Your shout: work permits, outsourcing, BPO, IT in the boardroom

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Have your say at

Abuse of work permit system threatens UK IT

Abuse of the work permit system by companies that bring in IT workers from abroad (, 14 August) has been gathering pace for some time.

My company worked for a global consumer goods group for nine years, providing project managers, business analysts, developers, testers, helpdesk and other staff. We had an excellent relationship with the company, and we were always ultra competitive on rates.

Three years ago the consumer goods group started importing staff from India and we were no longer invited to bid for work or provide staff. The entire business stream dried up, with the group employing more than 100 Indian IT personnel in its City office and outsourcing the remainder of the work to India. Other clients have been doing the same thing.

Every business has the right to make profit and keep costs down, but if the government wants to retain a viable knowledge economy, it must prevent firms abusing the system. The Indian staff were not providing some niche specialism that could not be found in the UK. We could have provided equivalent skills with better teamworking and business understanding, but our costs would have been higher as an Indian IT worker can be hired to work in the City for a fraction of a UK worker's rates.

The industry needs to reverse the decline in use of our indigenous resource before we lose the ability to compete. We can do so by preventing abuses of the system for short-term benefits and shortsighted gains.

G A Simpson, managing director, European Project Consultants

Relationships are key to outsourcing success

Gartner warned recently that half of all businesses involved in business process outsourcing contracts would be hit by cost overruns and unacceptable levels of service over the next three years (Computer Weekly, 29 August).

While it is true that firms that fail to adopt the right approach to an outsourcing engagement will be liable to these cost and service problems, it should be noted that there are a number of logical, yet often overlooked considerations which, if addressed from the start, should prevent this grim fate.

The brief to the delivery team must be more precise than most businesses are used to giving, as successful outsourcing requires a high level of discipline. The brief must be focused on the results the business needs: if you don't know what you want, you don't know what you are going to get.

The key to a successful ongoing outsourcing deal is communication and trust. Once these are established you have a stable platform to grow from and can start to push the envelope of what is possible. Research sponsored by LogicaCMG found that good relationship management can create a "trust dividend" of 20% to 40% difference on service, quality, cost and other performance indicators.

In the future, expect an increased emphasis on the relationship aspects of outsourcing, hinged around more interaction and transparency between customer and supplier. A move away from "best price" deals towards "best value" deals will mean that Gartner's predictions are unnecessarily pessimistic.

Adrian Cole, LogicaCMG

New maturity will head off grim BPO predictions

The race for cheap labour rates is over and a new maturity is entering the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, despite Gartner's dire warnings (Computer Weekly, 29 August).

Outsourcing to destinations such as India has long been proven not to be a cure-all and it is clear that there is more to successful outsourcing than cost concerns.

The next three years are not likely to see the downfall of BPO, but rather the rise of a considered, mature approach to a combination of far and nearshoring, which assess the project's needs as well as geographic, time and cultural differences, and, of course, costs.

The hype is over. Long live the new maturity.

Graham Underwood, GFT

Boards need to see the business impact of IT

I agree with Steve Burrows' opinion that IT must be represented in the boardroom (Computer Weekly, 1 August), but it is not just the people that should have a presence, but the technology itself. It is too often referred to in low-level terminology, making it inaccessible to those who are not technologically minded.

Instead of looking at the tools being used and what they are being used for, businesses should be talking about IT in terms of what impact it has on the business.

Michael Jannery, Entuity

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