Category: Pricing

How Much Will Your Next Outsourcing Deal Cost? Understand These Seven Factors That Impact Pricing for Services | Blog

With outsourcing activity again picking up after slowing when the pandemic hit, now is a good time to gain a better understanding of how providers price IT services. To help ensure your enterprise gets the right value out of your next outsourcing deal, read on for expert pricing tips based on Everest Group’s experiences.

Below are seven common trends we see that can impact the pricing of outsourcing services:

  1. Of course, it’s the economy: Without a doubt, the economy plays a major role in the movement of deal pricing, especially when Black Swan events such as COVID-19 can throw away all previous estimates on the futures of pricing rate cards. The pandemic forced many enterprises to ask for short- to mid-term invoice discounts while others used it as an opportunity to renegotiate their existing contracts. As markets rebound, talent scarcity and travel bans are resulting in upwards movement in pricing at high-cost locations while pricing for digital talent at low-cost locations has reached an inflection point and is expected to turn around
  2. RFP versus sole-sourced deals: First, there is nothing wrong with a sole-sourced deal. It can be more efficient, shorter in duration, and deliver greater value compared to an RFP-led scenario, given you have a trusted relationship with a vendor of choice. By introducing competitive tension into the overall bidding process, an RFP can often be more effective in getting the best pricing. However, due to excessive price undercutting, the quality during delivery may not be what was promised during the talks or negotiations
  3. Cross subsidization of accounts: Often, vendors subsidize their loss-making accounts through their profit-making ones. This is why it’s so important for enterprises to benchmark regularly to see how prices compare against market peers and the overall industry
  4. Enterprise and sector financial performance: The performance of the industry or the sector as a whole can widely influence deal pricing. Sectors such as insurance or oil and gas that typically do not have very high margins usually have visibly low time and materials (T&M) costs or managed services pricing compared to enterprises in well-performing verticals such as life sciences, retail, investment management, or capital markets. While paying less in low or underperforming sectors is not guaranteed, clear trends point to this practice
  5. Buyer persona: The sourcing team can impact the negotiations in ways enterprises often can’t fathom. For example, a senior purchasing manager who has worked across a range of sectors and seen at least the last two recessions will bring a different experience into negotiations than purchasing resources who are newer in their careers and have worked in the cash-rich internet, high-tech, or e-commerce sectors, which can impact the price and length of the deal-making
  6. Transformation versus technical upgrade: If embarking on a complex transformation engagement that involves multiple elements such as change management, business consulting, architecture design, and a longer advisory/blueprinting cycle, it is highly likely you will engage a Tier 1 systems integrator or consulting heritage vendor (including the Big 4 firms) for the entire scope of work. Expect such engagements to cost as much as two and a half times more than a technical upgrade of a similar effort
  7. Contract terms and conditions: Service levels, service credits, and penalties can have a major impact on pricing without enterprise procurement realizing it. In our experience, most all the holdback or fees at risk the enterprise asks the vendor to commit to are baked into the deal as contingencies. So, if you are planning to have the most stringent service levels and fees at risk for your next deal, think twice about whether you need it

 

After advising on countless engagements, we’ve seen many other checkpoints that impact deal pricing. By starting with understanding the factors above, you’ll begin thinking about pricing from a more holistic viewpoint and be more educated at the negotiation table.

If you would like to talk more about pricing, please reach out to Achint Arora at [email protected].

Why the Focus Is Returning to Cost of Living Adjustments and Benchmarking Clauses in Outsourcing Contracts | Blog

Once standard provisions in outsourcing contracts – Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA) and benchmarking comparisons – are needed now more than ever to ensure long-term success for both parties in today’s changed outsourcing environment. With the turns over the past half-year making it a seller’s and employee’s market, these clauses can ensure enterprises capture high-quality talent without being overcharged for service delivery. To learn more about why it’s time to refocus on these provisions, read on.  

Over the past six to eight months, the global services industry has experienced a curious turn from starting the year as a “buyer’s market” due to uncertain demand and portfolio consolidation at large and medium enterprises. Similarly, the talent market was an “employer’s market.”

