Daily Archives: April 2, 2015

Societal Damnation 47: XaaS (Part I)

XaaS, short for Everything as a Service, is the latest craze that is going to cause your Supply Management organization nothing but suffering and pain. While it sounds really cool, because, historically, the transformation of a non-core but essential function (legal, accounting, etc.) or utility (water, electricity, waste disposal, etc.) into a service made your life easier, as with any good thing, it’s always possible to have too much. (A glass of red wine a day is a good thing, unless you are an alcoholic, but the same cannot be said of a bottle. A couple of aspirins are a good thing if you have a headache or a mild heart condition, but a bottle can kill you. Recruiting firms are a good thing, but imagine the chaos if you had to hand over all hiring to a third party who knew nothing about your corporate function or talent needs. Think about that for a minute.)

The right services can provide an organization with considerable advantages that include, but are not limited to:

  • Expertise
    that the organization might not have
  • Cost Reduction
    from economies of scale when all the service provider does is a certain function (and can amortize solution and personnel costs across multiple clients)
  • Efficiency
    that comes with best practices and the focus of personnel on homogenous tasks in an efficient manner (under the right, lean, six-sigma optimized, virtual production line model)

provided the organization does not have the economies of scale, dedicated personnel, or expertise in house. However, the wrong services will burden the organization with a number of considerable disadvantages that may include, but are not limited to:

  • Cost Increase
    as cost reductions only materialize if there is enough work on which to achieve a cost reduction (through the provider’s economy of scale) that covers the incremental overhead and management cost that goes with outsourcing a function
  • Efficiency Decrease
    since the management and administrative overhead of handing over a small amount of work is more than the efficiency savings achieved by the third party when there is not enough work to take advantage of an economy of scale
  • Loss of Control
    which is critical if the task is critical to organizational success (which is the case if the task supports the core business function of the organization)
  • Third Party Management (3PM) Nightmare
    if the provider is difficult to work with, in a time-zone that is opposite to normal working hours or the time-zones under which most other third parties operate, or has management requirements that are unduly burdensome to an organization already stretched thin with regards to third party management requirements

And if different business units decide to start outsourcing what they perceive as non-core functions (which are in fact core to the business or which should be managed by Supply Management or a different business unit), functions for which the service provider cannot achieve economy of scale, or functions that have not been optimized for outsourcing (which will result in an efficiency decrease as a best-practice provider will not be able to optimize inefficient workflows) willy-nilly, Supply Management will have quite a third party management mess to deal with.

How so? Come back for Part II.