Outsourcing’s status report is: “Good progress, but could do better!” – at least, that’s according to the GSA’s current Satisfaction Barometer, which shows an average end-user satisfaction rating of outsourcing as a strategy of 63% - just above a score of 61% for cloud/as-a-service offerings, but substantially down on the 76% score secured by the in-house shared service centre option.
The Barometer – the latest phase of which ran from September-December last year and polled 667 respondents online and at GSA events – shows however that despite those findings investment in outsourcing is forecast to outstrip that in internal shared services by a wide margin: 76% of respondents said their organisations plan to increase their outsourcing spend over the next two years, while only 30% envision increased shared services investment within the same timeframe. Perhaps significantly, the same figures for investment in RPA, AI and cloud are 84%, 64% and 79% respectively; 59% currently deploy RPA in their organisations
Buyers asked to rate their satisfaction with their key service providers gave a cautious thumbs-up with an average overall rating of 59%. Drilling down into specific areas of satisfaction, it appears that providers are doing the basics rather better than the value-add stuff: buyers rated their providers at an average of 72% on “achieving SLAs”, 61% on “achieving outcomes” and 59% on “collaborative working”, but only 41% on “innovation” (“transparency of costs”, long a cause for concern and a key target for the GSA in 2018, only scored 48% here). That less-than-resounding endorsement of current providers is reflected in the fact that some 67% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “there will be changes to my existing portfolio of key service providers over the next 12 months”, although over 30% stated that they “will stay with the same service providers because the cost of swapping them out is too high”.
The most satisfactory elements of providers’ approached to relationships, according to buyers, are their “approach to governance” (72%) and “leadership visibility and effectiveness” (66%); at the other end of the spectrum clients are concerned about their providers’ “delivering of added value” (51%) and “effectiveness of change management” (58%).
The drivers behind today’s sourcing agreements remain relatively uncontroversial: in order, respondents are currently giving priority to “cost reduction”; “allows them to focus on core services”; “greater access to skills”; “digital transformation”; “greater access to innovation”; “improvement of service quality”; and “transfer of risk”.
Finally, a look at some of the broader trends affecting the outsourcing space generally shows an interesting diversity of opinion amongst sourcing professionals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 83% of respondents agreed that “sourcing is not an industry; it is a profession” – though 76% think that “the term ‘sourcing’ needs a complete overhaul and redefining”. Brexit is clearly causing a few heart murmurs: 64% agree that “I am concerned about the future impact of Brexit on my business”, while 52% say that “there has been a definite slowdown in client decision-making as a result of Brexit”. Another topic that’s been dominating headlines, however, seems to be much more ambivalently viewed: while 58% “believe robotic process automation is being overhyped by the industry”, only 30% are “concerned that RPA is going to negatively impact jobs” in their organisations while a stonking 72% believe it “is going to be a positive new revenue stream for my business”.