Project Management

Who's On First: How to Mitigate Challenges in Outsourcing Projects

Michelle Stronach has over 20 years of experience in the project management field, with experience creating successful PMOs and implementing project, portfolio management and IT governance frameworks. Michelle truly appreciates the value of feedback and welcomes comments on her articles. https://twitter.com/mlstronach

Outsourcing can be an opportunity or even a necessity for projects to bring in needed resource capacity, skill, authoritative knowledge or expertise that the organization lacks. But outsourcing is also prone to project management role confusion and accountability challenges that, if not managed carefully--just like Abbott and Costello's famous "Who's on First" routine--your project script can spin off the tracks in a hurry, a problem for both client and vendor.

If your project involves external resources in any capacity, then you are dealing with one or more outsourcing arrangements. This article gives some strategies for mitigating common obstacles for managing outsourced projects.

Abbott: Let's see, we have on the bags, Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third…
Costello: That’s what I want to find out.
Abbott: I say Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know's on third.
Costello: Are you the manager?

It is simple math, really. Bring together two or more teams from different organizations and sooner or later there will be misunderstanding. It is inevitable because the Client Team will come to the table with certain expectations and ways of doing things, while the Outsourced Team will come with their interpretation of client expectations, language, corporate culture and …


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"I'll do the stupid thing first and then you shy people follow..."

- Frank Zappa

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