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Harv Bus Rev. 2005 Dec;83(12):135-43, 154.

Getting offshoring right.

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University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Philadelphia, USA.


The prospect of offshoring and outsourcing business processes has captured the imagination of CEOs everywhere. In the past five years, a rising number of companies in North America and Europe have experimented with this strategy, hoping to reduce costs and gain strategic advantage. But many businesses have had mixed results. According to several studies, half the organizations that have shifted processes offshore have failed to generate the expected financial benefits. What's more, many of them have faced employee resistance and consumer dissatisfaction. Clearly, companies have to rethink how they formulate their offshoring strategies. A three-part methodology can help. First, companies need to prioritize their processes, ranking each based on two criteria: the value it creates for customers and the degree to which the company can capture some of that value. Companies will want to keep their core (highest-priority) processes in-house and consider outsourcing their commodity (low-priority) processes; critical (moderate-priority) processes are up for debate and must be considered carefully. Second, businesses should analyze all the risks that accompany offshoring and look systematically at their critical and commodity processes in terms of operational risk (the risk that processes won't operate smoothly after being offshored) and structural risk (the risk that relationships with service providers may not work as expected). Finally, companies should determine possible locations for their offshore efforts, as well as the organizational forms--such as captive centers and joint ventures--that those efforts might take. They can do so by examining each process's operational and structural risks side by side. This article outlines the tools that will help companies choose the right processes to offshore. It also describes a new organizational structure called the extended organization, in which companies specify the quality of services they want and work alongside providers to get that quality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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