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Outsourcing: Standards Are On Their Way

June 20, 2011

I spent two days last week at the inaugural meeting of the International Standard’s Organization (ISO) working group on outsourcing. The golf of the group is to develop a worldwide standard that  provides guidance on managing the outsourcing life-cycle.

Outsourcing has been an increasingly prominent topic over the last 20 years and shows no sign of diminishing in the near future. Since one of its primary drivers is the possibility for cost reduction, it will remain in many cases a  cross-border activity, as organizations seek low-cost sources of supply. It is this aspect that makes the ISO initiative of particular value, since it aims to create more consistency in terminology and understanding, with a view to enabling better constructed and more successful outsourced relationships.

Given its own global reach and the involvement of many of its members in outsourcing projects (including in some cases the outsourcing of their own business function), it will be no surprise that IACCM is closely involved in this initiative.  Our membership has a wealth of experience to offer and it is initiatives like this that lie at the heart of IACCM’s mission ‘to increase the integrity and success of trading relationships’.

There will be some who view projects like this as threatening. While they will doubtless couch their criticism in terms of creativity or constrained competition, the truth is that standards threaten no such thing . They create a baseline that enables increased efficiency and increases the possibility for greater focus on differentiation and innovation. In fact, the only people who lose out are those who make their living based upon avoidable complexity and confusion.

As with all global standards projects, progress will take time. It will require the building of consensus and the various project groups are made up of dedicated volunteers who have full-time job responsibilities outside this project. However, the meeting was able to draw from excellent work already undertaken at a national level in various countries and this provides some initial building blocks for eh international teams now assembled.

At this point, the work is focusing on process and that means there is no plan to produce a set of model agreements or terms and conditions. The contracting process certainly will be addressed – and perhaps IACCM members will decide that there is merit in building from this to produce model contracts that could also be used as a reference guideline.

Volunteers – and ideas – are welcome!

One Comment
  1. “Outsourcing has been an increasingly prominent topic over the last 20 years and shows no sign of diminishing in the near future.” – I completely agree! Surely, there have been negative reactions with regards to the concept of outsourcing but those don’t hinder its ongoing growth and success. Still, the positive ones outweigh them! On another note, standards can actually be the foundation of an excellent outsourcing service provider. It’s a plus to be ISO-certified.

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