Category: Outsourcing

Is the Request for Proposal in Procurement Dead?

Despite its historic success, the Request for Proposal (RFP) in procurement may be dying in today’s fast-moving environment. Alternatives are emerging that deliver greater flexibility and agility, leading to more innovative solutions. But RFPs still have life left to get the best pricing when comparing similar commodity services. To learn the best practices, read on.   

While RFPs have successfully delivered great business results for decades, a growing sentiment is that the process has its limitations, especially in complex deals. In seeking proposals for services, no perfect model exists for finding the best solution and balancing cost, quality, and risk. The sourcing approach always relies heavily on the skill and experience of the specialists delivering the activity.

Some of the shortcomings we see in using the RFP outsourcing services process include:

  • RFPs are slow – The sequential approach from gathering business requirements through to contracting can take more than six months for most complex procurements, which is a disadvantage in high-speed environments. Best-in-class organizations take far less time for the same activities in IT strategic sourcing initiatives, completing the process in nine to 10 weeks, according to our IT Sourcing Pinnacle Model Assessment
  • RFPs lack agility – Buyers can become tied into less-than-optimal solutions because they fear adjusting or adapting the requirements will lead to a lot of reworking and additional time communicating with suppliers. Customer concerns that the whole process might need to be restarted if they make changes limits flexibility
  • RFPs make direct comparisons difficult – An RFP can be effective in comparing pricing on a consistent set of business requirements where exact specifications can be documented.

However, using an RFP submission is not of value when comparing like-for-like services that can be delivered in multiple ways while still meeting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Using an RFP can lead buyers to make decisions purely on price and not on the fitness for purpose of the solution offered

Most procurement and sourcing teams know the traditional RFP process has its restrictions, so why is it still being used?

Procurement, finance, and senior leadership teams who traditionally prefer to look across a set of “line-item costs” and compare suppliers to make a selection are comfortable with the RFP process. It is clear who is offering the best price, even if it does not help identify the best solution.

Other more informal approaches may leave procurement teams open to allegations that a “proper” process was not completed. It is important to have an audit trail of procurement activities for many reasons including compliance. The RFP is seen as a very robust and traceable way to conduct a procurement event.

Alternatives to the request for proposal in procurement

To address some of these issues, procurement teams are using alternatives to the traditional RFP approach that can either stand alone or be used alongside a traditional RFP in outsourcing services. A few emerging approaches we see are:

  • Joint solutioning sessions – The buyer and selected suppliers work collaboratively to develop a solution to address a business problem or opportunity. As an example, a leading agriculture company conducts regular solutioning workshops with suppliers to shape requirements for white space IT Research and Development (R&D) solutions. Generally, this format works best for newer services but is not recommended for commoditized solutions such as Application Management Services (AMS)
    • Pros – A collaborative approach where a solution is shaped in partnership with the supplier is more effective at addressing a dynamic set of requirements and allows suppliers to include all elements, including value-add services and technology as part of their solution
    • Cons – This method does not allow for comparisons between suppliers as each solution delivered is unique. Conducting multiple workshops across suppliers poses the risk of information asymmetry, while conducting one workshop may discourage suppliers from sharing ideas. Further, suppliers can tend to get sales-oriented across workshops and preferred suppliers with leadership presence in the workshop, more skin in the game, or better connections may get an undue advantage
  • Pilots – Running a pilot with a supplier to test a new concept/model
    • Pros – Works well with an incumbent and when the solution can be quickly deployed into operation
    • Con – Ineffective when looking to bring in new suppliers, and costs are high to implement a pilot that may not progress to operation
  • Reverse auctions – Traditionally used to source simple services or goods, reverse auctions are becoming increasingly popular in outsourcing services. However, the complex and dynamic nature of e-auctions requires robust technology and advanced supplier training.
    • Pros – A proven way of getting competitive pricing for commodity products
    • Cons – Not suited for extremely complex service procurement where the method of delivery is not comparable across solutions offered. An unclear process or underlying assumptions can lead to an unfair bid comparison. Therefore, the process must be standard with clearly laid out assumptions for all stakeholders

Examples of outsourced services well-suited for auctions

Capture

Source: Everest Group, The Effective Use of E-auctions in Outsourced Services

Agile sourcing recommendations

When deciding if an RFP is required as part of a procurement event, it is important to weigh if the ability to compare pricing across consistent deliverables is first, important, and second, possible. If the answer to both of these is “no,” then an alternative solution may be more appropriate.

In cases when an RFP is required either to meet internal requirements or to compare across like items, we see an increased focus on “agile sourcing.”  This method is less sequential or waterfall-like and more agile, similar to approaches used in project management and software development.

We will cover more on this topic in the coming months, so stay tuned for future blogs. For now, let’s look at the following best practices we have observed in an agile model that shorten the RFP process while driving increased value:

  • Run pilot projects with suppliers before awarding additional spend
  • Share a standard list of obligations in the pre-contract phase
  • Provide suppliers with all details, accessorial charges, and potential changes during the RFP process
  • Initiate supplier discussions earlier and more frequently
  • Conduct one-day supplier workshops instead of lengthy discovery and selection processes
  • Reduce multi-page proposals to single-page templates to clearly explain requirements and engagement
  • Keep suppliers involved for as long as possible. Procurement can discuss terms and conditions with all suppliers, not only the ones they will contract with
  • Run the initial round of negotiation and contract drafting in parallel to the sourcing process
  • Ensure constant interaction occurs across the sourcing lifecycle between the buying organization and the supplier to develop the contract collectively and incrementally

No standard approach exists for skipping steps in an RFP. Each sourcing exercise is unique and procurement leaders typically rely on their teams’ expertise to decide on the sourcing methodology.

While times are changing, RFPs are still alive and have their place for commodity items where the costs for like-for-like items need to be compared. But the age-old process may no longer be suitable for complex services deals where innovation is key. To move into the future, sourcing teams should start evaluating alternatives.

To discuss RFP outsourcing services further, please reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].

Learn about current outsourcing pricing in our webinar, Outsourcing Pricing: 3 Pitfalls and 2 Unknowns Enterprises Need to Know in 2022.

Konecta-Comdata Merger Creates a Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Giant – What Does it Mean for the CXM Market?

