While reports continue to cite drops in outsourcing demand growth, recent analysis of found substantive evidence of a robust outsourcing marketplace. Signs of continued market health, which supports previous sfinding of a requisite outsourcing market "reshaping" as opposed to a downtrend include:
- Global and regional demand: Outsourcing demand was up 50% in 2Q07 in the Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) region, and up 37% globally
- IT outsourcing: One-half of sourcing advisors cited IT outsourcing (ITO) as the strongest functional growth area, continuing strong 1Q07 demand trending
- Demand for ITO in Europe was especially strong during the quarter as demonstrated by the fact that 60% of the publicly announced deals of greater than $50m in total contract value in May and June 2007 were for buyers based in EMEA countries
- One third of sourcing advisors cited finance and accounting outsourcing (FAO) as the leading outsourcing demand area; demand is particularly strong in EMEA
- Outsourcing in the public sector is increasing in both North America and Europe, as illustrated by the $20b telecommunications outsourcing deal between the U.S. General Services Administration and a Verizon/CSC consortium, and the EUR 1.3b+ ITO deal between the Italian Central Government and AlmavivA Group
- Non-traditional outsourcing areas: Outsourcing in areas such as knowledge processes, engineering, R&D, document services, facilities and real estate, logistics services, data analytics and legal process work is gaining traction, signaling a clear trend of heretofore "out of the box" outsourcing acceptance. A strong example of non-traditional outsourcing is the $950m litigation support services contract between the U.S. Department of Justice and a Lockheed Martin-led consortium
- Smaller, "under the radar screen" deals: The market is experiencing an influx of - $1 - $10m outsourcing engagements, many with clients using a variety of providers; these deals may not be publicly announced, and often remain under the internal radar screen due to their size
Said Stan Lepeak, EquaTerra's Managing Director of Research, "The outsourcing market is clearly maturing and growing in new areas, as we're seeing initiatives of all shapes, flavors and sizes. And while this bodes well for organizations looking to attain the variety of benefits outsourcing can deliver, those who source on a smaller, more distributed basis must safeguard against losing value in the process. Buyers must ensure they leverage their spend and relationships with their providers, appropriately staff their governance processes - some centrally, some decentrally - and deploy a comprehensive governance program using the latest techniques and tools."
Despite the positive market findings, both providers and buyers continue to experience a dearth of talent possessing the skills and experience required to support increasingly complex outsourcing deals. On the service provider side, these talent challenges (referreed to as "capacity constraints") include insufficient experience in sales pursuit, engagement, transition and actual service delivery. Buyers are challenged with a lack of sufficient skills and experience to support transition and ongoing governance requirements. These capacity constraints impact demand growth in some regions and functions, pricing competitiveness, sales cycle, time-to-contract, profitability and satisfaction with the initiative.
While service provider capacity constraint should not dissuade potential BPO buyers, most buyers need to better account for it in their sourcing and transition plans. They need to press service providers to deploy their "A" teams on their deals, realistically assess transition timeframe estimates and resource requirements, and ensure they are adequately preparing for and investing in post-transition governance efforts.
Other key findings include:
- Outsourcing buyers - in general - are more positive about their outsourcing experiences than in past quarters, and are more realistic and sophisticated, especially relative to outsourcing's ability to deliver innovation and process transformation
- There is ongoing growth of multi-location global service delivery capabilities
- The supplier base is expanding and diversifying, particularly in BPO
- Pricing competitiveness, overall, is stable, but it remains a seller's market in BPO, especially in HRO