Project Management

Devaluing Knowledge

Andy Jordan is President of Roffensian Consulting S.A., a Roatan, Honduras-based management consulting firm with a comprehensive project management practice. Andy always appreciates feedback and discussion on the issues raised in his articles and can be reached at [email protected] Andy's new book Risk Management for Project Driven Organizations is now available.

Outsourcing is a vitally important element of modern business, and in many ways project management is ideally suited for outsourcing given the temporary and often specialized nature of project work. (Heck, I make a living from organizations that choose to bring in outside help for some of their projects, so I have to believe in it!)

However, much as I believe outsourcing is a tremendously important tool for organizations, I also think most organizations fail to consider a crucial element. Specifically, I am concerned that organizations who outsource often allow valuable knowledge to leave at the end of the outsourcing relationship, hurting their ability to deliver in the future.

Outsourcing decisions tend to be fairly short term—there is an immediate need that the organization doesn’t have the resources and/or skills to deliver, so it needs some assistance from outside. That may be a full outsource to a vendor, the hiring of temporary contractors or something in between, but it’s still a form of outsourcing.

The issue is that to meet those short-term needs, organizations may be sacrificing their long-term needs—they are undermining the skills and knowledge available to them in the future by having expertise leave the organization at the end of the contract.…

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