TECHNOLOGY, OUTSOURCING, AND COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS
NEWS FOR LAWYERS AND SOURCING PROFESSIONALS

When we represent customers in outsourcing and managed services transactions, we spend a significant amount of time drafting the exhibits for transition, which is typically a major project in and of itself. In order to help clients think about the major components of transition, we often provide the following checklist of common workstreams to facilitate our discussion.

  1. Governance – Governance is an overarching workstream that spans all phases of transition. A key component is the formation of a transition management office that is responsible for managing the overall transition (including performance and risk management) and coordinating with the company’s governance organization.
  2. Planning – Detailed design and implementation planning is critical to ensuring timelines are integrated and met, with all dependencies considered. Plans typically include the responsibilities of each party, anticipated completion dates, and acceptance criteria.

Ed Hansen, Val Gross, and Morgan Richman will run a highly interactive two-part program, “How to Make Complex Contracts and Negotiations Work: Tips and Practices You Can Use Today,” at the Eastern Regional SIGnature Event. The program will guide attendees through complex contracting and collaborative negotiating, providing actionable strategies that can be used in real-world scenarios right away.

In the first session, the team will define and deconstruct "complex" contracts. Attendees will learn techniques to simplify contracts and will learn how to transform a "bad" contract into a user-friendly document that constituents will want to use. The second session will focus on hardcore collaborative negotiating techniques. Using a scenario-based approach, participants will learn the hard skills necessary for building a collaborative negotiating environment, including how to avoid barriers to collaboration, how to achieve alignment, and how to address FUD—fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

As a follow-up to our recent post on third-party contract due diligence in outsourcing deals, this post focuses on how customers in outsourcing deals handle the disposition of legacy third-party contracts—one of the thorniest and most work-intensive work streams—once diligence has concluded.

The due diligence review of existing third-party contracts is a critical component of any outsourcing deal. For the company that is outsourcing part of its business functions to a third party, reviewing existing third-party contracts for certain key terms is an important part of the outsourcing process. Organization, attention to detail, and diligence are keys to a successful third-party contract review process.

The terms that need to be reviewed will be based on the scope of the outsourcing agreement, e.g., will contracts be assigned, terminated, or made available for the outsourcing provider to use. Once the deal constructs are established, Excel can be a useful tool to guide the review of the third-party contracts, by allowing the reviewer to insert the applicable language from each contract into the appropriate row or column. The Excel chart will become a reference guide for the key provisions and provide an overview and comparison between the third-party contracts.

Complexity in sourcing transactions relates to the interdependence between the parties executing a program. However, “complexity” can be a surprisingly nuanced concept whose meaning can vary under different circumstances. Here are a couple of these nuances.

What Is Complexity?

If you are buying a physical product, the transaction is not truly “complex” if it can be described completely in the contract, although the product itself may be complicated. For example, a rocket ship is a complicated product, but with specifications that can (and probably should) be described in perfect detail, there is no requirement for an overly complicated contract structure, and the relationship between the parties may not be complex. Contrast this with an engagement that involves business process redesign accompanied by software development and implementation like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation, or a large-scale robotic process automation (RPA) initiative. Although the contract can specify the desired result, in many cases the results will depend on both parties working together to realize that result. This interdependency makes the relationship complex and requires a more nuanced procurement and contracting process.

Even with the standard independent contractor provision in a Master Services Agreement, when employees of the contractor work at a client's site, there can be a heightened risk for joint employment liability, especially where such employees were hired by the contractor as part of an outsourcing arrangement. The US Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update its interpretation of the standard for establishing joint-employer liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The proposal is “designed to promote certainty for employers and employees, reduce litigation, promote greater uniformity among court decisions, and encourage innovation in the economy” by making clear employers’ and joint employers’ respective obligations to pay the appropriate employee wages and overtime for a workweek.

The audit section in a services agreement contains the provisions that specify a party’s right to access and review another party’s information in order to determine such party’s compliance with the agreement. Depending on the scope of audit rights, the audit section can range from a single paragraph to an entire exhibit to the contract.

Many considerations go into drafting appropriate audit rights, including the types of services that the customer is receiving, and the industry in which the customer’s business operates. In many cases, the customer is the auditing party and the service provider is the audited party, but there are situations where the roles will be reversed. Below is an overview of several key issues to consider when drafting audit rights for services agreements.

Forbes has listed its top outsourcing trends in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region for 2019. The APAC region has long been the dominant region for outsourcing, although it is facing competition from emerging outsourcing markets in other regions. Trends include the growing presence of outsourcing in Malaysia, shifting resource models, and personnel shortages.

Outsourcing agreements are typically long-term arrangements and the functions outsourced, whether IT or business processes, often key to the continued operation of the customer’s business. It is therefore important that both the customer and the supplier undertake due diligence prior to entering into such arrangements to ensure that, for example, both parties are clear as to the customer’s service requirements and objectives and how these will be met by the supplier.

In this post, we look at due diligence from the perspective of both the customer and the supplier.

In business process outsourcing (BPO) transactions, some of the toughest negotiation points often involve responsibility for compliance with applicable laws and regulations. If you have negotiated BPO transactions, you know that there is not an industry position that can be applied across the board on all deals. We find key determiners as to how responsibility is allocated to include the type and size of the transaction, whether the service is a “utility” or one to many model, the intended scope of the service offering, impact to fees (if any), vendor capabilities, and negotiating leverage.