Fast forward to today, and the contrast could not be starker. Demand for global services has been booming. Enterprises are looking to diversify their provider portfolios. All it takes is one look at the quarterly reports of providers to see it is a “seller’s market,” while on the talent side, it is an “employee’s market.”

What is even more striking is that the talent shortage that is most visible for high-end digital skills also very much exists for other skills. It is not surprising that service providers are struggling to hold on to their existing talent even though they are rolling out salary hikes, special skills allowances, employee retention funds, etc. Further, the booming demand is forcing companies to hire at even higher compensations to fill the positions of departing employees and new openings.

Against this backdrop, it is important to also consider these few additional macroeconomic factors:

Onshore (U.S.)

  • Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation has surpassed the 5% mark for the first time in 30 years
  • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that job openings are at an all-time high at an overall economic level

Offshore (India)

  • For the past two decades, India has consistently been a high inflation country, with CPI inflation generally ranging between 6% and 8%. Despite the high inflation, it retained a strong cost reduction proposition because of a broad trend of currency depreciation. However, over the past year, the Indian Rupee has appreciated against the U.S. Dollar. As a result, the strong tailwinds currency appreciation provided has been replaced by moderate headwinds

As a result, pricing both onshore and offshore is now trending upwards. We have witnessed service providers approaching enterprises with proposals of out-of-cycle price hikes that, in some cases, exceed 20%.

The client’s conundrum

Enterprises are facing a dilemma of whether to break the budget and pay the desired prices to service providers or risk facing shortages in quality talent and potential business disruptions.

While there are no easy answers, a few factors to keep in mind are:

  • It is widely accepted that the talent shortage is here to stay for three to five years. However, the intensity of the shortage could stabilize. For instance, in the U.S., some states are prematurely ending unemployment benefits, and COVID vaccination prevalence is increasing by the day. As a result, additional workforce might enter the job market, potentially reducing some of the demand-supply mismatch for low complexity roles
  • In India, if the Rupee returns to its depreciating trajectory, the need for higher prices could abate

Therefore, a more pragmatic, immediate approach for clients is to align on short-term pricing increases instead of agreeing to structural changes in prices that would apply for the remaining deal term. Instances where clients are already paying above fair market rates might not require any further price increases.

Contract solutions

While short-term pricing increases can be a tactical way to accommodate the pressure of price hikes, to remain aligned with the fair market prices in the medium- to long-term, it is critical for enterprises to push for the inclusion and enforcement of two key clauses: Benchmarking and COLA.

Having a balanced benchmarking clause that contractually allows for an ongoing/annual reset of prices to market standards is in the interest of both sides. It can guarantee providers do not overcharge for their services. At the same time, it can ensure that the contracted prices are not too aggressive and out-of-line with market realities, to the extent that they impact the quality of talent or services delivered by the provider.

For situations where benchmarking is not done regularly, the fallback is having a robust COLA clause that allows service providers to adjust charges on an annual basis to reflect a fair increase in delivery costs. Historically, COLA used to be present in all deals. However, in some outsourcing deals that we reviewed or benchmarked over the last couple of years, COLA had been taken out of the contract under pressure from enterprises.

While that could have been justified in a low inflation environment and a buyer’s market, in the current situation having a robust COLA clause will ensure the long-term sustainability of the contract for the enterprise as well as the service provider.

To explore how our pricing analytics services could benefit your enterprise and share your pricing experiences, contact Rahul Gehani, Partner, at [email protected].

Are IT Buyers Pushing for Discounts Due to the Pandemic?

Not surprisingly, we’ve been flooded with questions about the implications of COVID-19 on the IT services industry over the past two months.

Let’s take a look at the two most prevalent questions.

How are IT contracts being impacted?

Financial distress – such as a dip in revenue generation and restricted cash flow – is forcing enterprise IT to review their IT contracts. Clients are exploring three options:

  • Putting non-critical projects on hold
  • Deferring payments to keep critical projects running
  • Seeking discounts

Their preferred option is putting non-critical projects on hold. Clients are triaging to keep their business-critical functions – like transactions systems, call centers, datacenters, and supply chain systems – running. However, they’re putting non-critical engagements, such as new application development and feature upgrades, on the back burner.

