Book Review Web-Based and Traditional Outsourcing

Web-Based and Traditional OutsourcingWeb-Based and Traditional Outsourcing by Vivek Sharma and Varun Sharma published by Infosys and CRC Press far exceeded my expectations and is definitely a recommended read for nearly all managers, but especially those in procurement, product development, IT, and anyone working on the provider side of the sourcing industry. The reason I recommend Web-Based and Traditional Outsourcing can be summarized into four main reasons.

  1. Sharma has presented outsourcing in a very balanced approach by addressing not only the value proposition but also the issues and concerns from the outsourcing recipient’s and provider’s perspective.
  2. Authoritative examples were used extensively as case studies across a wide range of business process outsourcing (BPO) applications as well as more typical IT outsourcing arrangements with more BPO examples than IT examples.
  3. The factors affecting the outsourcing value proposition for the recipient and provider were covered equally for every outsourcing model imaginable including insourcing, partnerships, onshore outsourcing, nearshore outsourcing, and offshore outsourcing.
  4. Anyone looking to develop new business models or reimagine existing business models will find extensive insights and specific details on how web-based outsourcing is being used to by outsourcing recipients and providers to respond to economic downturn with new products, expanded value proposition and improved business operations.

At roughly 400 pages readers who are not involved in product development, procurement or IT management will still find a lot of value in picking up Web-Based and Traditional Outsourcing because the chapters are clearly organized so you can do some targeted reading.

If you are already in an sourcing relationship or just considering the benefits of outsourcing, the sections on vendor selection, choosing a sourcing model, contracting, and ongoing operations including considerations for the various models, roles and responsibilities, and key success factors will be especially useful to you.

Again, Sharma includes numerous BPO examples including tax, financial services, payroll, engineering, customer service and accounting as well as examples from software development, help desk and disaster recovery.

There were times when it seemed Sharma was over emphasizing the benefits offshore outsourcing to India as compared to other emerging countries like Brazil, South Africa and China. To Sharma’s credit, his analysis was always very detailed and well supported by research in the sourcing industry giving plenty of attention to onshore and nearshore outsourcing alternatives.

There is one word of caution worth mentioning which is that if you are looking for a book on cloud computing this is not it. That is because web-based outsourcing is not dependant on cloud computing although cloud computing can be a key factor in numerous BPO and IT outsourcing arrangements.

To that last point you should be relieved, because Web-Based and Traditional Outsourcing focuses primarily on the business models of outsourcing for the provider perspective and how outsourcing can be used to strengthen the recipients operations, business models and value proposition.

So for the CIO looking to be more strategic this book will help build your orientation to your organization’s business models and your ability to contribute more strategically. To that point, the fact that Sharma gives healthy attention to non-IT opportunities for outsourcing, CIO’s should be able to broaden their perspective and contribution.

Finally, I made several notes while reading Web-Based and Traditional Outsourcing that center around the importance of the outsourcing decision being very dynamic. That is, that every manager, including CIO’s, should be strategically revisiting sourcing decisions as economic and business models change as well as for specific projects.

The dynamic nature of outsourcing isn’t limited to changes in the outsourcing drivers.
The outsourcing value proposition can also vary widely between specific business models, products, functions, processes and even projects warranting that outsourcing whether onshore, nearshore, or offshore, to be considered as part of the strategy in nearly every aspect of business today.

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