Martyn Hart, chairman of the National Outsourcing
Association, points out that despite a bad press,
offshore outsourcing business processes has benefits
for many parties other than the organisation making
When the NOA’s board of
directors released their outsourcing predictions
for 2007, it was widely felt that Business Process
Outsourcing (BPO) was going to rapidly catch up
with Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO).
All the evidence of deals done in 2007 suggests
that this trend is coming to fruition – and
the print and document management industry is one
that will be affected by BPO.
The outsourcing and offshoring of document
management and printing is not a new discipline,
but one that will benefit from the increased
understanding and proliferation of BPO. Firms
are now more comfortable than ever to outsource
non-core processes, and this is a position
of strength for this industry. However, questions
remain about the difference between outsourcing
and offshoring, as well as the pros and cons
of outsourcing and offshoring.
Clearing the confusion that fogs the outsourcing
market is probably the first step. Outsourcing,
by definition, refers to a process where an
end user engages the services of an outsourcing
supplier to conduct one or more of its business
This could be anything from marketing
to printing. Outsourcing has been part of the
business landscape for as long as business
has been conducted, as companies have always
formed partnerships with other companies.
“There has been a mix of successes
and disasters, but as time passes firms learn
from their mistakes and move forward with
increased knowledge and constant improvements
being made to conduct and standards within
Offshore outsourcing, or offshoring, is the
headline grabbing process. Images of Indian
call centres and British dole queues abound,
as trade unions and protectionist politicians
warn of the dire consequences of job slippage
to the sub continent. But are these horror
stories hype or the real picture?
For the last few years, outsourcing, and offshoring
in particular, have started to mature and become
a more widely accepted and recognised business practice.
There has been a mix of successes and disasters,
but as time passes firms learn from their mistakes
and move forward with increased knowledge and constant
improvements being made to conduct and standards
within offshoring. As offshore outsourcing becomes
more widely recognised and more popular, a wider
array of companies are considering offshore outsourcing
as an option.
Offshore outsourcing is not suitable for every company
though and careful consideration needs to be taken
before any decision is made. Some organisations are
just not suitable for offshore outsourcing; aspects
such as staffing and company culture may pose such
a big obstacle that offshore outsourcing may cause
more harm than good. So firstly you need to look
at the benefits and balance those against the negatives.
At times offshore staff will simply not have the
level of skill required to complete the necessary
tasks. Offshore outsourcing is not the answer to
every problem, but in many cases it is beneficial.
in technology and improvements in infrastructure
in many formerly third world countries like
India, being able to conduct a process such
as answering UK calls for National Rail Enquiries
in Bangalore, has become a lot easier. Cost
isn’t the only driver. Many companies
cite offshore outsourcing as a way to heal
the skills gap that will become a greater and
greater problem in the UK as the population
Offshore outsourcing is an integral part of the
rising tide of globalisation. Whereas in the past,
many developing countries could only really compete
in global agricultural markets, the ability to provide
services, such as IT, accounting, call centre work
etc. is having a real impact on these countries’ economies.
India’s recent huge economic growth is not
solely down to offshore outsourcing, but it is an
The worry in the UK has been that developing countries
will benefit to the detriment of European economies.
But this shouldn’t be the case. European countries
will be using these offshore locations to conduct
lower level work – much of the higher-level
operations will be retained in-house or on-shore
at least. In turn, this should boost these companies’ revenues,
which will be ploughed back into the home nation.
If the future rolls out as predicted, globalisation
will have a positive impact on all countries competing
on the world stage – every country will benefit,
meaning jobs for all.
But it’s not just economic benefits.
There is evidence that globalisation and offshore
outsourcing are instrumental where it comes
to ironing out political difficulties. Look
at India and Pakistan. Historic rivals, until
recently they were on the brink of a possible
nuclear war. But Western companies have cited
political instability as one of the major barriers
to offshore outsourcing.
Many companies froze offshore outsourcing
plans, when political tension in the area began
to look as if it might bubble over. India and
Pakistan must have realized the potential economic
benefits they were in danger of losing out
on (Pakistan is trying to establish itself
as a major player too) and this must have been
significant when it came to the decision to
accelerate the peace process.
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