5 Questions About an Outsourcing Partner Model
- Where should we embed outsourcing partners in the organization?
Outsourcing partners are long-term commitments, so it is important to give careful consideration to where you place them within your organization. We’ve seen multiple ways to embed business partners: in system-wide business units (e.g., environmental services across the system or the medical group), in specific geographic areas (e.g., individual facilities or regions), or across multiple functional units in an individual facility (e.g., clinical technology mgmt., plant operations, and environmental services at a single hospital). There is no one right way to do it. Start by determining which parts of your organization are underserved or are under-supported by existing resources.
- How do we ensure outsourcing partners have the right skills to serve as strategic partners?
Ideally, you’d have outsourcing partners with robust experience, health care operations experience, strong local and community ties, innovative programs, long-term commitment to product and service development, and a sustainable program at the lowest cost. But most organizations have to make trade-offs.So where do you start? From our experience the critical elements come down to balanced and fair compensation, financial and operational transparency, innovation, and focus on quality.Once you have the right organization selected, you should give your outsourcing partner the tools and support to help them efficiently and effectively meet your objectives.
- What should outsourcing partners prioritize?
At many organizations, outsourcing partners simply have too many priorities: day-to-day operational requirements, internal organization requirements (e.g., monthly profit budget, supporting their organizations sales processes, other Client requirements, internal systems), your strategic objectives (e.g., financial management, quality controls, performance improvement), and system-level priorities. Time is a scarce resource, helping define and guide priorities are critical to a successful partnership.Outsourcing partners can prioritize one of three aims: their client’s strategic objectives (e.g., improving unit patient satisfaction scores), system people objectives for their client (e.g., engagement and turnover), or a single strategic objective (e.g., workforce planning).While outsourcing partners are often doing a mix of these, they should be very clear about whether their ultimate focus is helping clients or helping the system. If they’re prioritizing system objectives, they will need to decline client requests that may not map to core system objectives.
- How do outsourcing partners collaborate with functional experts?
As health systems grow, outsourcing partners can’t rely on informal relationships with experts in functions such as human resources, supply management, information technology, and clinical services.Organizations have three primary options for hardwiring collaboration between outsourcing partners and functional experts: having a single operational leader over outsourcing partners and functional areas, having regular cross-functional team meetings, or aligning functional experts by specific client groups that match the outsourcing partners’ client assignments.
- How do you instill outsourcing partner accountability for advancing the organization’s goals?
Often, organizations default to assessing outsourcing partners on the strength of their relationships. To instill accountability for organizational goals (and help partners prioritize work), operational leaders should include outcomes-based goals in outsourcing partner performance evaluations. Utilizing a balanced scorecard, an organization can assess, monitor and course-correct performance, and align the outsourcing partner with key objectives. Having outsourcing partners report to a senior operational leader can also help outsourcing partners maintain a strategic perspective.
Download our customizable template to answer the five questions above and custom-fit the outsourcing partner model to your organization.