Second in order of priority is deferring payments. We’re seeing deferral requests increase in frequency, especially in distressed industries such as travel, transportation, hospitality, and medical devices. And we’ve seen payment terms going up to 180 days in a few situations. However, an early trend that will soon establish itself as the IT industry norm is balance sheet (or cash pile) financing; vendor balance sheets have started to play a role in enabling billing deferrals and “deploy now pay later” models. For example, Cisco has set up a US $2.5 billion war chest leveraging its balance sheet to help some of its clients defer payments until 2021.

Our analysis shows that vendor balance sheets, both tech products and IT, are healthy. For example:

  • IT vendors’ (HCL, Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc.) balance sheet assets over liabilities ratio ranges from 1.3x to 3.5x
  • Tech vendors’ (Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, etc.) balance sheet assets over liabilities ratio ranges from 1.1x to 3.4x.

And there is evidence that they may dip into them to help their clients out.

The third in priority is seeking discounts. We’re seeing anecdotal evidence of clients seeking discounts on contract value and in a few cases extending up to 50 percent of the annual contract value. But to clarify and qualify this:

  • The discount discussions are largely focused on time and materials (T&M) projects. Few are around fixed price and managed service engagements, which form a larger share of revenue profile for large IT vendors
  • And this means that smaller IT and staffing vendors – for which T&M constitutes larger share of the revenue profile – are going to be impacted more than the large IT vendors

Most importantly, we’ve seen enterprises being very flexible and collaborative with their vendors – working closely with them to keep initiatives running.

How will enterprises prioritize and fund IT initiatives during this crisis?

Enterprises are currently preparing their playbooks to navigate the ongoing recession. It’s important to note that recession does not mean that IT initiatives will be broadly deprioritized. Depending on the impact they see on their overall business and their anticipation of recovery, enterprise executives will triage their resources (cash, talent, vendors) to keep critical initiatives running.

Here’s a look at the framework we’re using to help buy-side clients prioritize their decisions:

  • Rescue business critical initiatives most severely impacted by the recession through financial engineering and aggressive cost takeout
  • Revitalize revenue-generating business functions that can gain from automation usage and cloud-driven agility
  • Reinforce the lowest impact portions of the revenue profile through M&A and product launches
  • Restructure those portions of the portfolio – such as vendors, locations, and talent – that already had redundancy and concentration risk issues

Portfolio approach by enterprises

In the coming weeks, enterprises will be using this framework to:

  • Triage between critical and non-critical IT spends
  • Build their blueprints for how they will reallocate budgets and engage with vendors
  • Identify new scope and financial models on which they’ll engage their vendors

Watch this space to see how this playbook evolves. If you have any questions or ideas on other approaches, please write to me at [email protected].

Companies Waste Or Overpay Service Vendors At Least 10% | Blog

Organizations buy services from a wide variety of service providers — ranging from managed services for IT applications and infrastructure, contingent labor to supplement gaps in skills and availability, cloud services, business process services, and more. We at Everest Group looked at the administration of these contractual relationships and discovered that most organizations leave tens of millions of dollars on the table. Why does this happen and what is the answer to this dilemma?

Read my blog on Forbes

The Evolution of Contracting Models in Testing Services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

A large enterprise client recently asked us to confirm whether its belief that the majority of organizations have moved to output- and outcome-based contracting models for testing services was true.

What’s the Reality vs. this Perception?

Our analysis of deals in our extensive database over the last 18 months showed that more than 75 percent of buyers are still contracting for testing services on a fixed price basis. Of those, nearly 50 percent are managed services contracts, where performance is linked to key performance indicators (KPIs.) The other 50 percent are a combination of fixed price and Time and Materials (T&M) contracts. In these types of arrangements, the part of the contract where the scope is clear and well defined is fixed price, and the T&M is for the part of the contract where the requirements are unclear, like testing support during the UAT phase, for change requests, etc.

Market Share for Testing Services

About 10-15 percent of the contracts in our set of deals from the last 18 months are purely T&M contracts where clients ask for specific testing resources.

