* Get organizational buy-in to the outsourcing relationship. "Aside from cultural and skill differences, aspects such as internal communication structures, internal resistance and cultural sensitization may need to be adequately addressed" prior to commencing an outsourced relationship, according to a report from neoIT Inc., a global outsourcing consulting firm based in San Ramon, Calif.* Clearly lay down the rules and responsibilities of the relationship. Both parties need to know what is expected of them. A study of major outsourcing deals conducted by Deloitte Consulting LLP, New York, finds that over-expectations on the part of the outsource customer is the single greatest reason for breakdowns in outsourcing engagements.

* Treat the outsourcing provider as a partner. "The most effective relations do not have the procurement-driven attitude of, 'we've got a contract, we do a contract, you hit these marks and if you don't, we beat you over the head,'" says David Gordon, director of the outsourcing advisory practice for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, New York. "Successful relationships are much more partnership relationships."

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