Your Service Delivery Managers – Expected to be experts in everything!


Most of my clients have built their new service management and governance organizations using the people who were in the lead roles before the outsourcing. There are good reasons for doing this: these are the people who understand the business process, technology, and needs of the business, and generally are the people who helped to develop the services statements of work and evaluate the service providers. Who better to manage the service provider than this team?

However, managing service providers is a very different type of work than managing in-house employees. Working through a third party requires a different skillset; the people in this role need to be good managers, achieve results through influence, understand contracts and how to turn contractual language into results for their business stakeholders, how and when to negotiate with service providers – in a firm but fair manner, support and palliate internal stakeholders, and still, with all this, understand the services for which they are responsible and accountable. I often tell my client’s service delivery managers that they have the hardest job in the company!

TPI’s research has shown some clear issues in this area:

  • Of clients’ staff initially assigned to manage an outsourcing transaction, 60% had no prior experience with outsourcing
  • 40% of clients surveyed said they did not provide any initial training for the team assigned to manage the agreement
  • Only 20% of clients surveyed feel they provide enough training for their staff

So, if the individuals in the jobs before the outsourcing have no prior experience, and have not had any training to help them understand this new world, is it any wonder that there are challenges in the sourcing engagement? And we continue to find that well into the sourcing delivery lifecycle there are often gaps in skills and knowledge on the client side that are contributors to less than excellent service delivery.

Learning about managing third parties doing your work is a long-term activity; it takes consistent and conscious application. At any point in the sourcing lifecycle it makes sense to step back and look again at the skills and capabilities of the service delivery team. We help clients frequently at this point in time, to continue maturing their skills.

Are you having this experience? How does it manifest for you? What are you doing to ensure that your service delivery team continues to grow and mature? What do you find is getting in the way of this maturing process? I’m very interested in hearing from you.

About the author

Cynthia brings 25 years of experience helping clients develop their sourcing governance and service management design. Having worked with more than 50 organizations to improve business management and service management processes in both single-provider and multi-provider environments, Cynthia has become a recognized expert in sourcing governance, vendor and contract management. She currently serves as the architect for ISG’s service methodology and global integrator of its products and services. Cynthia works to leverage ISG’s accumulated intellectual property resources to help enterprises create effective transformation and governance capability, and maintains a continuing role in the Strategy and Organizational Change Enablement practice.