Only the final remaining 10-15 percent of the contracts are based on output- and outcome- based models.

Deeper Look at Output- and Outcome-Based Contracting Models

While the current percentage of output- and outcome-based models is small – the model is  well-suited for engagements where the majority of work is transactional in nature, the client wants pricing clarity and guarantees, and the service provider has no explicit motivation to improve performance beyond service levels.

In fact, we believe that the transition to these as-a-service models is both critical and inevitable for enterprises with engagements matching these criteria – which exceed 15 percent of our database. Why?

  • They ensure enterprises pay for deliverables, not for time
  • They are more closely tied to enterprises’ business activities, as they provide flexibility and visibility into the expected spend
  • They allow enterprises to remain engaged at a strategic level, without worrying about day-to-day responsibilities
  • Since the pricing is delinked from the underlying number of FTEs, process Improvements are driven by the service provider’s motivation to reduce internal costs and improve margins.

At the same time, output- and outcome-based models pose different types of challenges than other types of contracting options, and enterprises must be prepared to address them to achieve success. For example:

  • Due to their fairly complex structure, these contracting models require sophisticated governance and strong due diligence
  • They are not easily benchmarked, because to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison, the benchmarking exercise needs to normalize for all the underlying environment characteristics
  • In multi-vendor environments where there are more dependencies, moving to output- or outcome-based models may increase costs as providers bake the higher risk into their fees.

In our view, most enterprises going down the output- and outcome-based model path will be best served by phasing in the adoption. Doing so will not only help them reduce risks, but also enable them to appropriately update their systems to process output-based transactions, create and put in place sufficient governance mechanisms for the new contracting regime, etc.

Have you embraced an outcome- or output-based contracting model for your testing services? Are you considering it? Please share your experiences with us at [email protected].

Is a Bigger Shared Services Center (or GIC) Always Better Performing? Maybe Not | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

We recently conducted a deep analysis of the digital maturity of almost 60 shared services centers, (also referred to as GICs) across diverse industries and geographies, and disseminated summary findings through a series of round tables across different Indian cities, including Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Pune. You can read the detailed results in our recently released Digital Maturity in GICs | Pinnacle Model™ Analysis.

Here, I want to focus on a question that recurs in most of our conversations: Does the size of a GIC have any implication on its Pinnacle performance on digital maturity? Note that we define Pinnacle GICs™ as those that achieve superior performance because of their advanced capabilities.

The answer to this question is not as objective as it seems.

Related: Commercial Options for India GIC Setups

Our study revealed that scaled GICs (those with 3,000+ FTEs) have consistently delivered better impact across cost savings, operational KPIs, and even strategic metrics such as contribution to revenue growth. It also showed that small (those with less than 1,000 FTEs) and mid-sized GICs (those with 1,000 – 3,000 FTEs) have demonstrated lower improvement across all business outcomes.

Is a Bigger Shared Services Center or GIC Always Better Performing Maybe Not blog image

Does this Mean that all Scaled GICs are Pinnacle GICs? Not Really

Based on our analysis, less than one-third of scaled GICs have been able to demonstrate Pinnacle performance, while multiple small and mid-sized Pinnacle GICs (~30 percent of the Pinnacle performers) have achieved superior outcomes because of their advanced capabilities.

  • For instance, a multinational conglomerate’s GIC (mid-sized with 1,000-1,500 FTEs) delivered 20-30 percent improvement on operational KPIs such as process agility and SLA compliance. This GIC operates as the global competency center for IT solutions development with end-to-end ownership across the application development lifecycle, thereby allowing it to drive process transformation changes and yield impressive improvements
  • A U.S. food & beverages major’s GIC (also mid-sized, with 1,500-2,000 FTEs) is leveraging pricing analytics to drive competitive advantage for its parent. The GIC developed a competitive intelligence and analytics platform, which allowed the firm to view what its competitors are selling and make recommendations on the necessary price changes to its merchants. This platform is tied to a machine learning engine that dynamically prices their products.

