Driving Impact through Collaboration in Global In-house Centers: Myths and Realities | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Originally posted on NASSCOM

Dilbert collaboration

The comic strip to a large extent reflects the current thinking on what “Collaboration” really means. There is a tendency to confuse collaboration with normal, day-to-day liaisoning for the purposes of service delivery. We define collaboration as a “way of working together through the formal/informal means to achieve common goals, often beyond ongoing service delivery mandates.” There is a higher emphasis on achieving goals beyond the “normal call of duty.”

Now that we have defined collaboration, let us look at the various entities in the ecosystem with which Global In-house Centers, or GICs, (formerly called Captives) are collaborating today. The GIC ecosystem comprises of parent stakeholders, vendors to the parent, other GICs within the same organization and GICs outside of the organization. We will focus this blog on demystifying  some common myths regarding collaboration between GICs and these entities.

Myth #1: Collaboration with the parent is likely to remain the sole priority for GICs; collaboration with other ecosystem entities is not important

Most GICs primarily focus on strengthening collaboration with their parent organizations. This form of collaboration comes naturally to GICs as the interaction and engagement with parent stakeholders is significant. Further, the impact of collaboration on achieving organizational objectives is quite visible.

While GIC-parent collaboration is and will continue to remain top priority for GICs, collaboration with the broader ecosystem is becoming increasingly important. Collaboration with other entities, such as vendors, other GICs (within the company) can also drive meaningful organization-wide impact. Best practices, ideas and knowledge (residing within GICs or other ecosystem entities) can be shared and collectively used to create value for parent. GICs must leverage their vantage positions as extensions of the parent to drive ecosystem-wide collaboration agendas.

Myth #2: Collaboration with other ecosystem entities will lead to loss of competitive advantage

This risk of losing competitive advantage is more a perceived risk rather than a reality. This perceived risk impacts multiple types of collaboration, especially with vendors and with GICs across companies. However, some GICs have overcome this risk by putting in place collaboration models to successfully reap the benefits of collaboration. Examples of these models are:

  • Service-delivery collaboration: GICs and vendors collaborate on service delivery to achieve common objectives for the parent
  • Competence-based collaboration: GICs within the same company have designated leadership roles for specific functional or technical  competencies (e.g., centers of excellence), which form the basis for collaboration among GICs
  • Issue-based collaboration: GICs across companies collaborate on common issues (e.g., talent development, regulatory) that impact the industry

Myth #3: Collaboration can be enabled primarily through formal mandates from the parent and GICs can do little to drive it on their own

While formal mandates can help initiate collaboration, it is just a “starter.” GICs need to adopt a more proactive approach towards collaboration to reap full benefits. Mature GICs are using informal modes of collaboration with great efficacy to meet their organizations objectives. Instead of waiting for the mandate, GICs need to emerge as collaboration “champions.” The collaboration journey of GICs can be classified into three stages:

  1. Participate: GICs adopt a largely reactive approach to collaboration, as a consequence of parent-driven mandates
  2. Influence:  GICs proactively start to enable collaboration but within a limited sphere of influence
  3. Champion: Collaboration is a strategic-priority for GICs and GICs initiate large global collaboration initiatives across the ecosystem

In summary, to pursue the collaboration journey successfully, GICs need to pursue three action items:

  1. Extent focus of collaboration to a broader ecosystem beyond parent to capture full potential
  2. Align talent/leadership model and goals to ensure successful collaboration
  3. Intentionally challenge the perceived risk of losing competitive advantage and convert this into opportunities

Download the complimentary report, Driving Impact through Collaboration: Collaboration in the GIC-Parent, GIC-Vendor, and GIC-GIC Ecosystem.

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