pliXos (www.plixos.com/en) is further expanding its technology base for sourcing lifecycle management. A key part of this expansion is the new "(Out-)Sourcing Relationship Tracker - ORT" project, which will be carried out in close collaboration with the Department of Information Systems and Services at the University of Bamberg. The first steps towards this management tool which supports the ongoing observation and control of the social components of sourcing relationships have already been successfully completed. As part of the (Out-)Sourcing Relationship Tracker, new measurement methods based on social network analysis will be implemented.
What are the objectives?
The overall goal of this project is to create a scientifically grounded, multi-dimensional instrument for measuring relationship quality. Today, the monitoring of sourcing arrangements does often only focus on the “hard facts” (cost, timelines etc.) while considering the social dynamics is nearly always neglected. But, poor communication quality, lacking openness or insufficient information transfer often cause serious problems, in the long run, and thus should be used as early warning indicators for deteriorating sourcing performance. The (Out-)Sourcing Relationship Tracker will collect data from the interaction between vendor and client staff and thus allow for a transparent and holistic monitoring of the sourcing relationship over time, both for single sourcing arrangements and overall multi-sourcing portfolios. Building on thoroughly conducted scientific analyses the new system will complement pliXos´ Global Sourcing Platform.
Two specific features make the Sourcing Relationship Tracker different from existing solutions:
- The focus of monitoring is shifted from the relatively easily measurable and accessible, technically oriented performance indicators, such as service quality, to the essential characteristics of good relationship quality, like, e.g., trust, mutual understanding and communication quality. In addition, key drivers of relationship quality like knowledge transfer mechanisms will be assessed. Following this approach is expected to solve the well-known problem of "everything is green but we are still dissatisfied".
- A minimum of time-consuming user surveys: Until now, data for measuring soft aspects of relationship quality had to be collected via online or offline polls from the involved staff and managers at client- and vendor-side. The (Out-)Sourcing Relationship Tracker will come with collector modules that enable relationship quality monitoring using, e.g., social network analysis and sentiment analysis, thus minimizing the need for user surveys. Ultimately, a well-defined mix of different measurement tools is set to comprehensively examine and present all relevant dimensions of relationship quality.
Status of the research project
As of today, the objectives and work packages for the remainder of the project have been defined in detail. Furthermore, based on many years of academic outsourcing research a comprehensive model of the potential dimensions and indicators of relationship quality and its drivers has been developed. Current solutions from industry were examined to identify the extent to which these approaches include relationship quality. It was found that existing industry solutions rather focus on performance indicators than on the underlying relationship quality where problems might become apparent much earlier. Next, the project, will define the optimal cockpit for tracking relationship quality. Subsequently, specific measurement instruments will be developed, and finally tested and evaluated with selected pilot partners.
pliXos sees itself as a provider of solutions for the optimization of globally distributed software services. Significant cost and time advantages are implemented by using these solutions based on best-practices processes. Offers of pliXos are "tool-assisted" evaluation and analysis of global sourcing projects, the optimized control of such projects as well as consulting and the assumption of overall responsibility for individual projects. pliXos was founded in April 2009. Participants include the high-tech start-up funds, Bayern Kapital and a Bavarian entrepreneur (private investor).
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