There are fundamental advantages to a sponsor obtaining outsourcing and/or insourcing support through partnering with a strategic resourcing vendor. With an outsourcing arrangement, an outside partner completes the required activities offsite (typically at the vendor’s location), using its own Resources , including systems and personnel. A sponsor benefits from an outsourcing approach by utilizing the partner’s capabilities and resources to fulfill project objectives, therefore minimizing time and resource expenditures. By allowing a strategic resourcing partner to take on specific project tasks on behalf of the sponsor, the sponsor will not need to allocate internal resources, resulting in a streamlined and more efficient process.
Alternatively, a sponsor may select to use a strategic resourcing partner for insourcing support. Insourcing provides supplemental, non-biased assistance to a sponsor either by deploying resources to perform project work at the sponsor’s location or by allowing strategic partners to complete tasks by remotely accessing the sponsor’s internal systems. Each facet of insourcing can be advantageous to the sponsor. When work is conducted remotely using the sponsor’s systems, overall travel costs and expenses are reduced, and when vendor partners do provide internal support at the sponsor’s facilities, subject matter experts from the partner are readily accessible to the sponsor in-house. Similarly, a sponsor may also choose a hybrid approach that incorporates aspects of both outsourcing and insourcing activities.
Upon gaining an understanding of the fundamental advantages and benefits that both outsourcing and insourcing offer, a sponsor should next evaluate whether the involvement of a strategic resourcing partner will enable it to meet its project and submission objectives. To do this, the sponsor should look internally to determine their needs on both a project and organizational level. While many strategic resourcing partners offer a suite of solutions, a sponsor should first postulate and then prioritize both immediate and long-term objectives and goals in order to narrow down which solutions are the best fit. This will allow the sponsor to acutely target the type of support it needs from a partner and set baseline expectations prior to engagement. The sponsor’s needs clearly set the level of support needed from a vendor and set the tone for the overall relationship.
When assessing their internal needs, sponsors should consider a variety of factors. Specific areas of consideration include a review of the workload and activities that require additional support outside the scope of the organization’s internal resources. Similarly, sponsors should also evaluate those activities that are executed internally but are inefficient or costly. For many growing organizations, current infrastructure may not be conducive to keeping up with industry trends and submission or project deadline requirements. Though sponsors may have aspects of the necessary tools and/or processes in place, these capabilities may be unable to fulfill tasks within the project scope, therefore impeding overall progression. Many strategic resourcing vendors specialize in process optimization and offer technology solutions that reduce overall duration and possible rework.
Another area that a sponsor should evaluate when considering the use of a partner is potential staff augmentation. For many organizations, the need for additional resources to complete project work, and for individuals who hold specific skill sets, are opportunities to engage vendor support, especially when the sponsor is unable to gain internal approval to boost headcount. Strategic resourcing partners that provide outsourcing and insourcing support can also offer skilled staff resources along critical high-volume stages of the project.
Once the decision is made by the sponsor to involve a strategic resourcing partner, there are best practices to follow that enable the successful navigation of vendor/partner relationships. Primarily, it is very important for the sponsor and the vendor to develop a true partnership rather than simply a transactional affiliation. Working together to develop a solid relationship can lead to a mutually beneficial, lasting partnership over time. A successful partnership is rooted in open communication, fostering a constant dialogue from the onset of the relationship. Communication promotes the collaborative process and facilitates positive outcomes. As a best practice, a sponsor should designate a main point of contact to work with a primary vendor point of contact. Though these individuals do not need to share a similar skill set, they should have commonalities and mutual interest in meeting submission or project objectives.
Following the initial engagement with the primary vendor point of contact, a sponsor should then work with this individual to devise a strategic approach to the submission process. Most importantly, the sponsor should clearly outline the scope of the project, as well as its expectations of the strategic resourcing partner. The sponsor should carefully review the specific services and capabilities that the partner is proposing, as well as the submission standards upheld by the vendor to ensure that they align with the sponsor’s project goals. Prior to the start of work, the vendor and sponsor contacts should validate that all required signed contracts and agreements are in place.