The planned merger announced last month between Konecta, the leading provider of Spanish-speaking Customer Experience solutions, with Italy-based customer management provider Comdata will create the sixth-largest player by revenue in the customer experience Management (CXM) BPO sector. This consolidation will intensify competition in the attractive CXM market, with the combined entity commanding close to €2 billion in revenues and €300 million in EBITDA. Read on to find out what this big deal will mean.

Creation of a global champion

Comdata

Global CXM provider Comdata offers end-to-end management solutions (acquisition, retention, customer service, technical support, and credit collection) in 30 languages across four continents and 21 countries with its network of 50,000-plus agents. Headquartered in Milan, it served more than 670 clients in 2021, generating revenue of approximately €980 million.

Konecta

Konecta, acquired by Pacheco together with the company’s management team in 2019, is a leading tech-enabled end-to-end CX BPO player in the Spanish-speaking markets. It has successfully integrated different companies such as the Brazilian Uranet and the Spanish Rockethall group, reinforcing the company’s leadership in Artificial Intelligence, digital marketing, and big data solutions. In 2021, it generated revenue and EBITDA of approximately €918 million and €148 million, respectively.

Combined entity

Subject to approval by authorities, the merger is expected in the third quarter of 2022, creating a global CXM leader capable of providing the “best shoring solution” to local, regional, and global clients in 30-plus languages across industries such as finance and insurance, technology, telco, retail and e-commerce, utilities, and healthcare.

The combined entity will be headquartered in Madrid (Spain), jointly chaired by the CEOs of Konecta and Comdata. It will serve more than 500 large corporations across Europe and America, leveraging the expertise of 130,000-plus employees. According to a statement by the companies, “the new group has a solid financial structure and will take advantage of its position in Spain, Latin America, Italy, and France to deploy all its commercial and operational capacity in its strategic markets. In addition, it will have additional capabilities to fuel its growth in the North American market and throughout Europe.”

Key drivers of the merger

The advantages of this deal are:

  • Expansion in Latin American and Spanish markets: The combined entity will become the market leader in Spain and Italy with a strong presence in Latin American domestic markets such as Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Guatemala, Argentina, and Chile. It will have over 500 large corporate clients in Europe and Latin America. The new company will enjoy the advantage of Konecta’s strong dominance in the Spanish market, where Konecta has been aggressively expanding in the past few years, especially by acquiring four different Spanish companies that were part of the Rockethall Group in 2020. In these markets, the joint company will have a significant role in telecom, BFSI, utilities and energy, the consumer goods sector, and several big tech and new economy global brands
  • Enhanced delivery capabilities in Latin America: Labor-cost pressures, the talent shortage in onshore North America, and the desire to relocate some offshore operations closer after the pandemic have increased Latin America’s attractiveness for nearshore delivery capabilities. Some of the latest examples include Transcom’s re-entry in Colombia; new sites opening in Trinidad and Tobago by Teleperformance, iQor, and Valenta BPO; and itel’s acquisition of Emerge BPO with employees in Guyana and Honduras. The combined entity will have strong nearshore delivery capabilities to support US clients, including 20 sites in Colombia and seven in Mexico, offering a multi-country delivery model across the entire LATAM region
  • Differentiated customers: Both Konecta and Comdata are leaders in their respective local markets. The majority of Konecta’s revenue comes from Spain, Portugal, and Latin American regions, with Comdata having a strong presence in Italy, France, and some Latin American countries. Overall, the client overlap between both service providers is very limited, reducing the revenue loss due to cannibalization
  • Operational synergies: Buyers’ preferences when outsourcing CXM have evolved from the traditional levers of cost and scale to now prioritizing digital CX capabilities, end-to-end integration, and value-added services in their portfolio. This merger will allow the sharing and cross-selling of certain specific CX transformation capabilities such as Comdata’s C-suite tools, expertise in Voice of the Customer (VOC), and consulting and operational redesign services with Konecta’s content and performance marketing and conversational commerce offerings. Through its Uranet subsidiary in Brazil, Konecta also owns platforms for customer journey orchestration, knowledge management, and contact center infrastructure

Competition among other global providers

 With US$2 billion in revenue and 130,000 agents, the combined entity gives tough competition to other global CXM providers such as Teleperformance, Sitel, and Concentrix. Below is a look at the capabilities of these global providers in comparison to the combined entity. 

Teleperformance Sitel Concentrix Konecta+Comdata
Revenue US $8.4 billion US $4.3 billion US $6 billion Approx. US $2 billion
FTEs 420,000+ 160,000+ 290,000+ 130,000+
Languages 265+ 50+ 70+ 30+
Countries served 170 40 40+ 24

 

Considerations for buyers

Although organizations have the best intentions to use mergers and acquisitions to supplement their organic efforts, they generally underestimate the risks such as failure to achieve synergies, lack of due diligence, and security and integration challenges. Business leaders have often recognized people, culture, change management, and communication as the top reasons for integration failure. Lack of adequate change management policies can affect the organization’s governance and accountability structure, cause stress and uncertainty for employees, and decrease productivity for businesses, ultimately impacting service quality and timely delivery.

Future outlook for the CXM market

With Sitel’s acquisition of Sykes and Webhelp’s acquisition of OneLink BPO and Dynamicall in 2021, the trend of consolidation among CXM market players is gaining traction. Consolidation enables service providers to work with large clients across multiple delivery countries and end markets, a capability that is rising in importance for CX clients. It also enhances service offering portfolios and technology capabilities by serving as a one-stop-shop for buyers for all CXM needs.

This deal also represents an opportunity for buyers to reexamine their vendor portfolio since certain service providers might now be better positioned to support their clients across multiple locations and processes, representing an opportunity to optimize their portfolio with fewer providers to achieve operational and cost efficiencies.

To discuss the CXM market landscape, please reach out to David Rickard, Vice President, BPS, [email protected], Divya Baweja, Senior Analyst, BPS, [email protected], or contact us.

You can also learn how expanding and developing businesses are attracting technology-focused workers to help execute existing and evolving digital transformation, adopt new processes, and innovate. Join our webinar, How to Effectively Attract and Drive Productivity within the Tech Workforce.

