Impact sourcing is not just rural sourcing
- Outsource Magazine
- On March 19, 2015
When talking about impact sourcing it is easy to think about rural areas in India or Sub-Saharan Africa. However, impact sourcing can also happen much closer to home. According to Everest Group, two of the requirements for the impact sourcing model are using an untapped talent pool with skillset aligned to match client needs, and that it fulfil corporate social responsibility and diversity objectives.
Both of those objectives can be fulfilled in almost all (if not all) societies. There are always people who fall outside the job market for reasons out of their control. An example of an impact sourcing setup is the one Liberty Source has with AOL. Liberty Source mostly employs military spouses from Virginia, United States. This is a group of people who might have high levels of education and all the skills required for normal BPO work. However, they very often find themselves left out of the job market because of the frequent moves and disruption which come along with marrying into the military. Another example is the NGO Deaf Aid, which together with Cisco Academy gives deaf people in Kenya an IT education and hence an opportunity to get a “proper” job in the IT business. Being partly deaf myself, I know what a disadvantage it is, and it is amazing to see these people getting an opportunity. Being deaf can actually even be an advantage for some tasks: as you don’t hear, you don’t as easily get distracted with all the noise that is around you in a traditional BPO centre. This way, a deaf person might actually be better suited for some tasks that require special concentration.
According to public Norwegian statistics, the employment rate among disabled people is only 43%. This is a big burden for society, as a huge portion of the welfare budget goes to this group. The Norwegian government has now stated that it will do more to get work for disabled people. One company that has picked up the challenges is the Norwegian sports and outdoor clothing company Stormberg. Their Inclusive Workplace concept is a model that probably could be adopted by a number of companies. According to this model, 25 % of those recruited at Stormberg will be people who have had trouble entering employment. Even if they are not an IT outsourcing company, the same model can very well be used also by such companies.
Research done by The Monitor Group indicates that cost of power back-up and generators and the cost to attract and retain senior-level management are two main challenges in rural areas. Those obstacles are easier to overcome with impact sourcing in more crowded areas. Socially responsible sourcing is also a way to strengthen a client’s brand.
How does this affect a company’s sourcing strategy? I think the phrase in the Everest Group definition “skillset aligned to match client needs” is a key here. When starting a sourcing process it is easy to think that “big is best”, meaning that using a big company is a safe option. That might very well be true. However, what about thinking slightly outside the box? Identifying what is the required skillset is not an easy task. Small companies in your local area might have different skillsets from their bigger competitors. It is quite telling that many small impact sourcing companies in India serve the local market. They will have an advantage by knowing the local languages. The same is the case if a small Norwegian impact sourcing company is chosen for a Norwegian customer. By looking at alternative solutions to your requirements, you might get new insight and can make your decisions on a broader base. And if your selection of sourcing partner can even help you to help society then why not?
About the Author
Karsten Eskelund is a Senior Advisor at the leading Norwegian sourcing advisory company Infocom Group. He has more than 20 years of experience within the global IT business, including a couple of years working and living in India. How to get people to work together across different locations is his main interest and he wrote his thesis about how to overcome communication challenges in global projects. Currently he helps customers in all their outsourcing activities, from creating a sourcing strategy,through conducting the commercial process into transitioning to the new vendor.