During the past year, I have encountered a lot of discussion about how much of a company’s core operations is safe to outsource. Many people are afraid of handing critical information over to external resources even though, at its best, outsourced expertise is an investment in the continuity and development of company operations.
From a business point of view, the core operations of a company are the most important operations which can help the company stand out and create competitive advantage. Usually, these are the operations that the company wants to keep as much as possible in the control of its key persons. However, each company should acknowledge that none of the key persons of the company is self-evident.
Wouldn’t it be important for the continuity and development of operations that changes occurring in the environment would not endanger the level of company operations?
Stability in changing operations
The right kind of service provider can bring stability in times of change, such as when there are changes in personnel or during a holiday season, and assist in long-term development. When you hire a completely new employee, you kind of have to start all over again. The job-changing roulette is fast-paced also for service providers, but when well organised, information is not tied to a single person. Instead, others are able to step up and take over.
Each service provider wants to make an impact on the customer and is constantly ready to generate ideas for taking operations forward. During a long collaboration, understanding of the customer’s wishes and operational field grows and strengthens capabilities for agile development. If the development of company operations is always carried out by a small team, there is a risk of overly narrow views and scarce resources. Furthermore, a good service provider is able to provide an extensive network of experts to support the development.
Many companies are afraid of data being transferred to another company. But, isn’t it the same thing when one of the company’s key persons starts to work for another company? Data has and will always be transferred. It is more a question of what information everyone has and how it is contractually managed.
Smooth collaboration and genuine support for the customer’s operations
Outsourcing core operations is a strategic decision for each company to make for themselves, but it would be wise to ask if outsourcing could actually reduce risks related to the operational environment and ensure continuity. Outsourcing does not have to be purely transferring operations to a service provider in black-and-white terms, but instead it can be a smooth collaboration relation for providing genuine support for the customer’s operations.
Personally, I have great experiences of customer environments related to analytics and supply chain management where, with right type of risk management, we have been able to not only tackle issues related to changes in personnel through external service provision, but also to develop completely new operational models for the field with the help of an established principal/customer relation.
Therefore, I want to challenge all companies to think about which of the following would be a greater risk: keeping everything under the company’s full control, or finding partners to support the company’s core operations.