For many businesses, the idea of outsourcing seems to be equally scary and exciting. The thought of improved margin, better use of office space and savings on training and recruitment are seductive. The scary elements are numerous, but ‘favourites’ include loss of control, fear of the unknown, and very often a concern that once a service is done by an outsourcer, you’ll be stuck with the service provider in some kind of unholy deathgrip.

Many outsourcers combat this fear with vague reassurances and woolly commercial contracts. Clients are not stupid however. They know that even with a contract which allows for termination they may face difficulties in replacing the service, either by taking it back in house or by finding another, better outsourcer. More than that, though, there is the more ethereal element of  ‘professional behaviour’ on separation.

There are numerous horror stories where the outsourcer makes life extremely difficult either by simply ‘working to rule’ or even by being generally obstructive as the service is taken off them. They can be actively disruptive, or simply completely disinterested in the whole separation issues. For that reason I would recommend that due diligence prior to contract should include the obtaining of a reference from a party who no longer takes the service.

Let’s face it, contracts can have ended for many reasons. We had a recent example where a firm for whom we provide cashiering has decided on a merger, and the new entity will not need our services. The fact that we store no data, and all data in fact remains with the client does simplify things, but more than that it is important to support the handover so that the firm (who to date have been real evangelists for us) will continue to think (and speak) highly of us.

The general trend appears to be a return to ‘relationship buying’- a desire to hear good things about your chosen business partners rather than just trusting gut instinct. It should be a key element of any reference enquiry that the outsourcer will not throw their toys out of the pram at the end of a relationship.