Increased Deal Activity in Revenue Cycle Management (RCM): What is the Winning Formula? | Blog

Health systems are increasingly seeking competitive proposals post-pandemic to outsource Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) and get the best prices and innovation in contracts. Learn what enterprises want and how providers can win these RFPs. 

Why has outsourcing gained traction in the Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) market?

The hospital revenue cycle process was not immune to the many changes COVID-19 brought to the US healthcare provider ecosystem, causing health systems to significantly shift operations to survive.

Challenges such as financial pressure, regulatory changes, the quality care and patient experience focus, and digital penetration pushed health systems – who traditionally prefer to keep operations in-house – to look outside for support. This drove more than 10% year-over-year growth in sourcing in the RCM market in 2021, and the strong contracting activity continues to gain traction this year.

Several health systems, including MarinHealth, Baptist Health, SSM Health, and Bassett Healthcare, have entered into outsourcing agreements with third-party vendors. However, unlike most past arrangements when sole-source was the dominant sourcing model, RFP-led sourcing is now the preferred model for healthcare providers in the post-pandemic world.

Exhibit 1: Split of new Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) services deals in 2021 – sole-sourced versus RFP-led

Picture1

Source: Everest Group’s coverage of 32 major RCM services outsourcing providers

Why do healthcare providers prefer RFPs?

Key factors driving health systems towards a competitive route over sole-sourced are:

  1. Unlike the pre-COVID era, when outsourcing was, typically, limited to a revenue cycle function or segment, the new deals coming in the Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) market are broad-based and many times encompass the end-to-end revenue cycle needs of healthcare providers. Given the size and scale of such deals, healthcare providers prefer the competitive route to get the best possible deal
  2. While cost used to be the primary decision-making driver, health systems are now emphasizing deal aspects such as innovative pricing (wanting third-party providers to have skin in the game) and offering diversified delivery network, innovation pool commitment, and compatibility with existing infrastructure, including experience of working with platforms such as Epic
  3. With hundreds of outsourcing providers in the RCM market, health systems know they can shop around to get the best deal

Key decision-making parameters for health systems in a competitive bid

Healthcare provider enterprises are looking for service providers who can provide end-to-end services covering the entire gamut of Revenue Cycle Management (RCM), rather than discrete, siloed services.

From a decision-making perspective, below are some of the key parameters that enterprises look for when selecting a potential service provider, along with their relative importance rated on a scale of 1 to 10:

Exhibit 2: Level of importance of key buyer decision-making parameters for outsourcing Revenue Cycle Management (2021)

Picture2

Source: Everest Group’s coverage of major Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) providing enterprises

Service providers need to pay special attention to how they position themselves effectively in the extremely competitive RCM market. The two main levers determining a winning proposal are:

  1. High-quality, well-structured proposals that demonstrate a deep understanding of the client’s needs
  2. Commercial proposals that are well aligned with the client’s budget and offer flexible payment terms

 

As competitive RFPs rise in the RCM market, providers who can create a differentiated value proposition and align their strategies with the enterprise’s vision will succeed in securing these lucrative deals.

To discuss Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) reach out to us at [email protected], [email protected], or contact us.

Learn more about RCM operations in the healthcare industry in our video, Revenue Cycle Management RCM Operations – Emerging Opportunities & Strategies.

Building a Resilient Supplier Cyber Risk Management Strategy | Blog

Sharing sensitive data with outsourcing providers in today’s interconnected digital world has increased organizations’ vulnerability to cyberattacks, making it more important than ever to have an effective supplier cyber risk management strategy. To protect against threats, read on to learn the best practices for supplier cyber risk management.  

In today’s risky and interconnected environment, it has become essential for organizations to have a supplier cyber risk management strategy to identify, protect, detect, respond, and recover from supply chain cyberattacks.

The critical importance of relationships with outsourcing service providers has been amplified by the pandemic and recent geopolitical turmoil due to the Ukraine-Russia crisis. Outsourcing suppliers now play a vital role in running business operations, and these partnerships have grown more sophisticated.

With data sharing between the two parties increasing multifold, organizations have greater exposure to ransomware attacks, phishing, denial-of-service, and other cyberattacks.

Depending on the sensitivity of data shared with suppliers, the potential risk of data loss can impact an organization’s business operations – making it essential to develop a supply chain cyber risk management plan to protect from significant financial and operational impacts.

Not having a formal supplier cyber risk management strategy can cause compliance issues. With scrutiny on global supply chains intensifying, a lack of supplier insights can lead to government regulation violations, resulting in financial losses and tarnishing an organization’s brand.

As suppliers have access to sensitive and business-critical information, managing permissions and protecting data from unauthorized access, misuse, and data loss become crucial.

Further, many other risks exist from a supplier’s operational perspective, including issues related to geopolitics, bankruptcy, and macro risks. Organizations should have complete supply chain visibility to rapidly respond to susceptibilities and disruptions at the supplier’s end.

All of these factors can have a long-lasting impact on an organization’s image and reputation, potentially deteriorating customer loyalty and trust. Hence, having a resilient supplier cyber risk management strategy that includes visibility, transparency, clear communication, and collaboration has become non-negotiable for organizations.

The Everest Group risk management matrix

Let’s take a look at the different risk scenarios and their remedial measures below:

Picture2 1

Exhibit 1: Everest Group Supplier Management Toolkit: Risk Management in Outsourcing

Best practices for developing a supplier cyber risk management strategy

Developing a Supply Chain Risk Management (SCRM) program is indispensable for organizations as they become increasingly vulnerable to supply chain attacks.

Currently, the risk management focus in outsourcing is limited to compliance requirements such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), Service Organization Control (SOC) certifications, industry-specific compliances such as Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST), and criminal background verifications.

Other vital factors such as geopolitical and offshoring risks have not yet become key executive priorities. Further, as more companies lean on service providers to drive digitalization and corresponding transformation in their outsourced processes, organizations rarely try to identify potential risks and establish associated mitigation/contingency plans.

