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Outsource magazine: thought-leadership and outsourcing strategy | September 23, 2017

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Standardisation in outsourcing

Standardisation in outsourcing
Joerg Stimmer

“Industrialisation in Outsourcing” is discussed in a lot of articles, presentations and marketing collaterals. Being convinced that the effects of such industrialisation could provide significant benefits, it seems worthwhile to provide an interpretation of the implied consequences, e.g. the need for standardisation. Industrialisation, in my understanding, is a clever combination of standardisation in utsourcing services processes and of a later automation of their provisioning.

Coming from a background in telecommunications, I am very much aware of the benefits – even necessities – when providing or consuming services on a global scale, especially when several parties need to cooperate smoothly. A perfect example are the standards of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which are the foundation of the global success of mobile communication networks, ensuring that network operators, network manufacturers, handset manufacturers etc. are compliant with each other.

It is motivating to see first initiatives start to work on specifications in outsourcing and on a common goal. Examples are the DIN institute in Germany, and similar activities starting in the UK and Benelux, which now result in an international effort of the ISO. Needless to say, pliXos (as well as EOA Germany) is actively involved in those activities.

In future steps, standardisation will not stop at processes, but will have a major impact on tools to be used for services provisioning. As soon as the processes per services type are well defined and agreed as a standard, it will be possible also to define the technical interfaces between customer and service provider at the same level of detail. Some of the many benefits to be obtained will be a faster services implementation, and cheaper initial set up costs, as well as a far easier replacement of a service provider.

Outsourcing customers are getting more and more experienced and expect a partner – whether a consultant or a service provider – to provide more value to them than just ensuring the selection of the right partner, right services or to ensure a successful transition of tasks. Providing a value-add beyond that requires innovative solutions. My answer is tools for standardisation concerning outsourcing, which should develop into a future industrialisation.

Just food for thought: in case the outsourcing services (e.g. in the form of building blocks), and especially the technical interfaces, are well defined: how about defined standards for the measurements exactly at the interfaces customer – service provider and feeding that into a standard application concerning benchmarking?  I am excited about the future opportunities for the community to jointly develop an “Industrialisation in Outsourcing”. But that will be a topic for an article at a later stage…

If the majority of players in the outsourcing domain – customers as well as service providers – see the benefits of the aforementioned standardisation, I promise the outsourcing sector a major push in productivity and quality, long term, to the benefit of all involved. In the short term, of course, the transparency which comes with standardisation as well as the option to change a supplier relationship will impose significant challenges on some suppliers. But I suggest “love it (we do), take it (we try) or leave it (bad luck then)”…

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