Getting the Most Out of Your Transition


Successfully transitioning services from an in-house team to a managed services provider or from an existing service provider to a new provider is much more than simply handing work from one group to another. To gain the true value of sourcing, enterprises must think more broadly. They must take a comprehensive approach that addresses the transition on two dimensions: operations and behavior.  

When preparing to transition services, most companies think only of the impact to operations and the knowledge transfer required for the provider to take full responsibility for the services. But managing behavioral change is an integral part of sustainable success. A well-executed transition requires two key components:

  • Operational Transition – Plans and controls that determine who owns what in the new operating environment and that manage the movement of work and associated customer readiness to take on the new agreement and scope
  • Behavioral Change – Operating processes that align new roles and responsibilities with new skill and competency requirements.

In essence, transitions are about making sure people are prepared to work in new ways in a new operating model with a new provider. It’s been proven time and again that “transition confusion” increases resistance and erodes the expected financial and service benefits of the new model.

The goal is to prepare the customer and the provider to act as one team with a shared view and strategy to support the business. Another key to success, is instilling “combined team spirit” early in the provider selection phase of the project – well before contract negotiations. Sustainable relationships between customer and providers do not happen by accident; they are the result of a series of conscious actions. The figure below depicts five work streams that together make up a comprehensive approach to behavioral and operational change for a sourcing transition.


Here are four ways a successful transition will address changes in behavior in concert with operations execution:

1. Integrate the “people side of change” into transition strategy and planning. Back up your strategy and business rationale with plans that address both operational readiness and critical human and behavioral factors. Conduct a transition-readiness study of key stakeholders to help determine how prepared you are and identify the challenges that lie ahead.

Define clear responsibilities and control points for both internal and provider teams and define how those teams will perform activities. Once a week, score progress against the transition plan to gauge whether the provider is ready to enter the next phase and whether your organization is making headway on its readiness and communication activities. Review transition issues and risks to make sure both parties are prioritizing the right tasks. Be sure to ask these questions:



What should our plan look like to transition functions, knowledge, tools, projects and processes to our new provider?

How do I prepare our people for the change, the new behaviors needed and the opportunity it represents for our company’s strategy?

Treat transition as a mutual endeavor and hold both parties accountable for success. While providers have robust transition methods, they are focused only on the operational transition. Companies that relinquish transition leadership grant unbalanced leverage to the provider. Instead, keep in mind that implementing a sourcing strategy means there will be new roles and processes, and your team will need to become proficient in new skills. Ask these questions:



Do I have a comprehensive plan that reflects both provider and customer activities, the right Transition Management Office (TMO) structure and a rigorous governance cadence to manage transition?

How do I best communicate the importance of the change to help shift behaviors and attitudes? How should I get my team ready to oversee service delivery and manage the relationship for the long haul?


3. Communicate what the changes mean and what your expectations are for your organization, its individual teams and your business customers. Key leaders should be able to articulate the sourcing strategy and business case in a way that relates directly to teams and individual employees. Equip them so they can help build employee awareness, acceptance and commitment. Spend time making sure the team understands the provider contract and is educated on the keys to success with managed services, including how to best work with the offshore provider team. Consistent communication helps team members navigate smoothly through the transition and prepares them to thrive in the new operating model. Without it, teams will draw their own conclusions about the impact of the change. Make sure you can answer these questions:



How do we get the team up to speed on the new provider agreement and what’s expected of them during knowledge transfer and post transition to the provider?

How can I create relevant communications that build understanding and buy-in and equip leaders to answer employee and customer questions about the transition?


4. Carry the operational and behavioral focus throughout the transition phases.

Transition management must incorporate stakeholder communications, risk management and status of the operational work moving to the provider. Track and report knowledge acquisition with carefully defined and measurable quality gates to confirm progress and build confidence in the new provider. These gates should include measures for the behavioral elements of the transition, including communications.  

Companies that develop a detailed understanding of how they will work together day to day post-transition with provider organizations have a much higher rate of success. All stakeholders must understand their responsibilities and all relevant touch points. Lack of clarity in even small ways can affect how the parties interact and their sense of being able to deliver services as one team. Facilitate collaborative sessions that focus on key operating processes that require a high degree of interaction and what it means to come together as a single team. Openly address gaps, concerns and risks. When surfaced early, these conversations can make all the difference. Here are the questions to ask:



What is the best way to align with the provider on how key operating processes will work going forward?

How do I reinforce new ways of working with the team and assure people are equipped and ready for the new managed services operating model?


When you think about your plans for a successful sourcing transition, make certain you are addressing both the operational and behavioral change requirements. Your people are key to your success and the relationships you build along the way with your provider(s) will translate into a successful steady-state relationship and realization of your business case.

ISG helps enterprises achieve operational excellence with careful attention to the “people side of change,” whether they are sourcing for the first time or the “nth” time. With our proven transition processes and procedures and key components of the ISG FutureSource™ methodology, companies and their providers can improve results, meet or exceed customer expectations and deliver business requirements with ever-increasing speed. Contact us to discuss how we can help you make the most of your transition.