Some industry best practices such as ISO/IEC 27036:2013 and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework have been updated to include information security for supplier relationships, highlighting the importance of SCRM in corporate security. In terms of cyber security, this involves:

  • Defining cyber security requirements and measures that apply to suppliers based on their risk category
  • Enforcing these requirements via formal agreements (e.g., contracts) to ensure suppliers enter a binding commitment
  • Verifying and validating communication and access from and to suppliers
  • Ensuring effective implementation of cyber security requirements
  • Managing and supervising the above activities periodically

To optimally engage with and manage suppliers, the entire supplier life cycle should be organized into these three phases:

  1. Before and during the contracting phase – Screening suppliers before onboarding is essential for organizations to assess financial, operational, and reputational aspects. Procurement heads need to carry out background checks to ensure suppliers’ compliance status and performance viability. An exhaustive contract with legally binding responsibilities related to cyber security for both the organization and its suppliers should be created. This contract should define fundamental and high-level security requirements and privacy-based controls for supplier relationships at every point in the life cycle
  2. During the ongoing relationship – Once suppliers are onboarded, organizations must track all assets suppliers can gain entry to in a central repository. Customers should categorize suppliers into different risk classes based on how critical the information is to further define appropriate cybersecurity controls. These controls should be continuously evaluated to ensure adherence
  3. After the termination of the relationship – Offboarding a supplier requires disabling its logical and physical access, removing access to any data, and destructing it to ensure the supplier doesn’t hold any sensitive data. This phase also requires ensuring no severity incidents are pending and facilitating proper handoff between suppliers

Prevalence of risk management processes in the supplier life cycle

How common is it for organizations to have established risk management processes in each of the third-party life cycle steps? Our polling results show while most organizations have these safeguards in the first stage, fewer use them in later phases, as illustrated below:

Picture1 2

Exhibit 2: Everest Group’s Webinar Quick Poll (Could Your Business Partners Be Offering More Risk than Support?)

The supply chain for almost any organizational procurement activity can be the target of cyberattacks, either by going after the supply chain or the supplier’s/organization’s systems, once they are integrated.

More complex and sophisticated attacks are often left undiagnosed or unreported, making them potentially more disastrous for enterprises. At different points in the supplier management life cycle, stakeholders across organizations will have the primary responsibility for establishing and maintaining effective supplier cyber security controls.

Vigorous governance is required to ensure relevant stakeholders are responsible at the right time to guarantee optimal and best efforts are made to combat any cyber threats. To complement this governance, a strong collaborative culture across different departments is needed to drive continuous improvement.

Learn how to create an effective program for your organization in our executive brief on Cybersecurity Risk Management in the Supplier Life Cycle, part of our supplier management toolkit.

Please reach out to [email protected] to gain further insights on supplier cyber risk management or Contact Us.

Discover even more about cybersecurity in our current environment in our webinar, Cybersecurity: What You Need to Know to Find the Right Partner and Price.

Ukraine IT Sector: Resilient, Agile, and Hopefully Here to Stay | Blog

The Ukraine IT sector has grown as a result of, and not despite, its humble, post-Soviet origins, and characteristics of agility and resilience appear to be serving it well. Read on as we share the viewpoint of our expert who traveled to Ukraine after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in this blog.

In March 1992, four months after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, I traveled to Ukraine to attend a hastily convened conference on the liberalization of post-Soviet telecommunications in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Delegates flew into Simferopol on a Swiss Air charter, and we took a rickety bus ride across the Crimean Peninsula to Yalta, the site of the eponymous wartime conference.

The conference was chaotic but enlightening: Soviet telecommunications had been so Moscow-centric that at independence, Ukraine did not have a singular, state-owned telecom carrier and virtually no direct international circuits. Disparate local networks loosely managed by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications were spread across Ukraine’s 22 administrative districts. These networks became Ukrtelecom in 1994, but outdated and inefficient fixed-line service was overtaken by rapid mobile take-up from the mid-1990s.

The results? A generation of Ukrainians grew up with mobility as their default. And the legacy of decentralized infrastructure led to a fragmented internet marketplace with ten or more internet service providers. Mobility and decentralization spawned an entrepreneurial and healthy, if not spectacularly large, IT services sector that now has some 290,000 professionals – 79% of them “individual entrepreneurs,” that was worth over $6.83 billion in export revenue in 2021, according to industry association IT Ukraine.

The Ukraine IT sector, innately agile and resilient, was in many ways prepared even more thoroughly for the dislocation caused by the Russian invasion, having endured 20 months of pandemic-enforced remote working. Anecdotal evidence, popping up in podcasts, on LinkedIn, and in mainstream media, suggests that the Ukraine IT sector is very much still working. Companies like Intellias and Sigma Software in Lviv, GeeksForLess in Mykolaiv, Reface in Kyiv, and many more, have contributed, according to IT Ukraine, quoted in an April 6 article on DOU.ua, to “almost 85% of [IT] companies operat[ing] in a normal business rhythm.”

How long the Ukraine IT sector can maintain that normal business rhythm, of course, remains uncertain. While some look to post-war opportunities in an independent Ukraine, created by the outflow of business from Russia and possibly Belarus, the current reality is that the reduced appetite by foreign businesses for risk and the execution of business continuity plans have meant that work has started to move outside Ukraine.

That said, I expect a significant share of work that is currently being delivered, and that can continue to be delivered remotely, will remain longer-term with Ukrainian companies or contractors, irrespective of whether specialists are operating in western Ukraine or outside of the country.

Indeed, Lviv IT Cluster, a body representing business, academia, and local government, claims that upwards of 40,000 IT specialists have relocated to Lviv in western Ukraine since the invasion, swelling the available talent headcount in the city to between 70,000 and 100,000. For now, internet and power in Lviv still function, and as long as they do, the Ukraine IT sector will find a way to continue its normal business rhythm.

To discuss the Ukraine IT sector further, please reach out to [email protected] or contact us.

Learn more about the current impacts in the Ukraine region in our LinkedIn Live session, How to Manage the Ukraine-Russia Impact on Service Delivery.

Global Supply Chain Management Strategy in Times of Disruption | Blog

The RussiaUkraine war is further disrupting already deteriorated global supply chains. With the high political tensions, service providers need to implement a mix of short- and long-term approaches like reshoring, ally shoring, and partnerships to overcome the crisis. Read on to understand Global Supply Chain Management Strategy and the global supply chain issues and strategies to build greater resiliency in times of disruption.  

Global supply chain issues and strategies  

The global supply chain has been upset over the past two years, starting with back-to-back global economic setbacks that impacted nearly all goods and services in every industry around the world.

