Joy (cithra) wrote,

I'm getting quite tired of being told that the outsourcing of various types of work is "inevitable" or the natural business result of organizations striving to become more efficient. It is neither.

The first excuse is a cop-out, designed to remove responsibility from the shoulders of those making and profiting from the decisions. There are other factors to be considered beyond the mythical, magical "bottom line" - there are human costs to the process that are more difficult to make pretty pie charts about. But it's the second excuse that I find the most mind-boggling.

Outsourcing only makes organizations more efficient on paper. In reality, it lengthens response time, introduces more opportunities for mistakes and misunderstandings, erases the connection between the work and its context, and treats human employees like interchangeable mechanical spare parts.

In case you think I'm making this up out of prognosticatory whole cloth, let me reassure you. The situation at work regarding HR/personnel work over the last ten years has been a microcosmic example of the outsourcing process. Things that were done locally have been centralized and removed from their original context to 'Transactional Processing Centers' at various locations. The net result is that something which used to take a day or so at most now takes on the order of six to eight weeks.

Worse yet is how the error-correction feedback loop is essentially broken. The people who make mistakes - anything from typos to mis-catagorization of files - are not the people you end up talking to when you try to correct something, and odds are those who made the error will never even hear about the problem. So if it isn't just a mechanical error like a typo, it is likely the originator will keep making the same mistake.

And woe be unto you if you have any kind of special situation. Anyone you talk to has been trained to respond from a script - if they actually know anything about the type of situation causing the difficulty, it's probably an accident or they're unusually curious and have picked up some contextual information by dint of exposure over time. If your problem doesn't fit neatly into the little flowchart boxes they've been provided, good luck making your needs understood. There hasn't been any training given in actual personnel processes... so you can't even successfully explain things, sometimes.

That doesn't begin to address problems of remote management, accountability, and distance from consequences. "Cases" are completely divorced from human context - there is no acknowledgement that if a mistake is made, or even just a delay is introduced, you're liable to be messing up somebody's life. It's just a pile of paperwork - who cares if someone can't afford their medication because the insurance papers got messed up, or someone mistyped the codes in the computer? You're in Memphis, they're in San Diego, it's no skin off your nose.

Tch, I could go on. I wish I had a solution, other than don't. Am I the only one who looks at the situation and sees greed, for the most part? The factory farm comes to white-collar-land...

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