Qualities & Characteristics of a Positive Partnership
- Mutually-beneficial Partnership
- Open Communication
- Knowledge Sharing
- Effective Problem Solving
- Collaborative Content Planning
Though open communication between vendor partners and sponsors is integral in the overall success of a project, problems can and do arise. A vendor’s ability to manage problems fully and expeditiously is imperative in evaluating its effectiveness as a partner. At the start of the project, sponsor and vendor should institute an issue resolution plan in the event of an unforeseen problem. Taking the time to strategize how potential issues will be addressed is necessary in order to alleviate “pain points” in the process. This level of preparedness and strategy will fortify the ongoing relationship between both parties and mitigate confusion, should an issue arise.
In addition to establishing a solid communication base, mapping timelines and developing issue resolution strategies with a vendor partner, another crucial component to developing a strong relationship with a strategic resourcing vendor is leveraging one another’s knowledge and experiences. Though this may not be a formal action item in the vendor/sponsor arrangement, it is incredibly important when building a successful relationship. Both sponsors and vendors have significant areas of expertise, and by sharing this knowledge with one another, gaps can be seamlessly bridged. For example, since the sponsor is proficient in the nuances of a particular project, it is privy to significant details that a vendor may be unfamiliar with. The vendor may rely on the sponsor’s expertise in order to facilitate certain aspects of the project where there may be outstanding questions.
A strategic resourcing partner typically has vast experience with both outsourcing and insourcing best practices, and can share these lessons with sponsors throughout the duration of the project. An example of this is when vendors have a holistic view of the project, since they have experience working on projects at various stages in the submission process. A partner generally has an understanding of the necessary steps a sponsor should follow to bring the project (or submission) to timely and successful completion. This expertise can be shared with sponsors in an effort to look forward in the process and identify critical project milestones. While a sponsor may be immersed in the scope of the current task, vendor partners are able to work alongside sponsors to ensure that they are prepared for the tasks and potential challenges ahead of them beyond the current project. Often, vendors can also provide the tools, processes and know-how to efficiently address these “next steps” and partner with the sponsor on a continual basis. When determining an ideal strategic resourcing partnership, sponsors should not only assess the vendors’ fit for the current project, but their ability to support future needs as well.
Another significant capability that strategic resourcing partners can provide to sponsors is centered on technology. Technology expertise, tools and services can be an essential differentiator in the submission process. The right technology can maximize efficiency and reduce costly rework from a sponsor perspective. Vendors that offer technology-enabled platforms and have a keen knowledge of the submission management process can simplify the sponsor’s process and meet or exceed deliverable expectations. Sponsors should inquire as to the processes that will be fortified by the use of technology, and how the sponsor will work in conjunction with both the vendor and their technology. They should also gain an understanding of how their internal points of contact will interface with the vendor equivalent through the use of technology as part of the process in order to create a collaborative environment.
It is also important for the sponsor to identify the level of technology-assisted support needed from its perspective. This is demonstrated by some strategic resourcing partners using technology solutions to manage and control each aspect of the submission compilation process. Such solutions are advantageous, in that they reduce the amount of back-and-forth to acquire and submit information, and create a universal portal for both the sponsor and vendor to review project tasks and work items, clearly outlining deliverables.
Finally, when evaluating a strategic resourcing partner’s process, a sponsor should confirm that thorough quality control measures are in place. Through the sponsor assessment of a vendor’s levels of review, these internal quality control steps can offer assurances that the project work will be vigorously reviewed prior to the final deliverable stage. This will establish levels of trust and reinforce the sponsor-partner working relationship.
Through navigating outsourcing and insourcing trends by carefully evaluating strategic resourcing partner options and assessing internal goals and needs, a sponsor is able to make an educated decision when selecting a vendor partner. Similarly, a sponsor can utilize best practices to develop a successful and lasting relationship with their strategic resourcing partner. Critical best practices include aligning with a vendor that is a strategic and cultural fit, developing detailed plans and milestones, outlining a clear problem-solving strategy, benefiting from knowledge sharing and maintaining open networks of communication. After all, a positive partnership can lead to a lasting and mutually beneficial vendor/sponsor relationship beyond the scope of the current engagement.
Janel Demeter is manager, Regulatory Operations at Octagon Research Solutions. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.