When is a “Hybrid” Sourcing Model not a Hybrid? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

During a panel on which I participated at the recent Shared Services and Outsourcing Week conference in Orlando, the topic of “hybrid models” came up again. Most of the market bandying about the term were illustrating their, or their clients’, “sophisticated” mix of outsourcing and captive shared services, when in reality – with all due respect – they were actually describing a non-complementary mish mash of uncoordinated legacy delivery model decisions made across business units, operating entities, etc.

If we are to get any tangible – and extra – value from hybrid model, we need to get real about what creates that value. Further, a hybrid is not appropriate for every process or function.

What is a real hybrid sourcing model? Let’s look at automobiles as an analogy. You may have an electric motor-run Chevy Volt and a gas-powered Honda Civic in your garage, but that only means you have two different types of cars that get you to your desired destination using different power sources. On the other hand, the hybrid Toyota Prius uses both gas and electricity, switching back and forth between the two power sources as needed to achieve optimum efficiency, performance and cost savings (and, of course, to be kind to the environment.)

By extension, true hybrid sourcing combines the strengths of outsourcing and captive shared services into a single model designed to capture added value – e.g., delivery speed and flexibility, operational resiliency and investment leverage – not available, or not as easily attainable, when integration of the above two delivery models is lacking.

Against that description, I encourage you to step back and ask yourself, “Is the services delivery model in use within my organization really a hybrid, or did I, or my service provider, simply rebadge it with the provocative, sophisticated-sounding hybrid moniker?”

Of course, the name you ascribe to your delivery model isn’t of much consequence. But it is critically important to determine whether or not a hybrid model is appropriate and advantageous for your organization, as there are times when separate outsourcing and captive shared services models are a better fit. Key indicators that hybrid is right for you include: 1) if there is a service delivery platform that can be shared and re-leveraged; and 2) if a given process is prone to volume and budget changes.

So…is your delivery model really a Prius? Should it be?

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