Related: Learn more about Everest Group’s Shared Services Center capabilities

Common Threads across all Pinnacle GICs’ Journeys

We believe it is the triumvirate of the approach to demand creation, strategic focus of the digital strategy, and orientation towards cross-functional collaboration.

Demand Creation

A pull-based approach to demand creation – i.e., a proactive approach to creating Proof of Concepts (POCs) and showcasing capabilities – has not only helped shared services centers secure CXO-level sponsorship, but also increase the existing breadth and depth of services to enable end-to-end process orchestration. For instance, a European BFSI major’s GIC currently operates as the RPA CoE, and champions the end-to-end global RPA program for the enterprise. However, this was not the initial mandate for this shared services center. It proactively started developing POCs, capitalized on visits by onshore C-level executives to showcase their capabilities, and subsequently received buy-in from the parent company. The CoE now operates in a hub and spoke model, wherein the India GIC (hub) provides global governance and drives RPA for Europe through the CEE shared services center (spoke).

Strategic Focus of Digital Strategy

While other GICs solely focus on technology adoption, most Pinnacle GICs focus on using technology to enable operational improvement, which consequentially results in employee and/or customer experience enhancement. With achievement of these objectives, financial benefits – both top-line and bottom-line growth – follow suit automatically. Technology adoption per se needs to be viewed as a means to the end, not the end itself. Pinnacle GICs’ more holistic approach allows them to see both higher chances of success and ROI.

Cross-functional Collaboration

The third – and most underrated – differentiator is the focus on cross-pollination of resources by breaking functional barriers. We believe that a siloed approach to digital enablement will not work, and that shared services centers need to break silos and provide employees with wider exposure to functional roles across the firm. This will not only improve knowledge flow and increase productivity, but also stimulate innovation. For some GICs, creating CoEs for select digital capabilities has significantly enhanced the pace of adoption, and sharing of skills and best practices

All these aspects, along with dedicated enterprise leadership, have enabled Pinnacle GICs to champion organization-wide digital services delivery.

If you’d like insights on how your shared services center stacks up against the competition on the digital maturity front, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].

Insurers and AI InsurTech Partnerships | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Insurers are increasingly investing in AI to enhance the customer experience with automated personalized services, faster claims handling, and individual risk-based underwriting processes by empowering agents, brokers, and employees. Our recently released Insurance IT Services Annual Report 2018 found that more than half of insurers are opting to build in-house AI capabilities through hiring, internal training, hackathons, acquisitions, and partnerships with InsurTech companies, while the rest are turning to IT service providers.

Increased InsurTech Investments

The appetite for change within the insurance industry is certainly there. To make that change happen quickly, insurers have been investing in InsurTechs, firms offering technology innovations designed to squeeze out savings and efficiency from the current insurance industry model, to align data and integrate backend systems. Total InsurTech funding reached US$2.3 billion in 2017, a 36 percent increase from the US$1.7 billion recorded in 2016. In 2016, AI and IoT accounted for almost half of the total investment in InsurTech startups globally.

AI InsurTech investment has increased multi-fold since 2016. Seeking access to talent pools, innovative ideas, high speed, and lower cost of innovation, leading insurers have invested in startups including Betterview, Captricity, CognitiveScale, Lemonade, Mnubo, and Uniphore.

And 2018 appears to be spurring even more investments. Indeed, some of the top insurers have created dedicated venture capital arms – e.g., Allianz Corporate Ventures, MetLife Digital Venture, and XL Innovate – to invest in technologies such as voice biometrics, cognitive virtual assistants, speech analytics, telematics, drone imagery, and machine learning.

Strategic Decisions

Research we conducted on 24 leading insurance firms’ investment model suggested that more than 70 percent of their investments in AI InsurTechs are not just from a funding perspective. Rather, they are entering into partnerships with the InsurTechs as a more strategic decision to fulfill their long-term vision of digitalization.

