The aim of this paper is to go beyond the “What to outsource” and “To Outsource or Not” debate. Recognizing outsourcing as a fast growing reality that firms have to depend upon, the paper concerns itself with optimal management of outsourcing arrangements through the practice of “outsourcing capability”. It argues that outsourcing failure can be mitigated if organizations see outsourcing as an “ongoing activity” to be managed as opposed to treating it as a one-time opportunistic “act”.
Based on the review of existing literature and drawing upon recent instances of outsourcing successes and failures, the paper develops a conceptual framework which divides various organizational processes into four different classes. It delineates the varied aspects of “outsourcing capability” that a firm would need to use to manage these varied class of processes as and when they are outsourced.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to managing outsourced processes. Different processes require emphasis on different aspect of outsourcing capability if outsourcing is to deliver the envisaged benefits.
The traditional focus in outsourcing literature has been on the core/non-core process with the recommendation to keep core processes in-house and outsource the non-core processes. This distinction can be transitory and hence detrimental in the era of hyper-competition. I argue that firms should instead focus on developing and refining aspects of “outsourcing capability” relevant to the varied class of processes that they wish/need to outsource.
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