Do You Really Know Who is Doing Your Work?

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We all know the story of Bob, the Verizon employee who outsourced his programming work to China. After a couple of years, he got caught when security questioned why he was Virtual Proess Networking from China. Bob shipped his token to a programmer in China and paid him less than one-third of his salary. Meanwhile, Bob was relaxing in a cubicle, getting great reviews and regular raises for his programming prowess.  
 
I have now met three people who told me they outsource their work. So, do you really know whose finger prints are actually on the keyboard? About six years ago when crowdsourcing was in its early days, I wanted to see what it was like from the employee side of crowdsourcing, so I signed up to be a crowd sourced person. No one questioned me about my application, about why a CEO wanted to make an extra $20 an hour in her spare time. After a few hours of doing task work, I handed my computer to my 13-year old son and asked him to try it. Of course, he caught on in no time and was able to produce work tasks. No one questioned that my work style had changed slightly. The company who hired me is one of the largest corporations in the world, and they never knew that this task was being performed by child labor. Being the ethical person that I am, I didn’t let this charade last long. I resigned in under two weeks… although my son begged me not to. I did it to test the system for my own curiosity and to understand the crowd sourcing model better.  
 
At our recent Midwestern Regional SIGnature Event, in the Executive Roundtable portion of the day, I got into a conversation with a group of CPOs about remote employees. Being in an extremely tight job market, and with there being a huge shortage of talent, they talked about having remote employees and said they thought their organizations would have a good grasp if someone wasn’t doing their own work. When I told them about Bob, who lived and breathed in a cubicle inside of an office, next to co-workers, they suddenly doubted themselves. A CPO shared that they ran Sapience software on their outsourced workers to monitor how much work was being done by FTEs, and they noticed a drastic uptick in the amount of work being completed. They were able to eliminate a lot of wasted time in meetings and saw productivity going up. With “bring your own device” adoption by many companies, or people having two telephones, how do you know if they are working, or watching cat videos, or playing solitaire?  
 
I don’t question the fact that a small percentage of people might consider slacking or outsourcing their work, but do we really know? My entire company went virtual this past January and while our company is much smaller than our member organizations, I feel that I would know if someone wasn’t performing up to standards – especially when I have worked with most of my employees on site for years. Do you know if children are doing your piece work? Or if an entire family is trained to do hourly work under one person’s profile? 
 
It’s not a question I expect to ever get fully answered. Do you truly know who is doing your company’s work? I welcome comments on this subject and would love to meet someone in sourcing that has outsourced their own job to better understand the topic. Feel free to reach out to me to tell your story (I PROMISE not to tell on you).
 
Dawn Tiura, President and CEO

Dawn Tiura is the CEO and President of SIG, SIG University and Future of Sourcing and has over 26 years' leadership experience, with the past 22 years focused on the sourcing and outsourcing industry. In 2007, Dawn joined SIG as CEO, but has been active in SIG as a speaker and trusted advisor since 1999, bringing the latest developments in sourcing and outsourcing to SIG members. Prior to joining SIG, Dawn held leadership positions as CEO of Denali Group and before that as a partner in a CPA firm. Dawn is actively involved on a number of boards promoting civic, health and children's issues in the Jacksonville, Florida area. Dawn is a licensed CPA and has a BA from the University of Michigan and an MS in taxation from Golden Gate University. Dawn brings to SIG a culture of brainstorming and internal innovation.