Transparency is a vital part of any business relationship between external resource vendors and their clients. But public disclosure of sourcing partnerships, where revelations are made about the context of vendor-client relationships, is still largely taboo in the global outsourcing industry.
Is this the right approach? Are vendors getting shafted because they are unable to brag about their great use cases, brilliantly designed mobile apps, and superstar customer service delivery experiences? Here are four takeaways to show why a new approach could be beneficial for all parties involved.
The Secretive Approach is a Major Drawback
In today’s political climate, where bringing jobs home seems to be the US government’s main objective, c-level executives have become paralyzed by the idea of discussing their outsourced IT and knowledge services arrangements.
It’s not just politics, of course. Companies want to retain their competitive edge and often assume that staying quiet will assure they retain the element of surprise. There are lots of other reasons why companies don’t make revelations about their activities in Nearshore and offshore environments, but most of the time the thinking is illogical and fear-driven.
About two years ago, the NBC television program “Saturday Night Live” released a mobile app that was developed by a US development firm with a Nearshore team in Costa Rica. The client (NBC) was hell-bent on keeping a lid on any public disclosure, and forced the client to remove a press release that had been issued about the project.
Certainly Costa Rica loses in such a scenario, as does the provider which, as you can see, did a great job building a highly creative and functional app. Meanwhile, NBC can rest well at night, knowing it doesn’t have to deal openly with an often sensitive topic.
Takeaway: Make sure to be in sync with your client about the details of disclosure throughout the course of the partnership.
People with Talent Want to See Your Work
Throughout the Nearshore market, talented young people yearn to be connected to new, exciting brands like Amazon, Google, YouTube, Uber, and AirBnB. Given the chance to work on projects driven by these companies opens up a whole new world of professional opportunity.
The savvy providers are aware of this scenario. That’s why some of them secure agreements that permit disclosure of some facts about the outsourcing relationship with the client. Don’t assume your client is not interested in getting some press coverage, or using social media to talk about key tips or lessons learned.
What’s important is to recognize that potential employees will sense when companies are being less than honest, or purposely hiding key details about the work they do, and for whom they do it with. That creates an obvious air of doubt which can clearly damage the interest of potential employees.
Takeaway: Work with your clients at the front-end to secure some measure of public disclosure as a means to attract talent.
Public Disclosure Creates a Positive Ripple Effect in the Ecosystem
It’s extremely valuable for vendors, employees, and local technology ecosystems when a large client company comes out and testifies to the value they are getting from working with xyz company in xyz location.
By broaching the subject of public disclosure at the front end of the client discussions, vendors who can secure a testimonial from the client will set off a ripple effect that will positively impact their entire ecosystem. As more clients come forward and explain the benefits they have received in working with you, an even greater amount of clients will start taking an interest in both your company and the local market.
Take-away: Recognition of your company is shaped by the perception of the location in which you’re based. Keep this in mind as you manage your public relations campaigns.
Other Potential Clients Will Begin to Take Notice
In the same way that a herd of sheep will follow the leader, clients want to hear about your success stories with other clients as it helps to build that initial trust. If you get clients to talk to each other in their own meetings, that’s even better, because they won’t feel pressured to “big you up” and instead will give honest feedback. If you’ve been a great partner, you have nothing to worry about.
This video client testimonial from Heartland Automotive Services & JiffyLube is a great example of how public clients can boost a brand and reputation, as well as giving themselves some free exposure. In it, the client explains the issues he faced with a lack of resources, and how his partner, Auxis, brought him value with a complete mindset change about IT. The video is professionally developed and includes an honest reaction that will give other clients a great idea of what it’s like to partner with them.
This is one example, but there are myriad ways in which the clients could speak out for you, whether at conferences, online webinars, face-to-face meetings, or any other approach. All of these provide unique exposure that will ultimately benefit both parties.
Take-away: Are you happy to be a follower, or is the ethos of your business based on being a market leader? Your answer will help to determine your journey in sharing the work you do more openly.
In the end, these suggestions are not a call for 100% transparency, but it’s important to prioritize the types of projects and achievements that deserve to be recognized. If vendors can make more references without actually mentioning client names, this will also put them in a better position than if they say nothing.
What results have you witnessed when practicing public disclosure? Let us know in the comments below.