Regular Engagement Maintenance, a continuous effort in the relationship

As a huge fan of the TED talks, I quite regularly listen to the diverse range of speakers telling about their expertise and providing new insights. A recent example of a very interesting presentation was from Dan Gilbert who talked about The psychology of your future self. He makes the point, and supports it with scientific research that individual personalities are basically work in progress. People delude themselves that they are the end-product of their personal history and although they recognize they have changed over time, they expect that future changes will be very limited. Dan Gilbert proves that this is not the case, and shows how we keep on developing our values, preferences and behaviour.

Personal and professional impact

Obviously this insight has impact on all type of relationships both personal and in business. And since sourcing engagements are basically multi-level business relationships, it makes perfect sense that the requirements of all stakeholders also change over time. So on top of business drivers and market trends, psychology will also incur changes in the context of a sourcing engagement. With a change in context there should also be a process to align the engagement itself with potentially new requirements. This is one of the reasons why sourcing engagements need regular maintenance.

In an earlier post I talked about optimizing the SLA but that’s only a small (although important) part of it. Clients and vendors should regularly review whether the whole governance as set up at the start of the contract is still addressing today’s requirements. Is the meeting structure still supporting the goals of the engagement, can the reporting and information flow be further optimized? But also: are the people involved still the right people in the right place? Is their role in the engagement still properly using their skills and experience and providing proper challenges for individual development? Given the dynamics of a sourcing relationship it would be surprising that the same people are best equipped for the full life cycle of the engagement. Job rotation at the main interfaces can reinforce the engagement from both sides.

Regular maintenance is about making pro-active changes before something is actually broken to avoid the impact of a real failure. I think Dan Gilbert gives us an additional reason to regularly look at an engagement and do so with also the people perspective in mind. As sourcing consultants when asked by clients to execute a quality assurance review a couple of years into the contract, this is an aspect we will certainly address.