Out With 'Outsourcing' And In With 'Co-Sourcing'

The term better reflects one company's approach to building teams that combine his IT staff with that of his outsourcer.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

August 29, 2002

2 Min Read

Phil Zwieg, Northwestern Mutual's VP of IS, calls his company's relationship with Indian outsourcer InfoSys Technologies Ltd. "co-sourcing" rather than outsourcing. It better reflects the approach he's cultivating--building teams that combine IT staff from both companies. "We're totally focused toward operating that way," Zwieg says.

The insurance company uses InfoSys for what Zwieg calls "critical corrections," as well as project development. One just-completed project that took an estimated 100,000 hours moved all data entry for new policy applications to a new platform. While the sheer scope of the project makes it anything but typical, the staffing approach is fairly representative of how Northwestern Mutual and InfoSys work together.

Zwieg's ideal staffing mix would be about 70% of his own staff and 30% outsourced. The company is close to that goal: Its 750 IT employees work in tandem on many projects with 450 InfoSys employees, 30% of whom are in Northwestern's Milwaukee offices, with the rest in India at one of three InfoSys development centers.

One of the key team members is Samson David, account manager for InfoSys. His role is that of a relationship manager, a liaison between the client and the vendor. David hails from India, but these days he's calling Milwaukee home since he's needed on site to ensure that deliveries are on time and correct and that all the processes are going smoothly. After all, Northwestern is one of InfoSys' largest clients.

He must ensure that the work meets expectations. He also works on the intangibles of a relationship that involves bridging the cultures of the two countries.

David says a lot of the initial challenges have been met. "We have cross-cultural workshops in India that everyone has to take," he says. The InfoSys team working for Northwestern includes IT professionals from the United States, India, and South Africa. "The time-zone challenge is to coordinate the effort to be sure everything comes together as one," he says. "But it's part of what we do."

Return to "The Politics Of Outsourcing"

Illustration by James Kaczman

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