While the supply chain hit on essential goods and medical services from COVID-19 is now plateauing, rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine have only added to the already strained global channels and delivery.

The ripple effects of the Russia-Ukraine war can be seen in rising oil prices, trade restrictions, and financial sanctions. Even though Russia is receiving economic penalties, countries that depend on Russian goods and services have to begin looking for an alternative supply. Similarly, countries depending on Ukraine’s IT outsourcing services are suffering as well.

With these recurring global shocks unsettling global trade dependencies, the changing dynamics of international relations, and the growing uncertainties, governments across the globe are moving to implement policies to make supply chains more resilient.

Impact on service providers  

During the pandemic, the Information Technology Sourcing (ITS) industry observed a dramatic 3% fall in overall growth, and the Business Process Sourcing (BPS) industry growth lagged. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is estimated to impact between 70,000 and 100,000 service professionals in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, including highly-qualified workers with digital engineering and IT skills.

The immediate concerns go beyond ITS to Engineering Services (ES) since Ukraine has been a go-to-market with a mature talent pool for both sectors. The full trickle-down effect on BPS is yet to be fully seen. Although BPS’ dependency on Ukraine is minimal, the conflict’s escalation to neighboring countries is expected to more noticeably impact Eastern Europe, which forms the third-largest outsourcing location, following India and the Philippines.

Eastern Europe hosts several service providers across industry verticals, including Banking and Financial Services (BFS). Sixteen major service providers already directly engaged with Everest Group are located in this region, enabling different processes across the BFS vertical, including capital markets, banking operations, and financial crime and compliance. Outsourcing adoption across the payment vertical had been growing as well and could be impacted.

The conflict majorly derails Ukraine’s focus on driving Fintech and tech and banking collaboration that started in 2018 with major FinTechs in Ukraine raising US$7 million in funding. In addition to the growing concerns among service providers, the increasing sanctions have already resulted in volume spillover, and firms are starting to become more vigilant in their strategies to brace for the future.

Global supply chain management strategy to consider

Given the latest scenarios and rising political tensions, countries increasingly are investing in shifting their shoring operations to form leaner and more robust supply chains. This move has been underway since nations began reducing their dependencies on China following the COVID outbreak. Japan has been incentivizing such shifts and encouraging private companies to move operations to countries like India, with friendlier ties than China. Taking a similar approach, the US is now limiting its dependencies on Russia for oil and looking to be self-sustainable in the longer run.

On the financial services front, long before the Russia–Ukraine war, countries have been encouraging citizens to limit dependencies on foreign platforms for their financial transactions. This can be seen by Russia’s MIR and China’s UnionPay advocating for using Rupay for all card payments and lessening its dependence on Visa and Mastercard. Yet, Rupay’s technology operations are partially sourced by an American technology provider. Thus, the question of complete independence, reshoring, or nationalization of financial services is rather difficult.

With rising global tension and the downturn of cyclic economic globalization on the horizon, firms need to consider remediation action for the future. Let’s explore some of the global supply chain management strategies to consider for the near- and long-term.

Five global supply management strategies

Below we have identified popular global supply management strategies and their impact on costs and investments:

  Strategies Impact
1.Friend shoring or ally shoring: This form of outsourcing where countries with friendlier diplomatic ties leverage their connection to ensure business continuity is growing. Post-pandemic, it has been imperative for enterprises to focus on business continuity, especially with growing outsourcing demand across industries such as banking, healthcare, insurance, etc., and for a wide range of capabilities, including financial accounting, customer experience management, and human resource management.Short-term strategy
2.

Reshoring: While not a new concept, reshoring is increasingly being explored now. In 2010, US firms brought back more than 1 million jobs post the economic downturn. Reshoring helps save costs, strengthens a firm’s supply chain, and can even bridge language and cultural gaps. But reshoring is not possible for everyone if resources are limited.

Long-term strategy and investment
3.

Talent upskilling:  Given the rising talent shortage, upskilling internal resources should be in the cards to provide better leverage and control over internal resources – even without the current tensions.

Long-term investment
4.

Partnerships: Partnerships within existing firms in the country should be explored to bring capabilities and processes nearer to home. In addition, partnering enterprises can leverage existing service provider relationships to fill gaps in capabilities. Firms also can form public-private partnerships with governments and state-funded universities to provide skills training and then hire new talents.

Long-term investment
5.

Automation:  Given the rise in digital transformation and the adoption of newer technologies, an automation-first strategy is imperative. Automation of high-frequency tasks can speed up processes and decrease human dependency on outsourcing partners.

Long-term investment

In today’s volatile environment, service providers need to assess and weigh the options before making shoring decisions to maintain a balance between cost competitiveness and labor shortages.

With the current disruptions, reshoring and friend-shoring strategies should be explored in the short term. Moving forward, when the climate is more stable, cost optimization and efficiency should be prioritized. Understanding the issues and balancing short- and long-term global supply chain management strategies will help firms get through this disruptive period.

For more about the successful mix of approaches the industry has been using across various domains, see our State of the Market reports.

Read more about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and potential impacts to nearshore European countries and the larger global services industry in our blog, Will Ukraine’s Invasion Have a Domino Effect on Other Geopolitical Equations?

To discuss global supply chain issues and strategies, contact us.

Why Areas of Enterprise Services Spend Will Increase in 2022 | Blog

When looking at the market outlook for services spend in 2022, I see several areas that will change dramatically. It is clear there are two primary drivers for the changes: the post-COVID-19 situation and the need to be more strategic in a digital world. Both drivers will change the way companies need to operate next year, and both will increase the cost to operate. Here is my overview of the coming changes.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

If IT Is from Mars, Procurement Is from Venus: 5 Steps to Break the Chasm between IT and Procurement for IT Sourcing

It may seem at times that the IT and procurement departments can be on different planets when it comes to IT sourcing services spend. But it doesn’t have to be “us” versus “them.” Read on to learn how to counteract differences in communication styles and behavior patterns, so your entire organization wins.

For a complimentary analysis of your IT sourcing practices, take our IT Sourcing Pinnacle Model® survey to see how you compare against best-in-class or IT sourcing Pinnacle Enterprises™ across leading global organizations.

