Monday, 18 February 2008

Outsource the Outsourcing

When I set up my current business, it was focused on filling outsourced project requirements. From feasibility studies to managing marketing projects; activities that the client could not handle internally. It was – and is – an efficient model. Client overheads remain low as they utilise outside resources to manage projects or fulfil needs on a case by case basis.

It is no coincidence that my own business utilises that outsourcing model for delivering our own projects; we outsource design and other creative disciplines to networks of freelancers and small companies. It means not only do we keep overheads low but it ensures we select the right team for each respective project.

This month’s ‘Fast Company’ reports on a radical new outsourcing model at Pfizer. Management were concerned that senior staff hired to innovate were instead ‘googling and making powerpoints’.

Some U.S. Pfizer executives in the now have the opportunity of delegating these tasks to outsourcing companies in India who look after ‘knowledge-processing’ from research and data analysis to making powerpoints. Companies like Office Tiger act as internal consultants hired on a task-by-task basis.

Apart from outsourcing powerpoint creation (we have all witnessed some truly awful powerpoints in our time), I am not convinced about the outsourcing of small tasks. How much time does it take to brief for each task? How much time to check or verify the task once it is done? In that time, you could have done the task yourself.

In this knowledge-economy, knowledge-processing is surely at the heart of strategising. Executives will have to weigh up whether delegating that bit of a project (whether to the person in the next office or someone in India) gives them the necessary overview to do the strategising in the first place.

In the meantime I am working on a model to outsource the outsourcing…

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