experts – go to the Gemba.

Stop corrupting the transformation cycle. Connect the insight of your partner with the capabilities of your team in a change-management-centric environment. Assign people that know the most and perform the specific tasks that can most quickly drive incremental and meaningful change. Then monitor progress and publish results.

“I think… what gets measured, gets done.” (Demming)

If you want engagements with your outside experts to be an empirical success you must take this old adage into account – You get what you inspect, not what you expect.  That means that if the human-to-human components of a reinvigorated process are opaque, then the results will also be opaque. So, we if we take that to its logical conclusion, a process that cannot be inspected will not deliver what was expected.

This means that we have to expect that our transformation service provider is going to be able to deliver complete end-to-end visibility over new processes whether they are completed internally, outsourced to the service provider, or a hybrid of both.  Simply taking over, or re-architecting processes is no longer enough. Operational process visibility must be a deliverable, whether a leave-behind or part of a long-term partnership. If you think about it, you will be doing your transformation service provider a favor and greatly increase your own ROI, or at least identify where course corrections are needed, sooner.

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