Take our Survey

How their stars align

Anyone who has set up a new procurement department at a firm with large volumes of untracked indirect spend knows they first need to target the IT department and get involved in their sourcing projects. The reasons are simple – IT has large volumes of spend, generally adopts procurement practices the earliest, and can become the greatest support system in the long-term. The CIO’s office consists of the visionaries who are willing to take high risks of trying something new and are the least process-sensitive of all business units. Often, IT category managers end up closely collaborating with their functional leads, and certain organizations centralize procurement departments in IT. Further, as early adopters, IT prefers to rely on their own intuition and vision and also are willing to serve as highly visible references to other adopter groups in the population (i.e., other business units). Thus, IT is the stepping stone for procurement if they want to establish their foothold in the organization and increase spend under their influence, which is still abysmally low. The typical procurement team is not involved in nearly half of their company’s services spend, as can be seen in the exhibit below.

Procurement influence across indirect spend in Pinnacle Enterprises™ (best-in-class organizations that lead the services sourcing journey) and other enterprises

Source: Services Sourcing Organizational Maturity | Pinnacle Model® Analysis (Everest Group 2020)

Image 1

Colliding orbits 

However, at the same time, the IT function can be highly demanding.  IT is always in upheaval, beset on one side by users and the other by budgets. As in any relationship, IT and procurement tackle multiple such chasms, but their problems range across the same old partnership concerns that exist in modern-day relationships – stonewalling, unsolicited criticism, and the atypical “you never listen to me!” argument. Multiple examples can help prove this analogy: IT and procurement do not have regular meetings (in most organizations, they do not even meet monthly), do not involve each other across stages in sourcing engagements (IT is known to invite procurement late in the sourcing journey, whereas procurement is known to keep IT out of negotiations), and still treat each other as separate entities, instead of working towards a shared goal.

If the two could solve a couple of key issues in this troubled relationship, the IT-procurement partnership can create great profitability for the firm in the long haul. Here are five ways to help strengthen the bonds between these crucial areas:

  1. Support each other’s growth and development: The basic rule of a relationship is that when one is growing at a rapid pace, the other needs to ramp up to provide support. Organizations are being driven to rapidly undertake digital transformation by recent market trends such as migration to cloud services, servitization, and cybersecurity measures becoming the new norm. IT spend is spearheading the growth of an organization, with IT services spend itself expected to reach about US $721 billion by 2025.

 

Global IT services market spend (in US$ billion)
Source: Everest Group’s Application Services State of the Market Report (2021)

Global IT services market spend

This increase in IT services spend requires procurement to rewire their own agendas from being cost-focused towards becoming more value-focused, and also reshaping outsourcing contracts to ensure long-term success in today’s changed outsourcing environment. Further, at this point of rapid growth, it is imperative for procurement to up its IT sourcing game by becoming more agile and reducing sourcing turnaround time, gaining more category intelligence in emerging technology areas such as blockchain and cybersecurity, getting used to negotiating complex licensing agreements, and adjusting contracts to incorporate recent rate increases requested by suppliers due to the current scramble for IT talent

  1. Stay involved throughout the journey: At the onset of any relationship lies trust, and both parties must build trust and loop each other in all aspects related to the sourcing journey. IT can implement this by undertaking steps such as including procurement at the requirements gathering    phase in a sourcing engagement, keeping them abreast about business requirements that can drive supplier capabilities, giving a transparent picture about supplier performance in oral presentations, and ensuring procurement is involved in all conversations about sourcing selection. This deal goes both ways. It is essential for procurement to keep IT onboard for actual negotiation talks and decisions, help price and right-size contracts for deals, and bring category and sourcing intelligence from past successful deals and supplier partnerships

 

  1. Back each other in times of crisis: While risk management has become key in today’s day and age, occasionally, there are crises that no one can predict. Smart strategies help in such scenarios, for instance, during the coronavirus crisis, many IT and procurement leaders worked together to keep their small- and medium-sized suppliers afloat with early payments and by identifying new areas of cost optimization (e.g., creating negotiation opportunities through internal demand management without harming suppliers)

 

  1. Listen to each other: Regular communication is key as each party brings in specific skillsets and typically, IT and procurement should have a monthly cadence at the minimum. The results of proper communication can be seen through an example in sourcing risk mitigation – IT brings a better understanding of the contractual risks, such as the possibility of software license audits, while procurement has the experience within contract risk management to ensure suppliers establish appropriate controls and provide contingency plans. In this scenario, IT and procurement can leverage each other’s skillsets to ensure end-to-end risk coverage

 

  1. Finally, act as partners, and not as boss-subordinates: Traditionally, procurement treats category departments as their end customer and becomes driven towards serving all their needs. However, it is crucial to treat this relationship as a partnership over a boss-subordinate model (where IT is the client and procurement is the department serving them). Procurement should confidently bring in their expertise from strategic sourcing and spend analysis to contracting, benchmarking, and spend management to deliver value within IT. Procurement also should provide constructive criticism towards IT decisions, even if it involves redesigning their buying process

 

This point is key – but it involves a fundamental shift in the way these two departments view themselves. In my last role in procurement consulting driving value in the IT category at a US-based consumer packaged goods firm, I observed that while procurement worked closely with the IT team (with the procurement team even sitting within the IT office), they were often at loggerheads. Being the subordinate department in this case, procurement frequently had to go the extra mile to ensure the IT department did not make destructive moves, such as revealing the baseline to the supplier at an early stage, or unconsciously leaking to selected suppliers that they would definitely be awarded the contract (and thereby sabotaging procurement’s negotiation strategy in the engagement). Being on the procurement side, I did not understand how IT was suffering due to procurement’s clear invasion into their territory. I can imagine that the IT audience reading this blog can talk in detail about procurement’s insufferable demeanor and uninvited settlement on their home ground. By better understanding their differences, IT and procurement can find common ground and realize they can effectively operate in the same universe after all.

Take our survey to get a complimentary analysis of your IT sourcing practices and learn how you compare against best-in-class, or IT sourcing Pinnacle Enterprises™ across leading global organizations. For further details on how we can support sourcing and vendor management leaders, contact Bhanushee Malhotra, Practice Director, at [email protected].

