When the outsourcing industry pundits blithely tosses out the term “innovation,” we tend to think they are delusional. Since everyone agrees that outsourcing is geared to deliver positive changes in efficiency, productivity, cost and quality, what is “innovative” about outsourcing? Are we using a puffed-up word to pretend we’re getting or delivering more value?
But true outsourcing innovation—not the usual five percentages points on productivity, or a $20,000 resource located offshore replacing a $100,000 FTE onshore—means opening up a can of worms. If processes are to yield more than the proverbial better, faster and cheaper, we’ll need to make major changes in organization and activities. We’ll have to think outside the box, perhaps consolidating CPG companies’ order to distribution processes with those of retailers. Or tie together the T&E payment process directly with travel management. We’ll have to stop talking about partnership as proxy for relationship, and start imbuing the term with the trust that delivers breakthrough performance. And we’ll have to look risk straight in the eye, and declare we are not afraid to fail in the name of innovation.