Relationships are the key to secure outsourcing

For several months I’ve been researching the subject of security in outsourcing and off-shoring. I’ve read lots of books and papers, and interviewed experts from many related fields: procurement experts, legal advisers, programme directors and security managers. The one message that comes through consistently is the importance of the relationship. If you have a good relationship with your contractor you can overcome a bad contract. But the opposite is not true.

So I was impressed to hear Rachel Burnett, President of the BCS, confirm that point in an excellent presentation tonight at the Guildford BCS branch. Rachel is an expert on IT law and the author of an excellent book on outsourcing. We should heed her advice. Too often, contracts become zero sum games rather than the beautiful friendships that are needed to deliver secure, reliable services in a fast-changing business environment. As she correctly points out, IT contracts are not like construction contracts, where you can expect the specification to be implemented to everyone’s satisfaction. In practice, they tend to be a lot messier and highly volatile. People and relationships are the key to successful outsourcing.

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