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In Outsourcing, Trust Doesn't Just Happen by Itself

It may be a cliche to say that relationships are built on trust, but like all good cliches there is a reason for it's true. The key to a good relationship, any relationship, is to be able to trust one and other

It may be a cliche to say that relationships are built on trust, but like all good cliches there is a reason for it's true. The key to a good relationship, any relationship, is to be able to trust one and other. It is simply not okay if the other party turns out to be unreliable or even worse if the other party happens to be you.

Experience and research indicate that trust and successful outsourcing go together surprisingly often. That if you want success, you should strive to create mutual trust. But what is trust? Where does it come from? How do you build it and nurture it? Trust makes more things run more smoothly than they otherwise might, but is trust the driver or is it a by-product of things running smoothly.

Should you sit and wait until the other party takes care of something (just trust them to do it)? Or should you proactively set out to stimulate mutual trust? And if so, what exactly does that ask of both the client and the supplier? Is trust the chicken or the egg? And how do you build it?

This was the premise for what turned out to be a lively PON seminar, hosted by T-mobile division T-systems, on March 7, in which Bart van Reeken, a lawyer at De Brauw, Oscar Halfhide, a consultant at KPMG, and Frido Frencken, a sales manager at Schuberg Philis, explored the theme of Trust in Outsourcing.

According to Bart, trust was the result of meeting commitments and fulfilling expectations while being clear and transparent about those commitments. And if a commitment cannot be met, being clear about why and what you are going to do to rectify the situation and make sure it doesn't happen again. Bart likened it to a marriage, the commitments made, and the expectations felt by husband and wife. He concluded by stating that the only way to build and maintain trust is to personally take responsibility for the quality of the relationship. Ask yourself, on a regular basis, how you can help or support the other party.

In Oscar's view, the most important key to a successful outsourcing relationship lay in the balance between control and trust. Drawing on research findings, Oscar showed how companies that outsource and companies that provide outsourcing services look differently at the problems in their relationship and the consequences, even while both parties mostly agree about what is important in a relationship. Oscar explained that there are three levels of trust: Calculative-based Trust (I want to work with you), Knowledge-based Deepening Trust (I am getting to know you), and, finally, Identification- based and Socially Constitutive Bonding Trust (I like you).

Oscar said that most outsourcing relationships never move beyond level 1, where control dominates Casting an IT eye over the issue, Frido wrapped up the seminar with an enthusiastic story about trust in practice and how Schuberg Philis is working on this subject. The main goal is to make each other happy, now and in five years' time, and to do what you promise, Frido said. At Schuberg Philis where our motto is 100%, which is not the smallest promise you can't afford any missteps.Frido further pointed out that it is important to deepen and broaden a relationship and to try to improve things by building on what is good, rather than just firefighting problems. In this way, you are working with client satisfaction in mind rather than billable hours.” For more information and photos check the PON website and the  photo album.

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