Listening is the key to outsourcing

Listening to clients is one of the toughest challenges for suppliers on major contracts, according to Hugh Morris, former global...

Listening to clients is one of the toughest challenges for suppliers on major contracts, according to Hugh Morris, former global managing partner for business process management at Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting).

During 10 years as an Accenture partner, including six working with the London Stock Exchange, Morris has found that communication is the hardest thing to get right on major contracts.

"It is tempting to hear what you want to hear and there are times when I have done that: heard words such as 'we want productivity improved' without knowing what productivity improvement really meant to the client," he said.

"On one contract we had thought there was a common lexicon, a common terminology between us and the client, but there wasn't. They saw productivity very differently from the way we at Andersen saw productivity.

"It is instances like this which show how hard this listening stuff is and how important it is to really be sure that you have listened, as opposed to thinking you have heard some words you have understood. I think that has been my biggest lesson."

Morris left Accenture in May to become a "company doctor" helping clients to avoid IT disasters.

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