Insurers and AI InsurTech Partnerships blog - Overview

Significant Impact across Insurers’ Value Chain

  • Process optimization: The majority of the AI InsurTech investments are for automating underwriting policy administration and policy administration, resulting in increased process efficiency. For instance, AXA partnered with TensorFlow to use machine learning to optimize pricing
  • Product innovation: In addition to fixing processes, insurance companies are partnering with InsurTechs to develop new customized policies and pricing, per user demand through usage-based information. For example, in 2018, Munich Re’s HSB Ventures led a US$16.5 million venture financing for Mnubo, an IoT, data analytics, and AI startup, to build tailored financial solutions to improve the company’s business and facilitate new business models
  • Customer experience: AI is making traditional claims processing a thing of the past. Companies are pioneering new cognitive solutions that are making the claims process faster, smarter, and more efficient. For instance, in 2018, GENERALI implemented Expert System’s Cogito® technology to focus on registration and claims processing, and to automate the customer email classification, resulting in a swift and smooth claims process and better customer service.

We believe these partnerships create a win-win situation. They give insurers access to the necessary talent pool, latest technology, innovation, and speed they need to thrive, not just survive. And they provide vital to insurers’ ability to compete, and provide InsurTechs with the guidance, infrastructure, funding, and customer base they need to grow.

If you’d like insights on leading InsurTechs and how they’re changing the insurance industry, please feel free to reach out to [email protected] and [email protected].

Use the right pricing model for third-party services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Which pricing mechanism should your company choose when buying third-party services? What is the optimal contract length? And what is the best way to manage switching costs? These questions are even more important today than in the past because the services industry is switching to new pricing mechanisms for digital services. Understandably, these changes create consternation and confusion for buyers of services.  What comprises service prices? In this post, I’ll explain how pricing works and, hopefully, clear up confusion and help your company make optimal decision.

Read more in my blog on CIO

Trends in Third-Party Service Providers Transitioning To Digital Services | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Third-party service providers are redefining how they compete in the new digital world. The pressure to gain market-leading positions intensifies as the new digital business model threatens to shift market share and upend existing market leaders. At the heart of this new business model is a shift away from labor arbitrage and its FTE pricing to a software-defined model and consumption-based pricing., It’s a new world, and I believe it’s important for companies seeking to buy services to be aware of how of service firms are investing to position themselves for the digital market.

Read more in my blog on Forbes

The CX in CCO has Evolved – How are Pinnacle Enterprises™ Doing it? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

There’s no shortage of market discussion around a wide range of customer experience (CX) opportunities and challenges. It’s what everyone in your organization, from IT, to HR, to actual customer care, are talking about. But while ideas about what you should be trying to achieve and why you should care abound, insight on how to actually execute and what delivery outcomes to target is hard to come by.

Use of CCO Services

One approach drawing attention involves the use of contact center outsourcing (CCO) services. The traditional “butts-in-seats” model is evolving to more of a customer experience management (CXM) service model, where outcomes are assessed for impact as much as for cost management. The traditional view has been that the primary value delivered by CCO providers is operational cost savings through efficiencies, labor arbitrage, and scale. But that’s no longer enough. An increasing number of enterprises are raising the bar and looking to their CCO providers for an expanded value proposition targeting digitally-enabled and differentiated CX capabilities. We refer to this engagement approach as Customer Experience Management (CXM) services.

CX Outsourcing Pinnacle EnterprisesTM

We believe that companies really serious about reshaping their brand through memorable CX are more often turning to this new model of CXM services. We call this breed of buyers CX Outsourcing Pinnacle EnterprisesTM. And we believe these enterprises are very intentionally leveraging these advanced CXM services to enhance their corporate-wide CX strategies, and to achieve results more quickly and at lower costs.

We’ve launched a unique study to dig deep and identify how these Pinnacle Enterprises engage CXM services to drive both operational and strategic imperatives for their overall CX strategy. How can this emerging model help enterprises tackle high-value CX objectives such as digital enablement, greater insights on and visibility into consumer wants and behaviors, increased wallet share, and reduced customer effort? What are the mechanisms in play around technology, governance, talent models, pricing models, and others?

This is an all-around different approach to CXM services – a rethinking of which outcomes to target, what to measure, the role of technology, and the new relationship model.

Curious to know what leading CX Outsourcing Pinnacle Enterprises are doing? Want to know where your organization stands compared to others? Everest Group invites you to become part of the research process and take our survey.

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