by Jo Geraghty and Derek Bishop

Outsourcing the culture

One of the side effects of the recent recession is the growth in outsourcing. IT, HR, accounts, marketing — nothing is now sacrosanct as organisations, large and small, recognise the value of bringing in experts on a part-time basis to manage essential business functions.

This brings its own challenges when it comes to culture. Values, such as timeliness, accuracy and customer service, may depend as much on delivery by the outsourcing agents as by internal functions. So organisations cannot afford to overlook the importance of the culture when outsourcing activities to third parties.

Just as it is important to hire for cultural fit, so too it is vital that outsourcing suppliers are also appointed on the basis of cultural fit. This may require some form of cultural due diligence as part of those in charge of the tendering process and it will certainly mean that contracts should include the expectation that values, beliefs and behaviours will meet expected parameters.

The second stage in the process is to take time to share the organisational culture with the outsource partners. This may take the form of discussions, training, guidance, or even embedding outsourced employees within the organisation for a period of time. Here again, there is no room for complacency and checks should be undertaken on a regular basis to ensure that the outsource organisation is performing as expected.