Outsourcing

Outsourcing A practice used by different companies to reduce costs by transferring portions of work to outside suppliers rather than completing it internally.

Outsourcing is an effective cost-saving strategy when used properly. It is sometimes more affordable to purchase a good from companies with comparative advantages than it is to produce the good internally.

An example of a manufacturing company outsourcing would be Dell buying some of its computer components from another manufacturer in order to save on production costs. Alternatively, businesses may decide to outsource book-keeping duties to independent accounting firms, as it may be cheaper than retaining an in-house accountant.

Currently, outsourcing takes many forms. Organizations still hire service providers to handle distinct business processes, such as benefits management. But some organizations outsource whole operations. The most common forms are information technology outsourcing (ITO) and business process outsourcing (BPO).

The process of outsourcing generally encompasses four stages: 1) strategic thinking, to develop the organization's philosophy about the role of outsourcing in its activities; 2) evaluation and selection, to decide on the appropriate outsourcing projects and potential locations for the work to be done and service providers to do it; 3) contract development, to work out the legal, pricing and service level agreement (SLA) terms; and 4) outsourcing management or governance, to refine the ongoing working relationship between the client and outsourcing service providers.

In all cases, outsourcing success depends on three factors: executive-level support in the client organization for the outsourcing mission; ample communication to affected employees; and the client's ability to manage its service providers. The outsourcing professionals in charge of the work on both the client and provider sides need a combination of skills in such areas as negotiation, communication, project management, the ability to understand the terms and conditions of the contracts and service level agreements (SLAs), and, above all, the willingness to be flexible as business needs change.

The challenges of outsourcing become especially acute when the work is being done in a different country (offshore), since that involves language, cultural and time zone differences

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