Has the Outsourcing Craze Finally Stopped?

According to a recent article in the CPO Agenda, in the recessions and its aftermath, companies are re-examining the business cases for keeping processes in-house or outsourcing them. It’s return of make or buy. And it’s about time.

Not that I have anything against outsourcing, if it’s the right function to the right provider in the right location at the right price point, I just have something against outsourcing everything you can put your hands on. At some point, there’s more being done outside your four walls than inside. At this point, chances are that if you haven’t already outsourced most of the value your organization produces, you’re pretty close to that point. And once most of the value is elsewhere, what reason do people have to invest and support your company?

If Back Office Boys are handling your back-office tasks, Marketing Madmen are handling all your marketing and advertising, Rocket Resellers are handling your sales and account management, Stylized Support is doing your support and CRM, Custom Manufacturing Inc is doing your product design and production, and Total 3PL is doing all of your forward and reverse logistics, what are you doing? Okay, you’re orchestrating, but how are you any different from anyone else with the same skill set? So if someone else comes along, builds the same relationships, and finds a way to produce a competing product 20% faster, 20% better, and 20% cheaper, how long are you going to last?Not long. Not to mention, if you are producing 100% custom products, or 100% (very) high volume products, there’s a good chance you can do it cheaper in-house if you build and retain differentiating expertise.

And if you have to invest capital in a supplier’s business to keep your own afloat (as 9% of CPOs in a recent survey by CPO Agenda had to do), or acquire a failing and/or strategic supplier (as 3.6% had to do), it kind of kills the argument for (going overboard on) outsourcing, doesn’t it?

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