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Thread: Outsourcing: The Answer That Lacks a Problem (an article and blog)

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2005

    Outsourcing: The Answer That Lacks a Problem (an article and blog)

    Okay - outsourcing for IT, good, bad or indifferent. The decision to outsource a function or functions within IT has been explained in many cases as a "Cost-savings" mechanism... OK. I have also heard it as being (this more so with off-shore outsourcing) "The IT people in [xxx] country are more educated, trained and harder working than their US counter-parts."... ok - maybe. However, when pressed for information for this, especially in my own company, the figures are not 1) readily available and 2) do not show a significant savings when compared to the costs involved and the risks the company is being exposed to by doing this. Outsourcing, even off-shore outsourcing can be a good thing for a company, when planned correctly and with a goal in mind, other than "to save money". However what I am seeing, and is confirmed by this article by CIO, is that it looks like companies are having a knee-jerk, or close to a knee-jerk reaction to a current 'fad' for IT. Trying to make IT like a commodity, without the appropriate planning and/or resource allocation, all just "to save money" - which again it does not look like it's really happening. Myopic planning leads to a myopic future.

    FYI: there is a blog after the article.

    Source: http://www.cio.com/blog_view.html?CID=6249

    May 20, 2005
    The Answer That Lacks A Problem
    MAY 20, 2005 06:40:23 AM View/Add Comments (12) | Permalink

    I have yet to find a more damning assessment of the strategic impact of IT outsourcing than this report from Deloitte. It says that the era of huge outsourcing deals is over and that the companies that have done these deals are retreating from them. The companies surveyed (25 Fortune 500 companies) still view cost savings as the primary benefit they expect from outsourcing (83 percent). Yet their experience seems to argue against the logic of this expectation.

    For example, 73 percent of those surveyed said they use multiple vendors to protect themselves from lock-in and high prices. Yet outsourcers derive their cost savings from economies of scale. Companies that spread the same work across multiple vendors reduce the potential savings. Moreover, having multiple providers increases the management time, money and manpower needed to manage the complexity of multiple contracts--62 percent said managing the vendors requires more management effort than originally thought and 57 percent said they could not free up internal resources to do other projects after outsourcing.

    For the sake of argument, letís say companies split up their work among multiple vendors discretely, with no overlap. Yet 100 percent of the respondents said that they tailor their deals with their vendors, meaning that the vendors have limited capability to lump the work in with other customers and achieve those economies of scale.

    Risk also seems to be a constant companion in these deals--mostly risk of the unknown. The survey said 57 percent of companies paid additional costs for things they thought were included in the contract and a vast majority said they had limited (48 percent) or no (33 percent) visibility into their vendorsí pricing and cost structure. This lack of understanding results in contract changes--64 percent of companies surveyed had brought some services back in house.

    Yet despite all this, 65 percent of respondents say they are saving money by outsourcing. Perhaps itís the offshoring effect: 23 percent of the companies surveyed were sending more than 50 percent of the work offshore while 38 percent were sending less than 50 percent.

    About half those surveyed said they thought CIOs could compete with outsourcers--48 percent agreed or partially agreed that few vendors (except infrastructure vendors) have economies of scale greater than their big customers.

    It seems that the big, kitchen-sink outsourcing deals are another example of poor relations between IT and the business. Unless the business is facing a sale or merger and needs to get costs off the books at all costs, the risks of outsourcing--at least as portrayed in this report--can smother cost savings. Deloitteís suggestions for reducing risk, which include focusing on commodity outsourcing or using outsourcers to reinvent a failing department or process, seem fraught with risk, too, given the tendency to customize the deals and the lack of visibility that companies have into vendorsí operations.

    With cost savings far from guaranteed, companies need to have other reasons for outsourcing. But they donít seem to bother coming up with them. The most telling question of all those in the survey was this: "Did you outsource a function in order to solve a specific problem?" Frighteningly, 83 percent said no. If the vendor isnít brought in to fix a problem--i.e. come up with a better way of doing things--companies are throwing away the opportunity to reduce risk and manage the vendor to real benefits (like cost reduction). Why is this critical factor seemingly absent from these contracts? Give me your thoughts.
    Thoughts? B&C (Bitches and Complaints)? Solutions?
    \"An ant may well destroy a whole dam.\" - Chinese Proverb
    \"Not only can water float a craft, it can sink it also.\" - Chinese Proverb


  2. #2
    Old ancient one vanman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Freestate,South Africa
    Outsourcing yeah(used too often these days I think to cover and blame other people accept themselves for flaws caused by themselfs, and someone has to get the blame, which ends up in job losses.)I have seen companies go through this and they go through name changes(costing millions of rands because everything from books to letterheads to packing material etc.. have to be changed , and get this..After doing some market research again!!!!!only to find that it is costing them millions because nobody recognizes the newly renamed product..and upon that had to change it all back again.But that is OK!!!!

    To top it all they hire contractors in the place of the retrenched people which eventually cost them a fortune in breakdowns related to misuse of machinery etc..

    I just think when a company is not doing well they should consult everyone down to ground level.Afterall those are the people who handles the day to day production, and I think who can give you a very good input as to where changes could be made with a minimal outsourcing , if needed.
    Practise what you preach.

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