 

Surprising Sub-saharan Africa and the Continent’s Growing Relevance for Service Delivery: What You Need to Know to Select Your Next Offshore Location | Blog

Looking at offshore destinations for service delivery, Sub-Saharan Africa – particularly Nigeria – is emerging as a surprising location with the potential for forward-looking providers and customers to seize. But what risks come along with the opportunities for doing business in this part of the world? To learn what you need to know to make the right site selection, read on.   

Africa does not immediately come to mind as an offshore destination for service delivery. In the past, the main destinations for low-cost offshore centers, both in-house and outsourced, have been India (for broad BPS operations including customer-facing CXM) and the Philippines (for CXM), particularly when the operation requires a good level of English language proficiency.

However, in recent years, the level of interest in Africa as a destination has been growing as enterprises look for cost-effective alternatives to traditional locations and to balance their risk from too much activity in one country/region.

Within Africa, South Africa has been strong for several years, especially for CXM. North African locations such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco have also experienced growth for IT, back office, and language support for French and other EMEA languages. Up until now, there has been less activity in Sub-Saharan Africa (outside of South Africa), but this is starting to change.

Advantages of Africa

Enterprises are now starting to seriously look at Africa as a destination for outsourcing for many reasons, including:

  • Population – Its huge and youthful population of 1 billion, with over half of the talent pool projected to be under the age of 25 by 2050, makes it a great resource for BPS activities
  • Government support – In many countries, the government helps to enable global services delivery
  • Market potential – Many of the large service providers are yet to enter the market or have small scale operations supporting the local market
  • Infrastructure – Internet and other capabilities are improving. For example, CSquared (a Google subsidiary) announced a four-way partnership in 2017 to build out the shared fiber networks in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Spending growth – The latest African consumer trends show that consumer spending growth in Africa is projected to rise to $2.1 trillion by 2025 and $2.5 trillion by 2030, according to market forecasts

While interest in the continent is growing, enterprises also should be aware of the following risks:

  • Talent – Companies will need to invest in growing and developing talent locally by training recent graduates, building a recruitment engine from the ground up, and other activities to create an experienced talent pool. The low talent availability, limited language support beyond English, and high premiums commands also are concerns
  • Business environment – In comparison to other nearshore European locations, the quality of infrastructure, digital readiness, and safety and security are among the concerns for East and West African countries
  • Low market congestion – While key players supporting global services in most African countries is currently limited, the entry of a few large companies could easily congest the market and quickly increase costs
  • Delivery enablers – Limitations with utilities, transportation, meals/catering, stationery providers, office infrastructure quality, and poorer connectivity to domestic and international locations all present risks

Location selection is key

If an enterprise can balance the opportunities with the risks, we believe sub-Saharan Africa could be a wise choice. But selecting the right location is key. In our report from 2020 Africa: Emerging IT-BP Delivery Force, we reviewed ten of the most mature locations assessing talent availability with the financial attractiveness.

The key takeaway: Egypt and South Africa, the two most mature markets, scored well in terms of both talent availability and financial attractiveness. But a surprising entrant in the top right of the chart was Nigeria. While still relatively immature when it comes to BPS, Nigeria’s high level of talent availability makes it a financially attractive destination.

As an example of recent investments in the region, Microsoft invested $100 million to open a technology development center with sites in Kenya and Nigeria in 2018. Three years later, it released a joint announcement with the Government of Nigeria, detailing several projects aimed at intensifying the nation’s move to become a more digital economy.

Other locations driving conversations with enterprises are Ghana and Kenya, both presenting a high level of financial attractiveness but scoring lower than the leaders in terms of talent availability.

locations

        1    Reflects market average annual costs for English language delivery for steady state of operations blended across the delivery pyramid and excludes capital expenses related to set-up, transition, expat costs, and of economies of scale for large-scale operations

          2    Represents presence of entry level and experienced resources for specific functions blended in a 60:40 ratio

          3    Combination of maturity for services delivery, presence of global / regional GBS and service providers, scaled operations, and other related aspects

Source:   Country-/city-level investment promotion agencies and global services organizations

All the other locations we assessed, apart from Tunisia and Morocco, rated well in terms of financial attractiveness but were less strong when it comes to talent availability, presenting an issue for any enterprise looking to scale.

Talent forecasts

We believe the level of talent available in Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will improve over the next few years as global service providers and enterprises begin operations there, and talent from local operators accelerate their development by working for experienced operators. But it may take several more years to reach similar levels to those seen in North Africa or the country of South Africa.

In summary, sub-Saharan Africa is likely to grow in relevance as an offshoring destination for BPS, and forward-thinking service providers are already investing. As an enterprise, if you are considering the use of sub-Saharan Africa as an offshore delivery location, we would recommend several approaches:

  • Undertake a detailed assessment of the location to better understand talent availability and how it aligns with your future business and talent needs
    • Assess talent scalability as well as the capabilities needed to deliver process or skill-specific requirements
  • Understand how it aligns with your corporate strategy and CSR commitments
    • Africa is the main source of impact sourced workers, a growing area of interest for many enterprises
    • Understand how the potential location aligns to target markets for business development. Consider whether the potential location is a key target to grow your business
  • Conduct a detailed review of the service providers with delivery locations in the region to ensure they meet your requirements, especially in terms of talent and skills availability, cost, and business continuity

For more findings from our recent report, 2020 Africa: Emerging IT-BP Delivery Force, and to discuss Africa as a service delivery destination, please reach out to David Rickard ([email protected]) or Anurag  Srivastava ([email protected]).

An Unnecessary Defense of “Indian IT” | Blog

The recent headline, Indian IT Firms Set to Slash 3 Million Jobs by 2022 Due to Automation, grabbed attention. But our analysis shows this is nothing more than a catchy title. To learn about the other side of the picture that points to job and hiring growth, read on.

Occasionally, a news article or stray comment will suggest the Information Technology (IT) industry in India faces a stiff battle to survive against an onslaught of automation, cloud, and insourcing. The latest is the claim in news stories that 3 million jobs in India will be lost by 2022. The next day, NASSCOM shared data that suggested the opposite, and a few media outlets issued clarifications.

We had a chance to view an excerpt of the original Bank of America report that found automation is creating millions of new jobs and boosting global productivity. Our initial reaction is that the original story is a combination of faulty or incomplete analysis and lack of context, topped with a sensational headline.

Below we share a more nuanced understanding of the industry to help avoid such storms in teacups in the future.

The Definition of Indian IT-BPS

Media coverage of the Indian IT and Business Process Services (BPS) industry often conflates the India-based talent pool with homegrown industry giants like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL, and Tech Mahindra. The reality is that all firms, including globally headquartered giants like Accenture, Capgemini, DXC Technologies, and IBM (to name a few), have a massive presence in India.

The IT-BPS talent pool in India is employed across the following key segments:

  • Large service providers like the ones named above, irrespective of where they are headquartered
  • Mid-tier (e.g., L&T Infotech, WNS, Genpact, Mphasis, Hexaware), and smaller service providers (e.g., Aspire Systems, Maveric Systems, Cigniti, etc.)
  • Global Business Services (GBS) centers or Global in-house Centers (GIC) established by Fortune enterprises (e.g., Novartis, Bank of America, Shell, etc.) to serve their internal functions
  • Product development teams of Big Tech giants like Microsoft, SAP, Adobe, etc.
  • An increasingly rich ecosystem of start-ups that often serve a global clientele (e.g., Zoho, Zeta Technologies, Qure.ai, etc.)
  • Domestic demand for IT and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
  • Countless staff augmentation firms that serve as aggregators of talent (typically freelance) and help all the other segments meet their staffing requirements

Any analysis that fails to look at the swings and roundabouts between these segments risks missing the mark. For instance, insourcing – a growing trend of using an organization’s own resources instead of outsourcing – often tends to benefit Global Business Services (GBS) organizations at the expense of third-party providers. Automation and technology disruption may pull down demand for a few outsourced services, but simultaneously increase the desire for services in many other categories.

The Facts

Even if we assume for a moment that the term “Indian IT” was used loosely to focus on third-party outsourcers, the facts still do not support the following conclusions:

  • We estimate the total India-based headcount for outsourcers and shared service organizations (Segments 1, 2, and 3 above) across IT and BPS at 3 million full-time equivalents (FTEs) as of March 2021. The headline of slashing 3 million jobs by 2022 simply does not add up
  • TCS, Infosys, and HCL have publicly declared their intentions of hiring 40,000, 24,000, and 15,000 FTEs, respectively for FY 22. Capgemini and Cognizant plan to hire 30,000 and 28,000 in 2021. All of this is easily available public information
  • NASSCOM, in its clarification, estimates that the Indian IT-BPS talent pool expanded by 138,000 FTEs in FY21

Most of the industry leaders we speak with cite the opposite problem. They are facing a glut in demand and can’t hire fast enough. Enterprises are frantically upskilling existing employees to learn new technologies, impacting hundreds of thousands of FTEs across the talent pool in India. These skills do not exist in sufficient numbers externally so laying off current workers and hiring new ones is not an option. If the original report wanted to convey that companies are seeking to replace old tasks with new ones through reskilling, the headline failed to convey this accurately.

The Myths and the Nuances

Myth #1: “Indian IT” survives on doing commodity jobs that no one else wants to do

Reality: The talent pool in India enables many of the world’s most innovative companies to meet their objectives

Yes, the industry might have started to provide labor arbitrage but it sure as heck could not have survived and grown that way over decades. Just to cite a few examples, talent pools in India are supporting the advancement and application of technologies critical for autonomous driving. Software that is required to roll out 5G networks is being built and supported by India-based talent pools, as are platforms that power banking operations for some of the biggest names in the world. Many GICs we speak with mention that the share of commodity tasks in their portfolio is down to 30% (from 70% 10-15 years back). The current reality is a very far cry from the days of Y2K and spammy call centers. It might be helpful for skeptics to visit some of today’s modern India-based development centers and labs. The experience is usually quite eye-opening!

Myth #2: Automation is the equivalent of the Infinity Stone

Reality: Automation takes years and years to get right, and scale. This usually means time to adjust, and more work, not less

No, the RPA God does not snap its fingers to kill jobs. At the current level of maturity, RPA typically eliminates specific tasks. However, it is still some distance away from automating a process (a series of tasks/activities). Further, the scalability of RPA remains a challenge. What works for one type of task or even a series of tasks may not work as the context changes.  Yes, automation is getting intelligent through cognitive and Artificial Intelligence (AI). But as anybody who has spent some serious time in the AI world would attest, it takes time to first get the AI-engine trained and usually requires human-in-the-loop (HITL) to complete the process. To be clear, smart automation does increase the productivity of the individual meaningfully and, in turn, lead to process efficiency and other benefits. However, instead of “killing jobs,” it is creating more opportunities for service providers and GICs to serve enterprises more deeply and widely leading to higher demand for labor in India.

Myth #3: Things just die

Reality: In the world of technology, services usually evolve, and new categories get created, replacing old ones

We often hear an implicit (and occasionally explicit) assumption that technology disruption will kill old service categories. For instance, cloud will kill the need for IT infrastructure management, and that application testing is passe. And that’s it – nothing else happens.

In reality, IT infrastructure management is evolving to handle the complexities of hybrid and multi-cloud and is facing an acute talent shortage. There is a shortage of people who can test complex apps that are hosted on the cloud, control software-driven physical devices, or have elements of AI baked into them.

The history of technology shows that every disruption creates its own service model. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems were supposed to be the death knell for bespoke applications. Instead, they spawned a massive industry of consulting, implementation, customization, and maintenance. Automation to scale will require highly skilled talent to build, monitor, and maintain algorithms and datasets. As the pace of AI and Machine Learning adoption picks up, we are witnessing the expansion of Machine Learning Operations (MLOps) services, which help in the continuous delivery of algorithmic models.

Vindicating the Indian IT Industry

The world of technology is changing, arguably faster than ever before. India just happens to have the world’s largest reservoir of talent that can enable this change. The “Indian IT industry” does not need a sensational headline and it does not need defending. It deserves a deeper understanding that will help us predict and navigate these changes better.

Request a briefing with our experts to discuss the 2022 key issues presented in our 12 days of insights.

Request a briefing with our experts to discuss our 2022 key issues

How can we engage?

Please let us know how we can help you on your journey.

Contact Us

  • Please review our Privacy Notice and check the box below to consent to the use of Personal Data that you provide.