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Issue of November 2005 

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In favour of outsourcing

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is an emotional as well as a political issue. It represents different things to different people and to different countries. Large MNCs equate BPO with cost effectiveness and business benefits, while the workforce associates it with job losses and layoffs. It has snowballed into a political issue. Governments of countries like the US and Britain claim that BPO not only takes away the jobs from their citizens but also create security issues by offshoring important and sensitive business and other data. For the third world countries like India, China and Philippines, the BPO industry has become a major source of income for its educated class and at the same time brings valuable foreign exchange to the country.

The Black Book of Outsourcing by Douglas Brown and Scott Wilson is a practical guide that gives the necessary information to manage the changes and challenges faced by white-collar workforce of developed countries. It also shows the positive aspects of outsourcing and its overall theme is that even for the developed countries like the USA, outsourcing is good for the economy in the long run.

The language of the book is simple and well paced. It is targeted at a large audience base. This includes the corporate executives who are looking to buy outsourcing services and are in search of proper outsourcing vendors. Secondly, the BPO entrepreneurs who want to establish their own outsourcing firms. It also targets the white-collar job seekers, especially those who have been displaced by the outsourcing phenomena. It guides them how to launch a new career and find a proper job in the new global economy.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part focusses on how to plan, lead and manage the outsourcing initiatives. It educates the reader on the myths about outsourcing, which it claims are based on fear, misinformation and conflicting information. It then reveals the startling truth by claiming that outsourcing is not a threat to the US and European economies, but an opportunity to improve productivity and bring in prosperity. It also warns that if the alarmists are allowed to get away with their misinformation then this opportunity will be squandered.

Title : The Black Book of Outsourcing—how to manage the changes, challenges and the opportunities
Author : Douglas Brown and Scott Wilson
Publisher : John Wiley and Sons Inc
Price : Rs 1,390

Entire chapters are dedicated to important aspects like assessing cost, benefits and risks for the outsourcing venture. It also has a chapter on outsourcing options, selecting suppliers and vendors, conducting negotiations and making outsourcing contracts. The book carries an exhaustive 50 plus page vendors’ directory to find top outsourcers and a guide on how to avoid common outsourcing mistakes.

The second part of the book focusses on job seekers. It provides the know-how and strategies for success in the new global economy. It teaches them how to market themselves, what are the hot jobs in outsourcing and how to actually find an outsourcing or offshore job. This includes a huge list of outsourcing resources available on the Web.

The third part of the book favours the brave who dare to charge down the entrepreneurial path to outsourcing. It also provides practical tips about how to capitalise on the outsourcing start-up boom and how to start and manage the outsourcing business.

Although the book is for the global audience, many of its tips are relevant for the Indian audience as well. In essence, it gives a convincing argument in favour of outsourcing. It reinforces the arguments with facts and figures and goes on to claim that outsourcing is the best thing that has ever happened to the western world since the industrial revolution.

It makes business sense to outsource the work, which the company is not efficient at or which is too costly or beyond the control management. So the company can focus on its core strengths and have a tight control on the outsourced processes at the same time. Consequently, companies will be able to provide better performance and quality at a lower cost. This, in turn, will lower the cost of goods and services for people around the world and at the same time raise the standards of living in low wage countries. This will allow the Americans and Europeans to have surplus money, which they can spend on buying and creating new products and services. Hence, a win-win situation for all.

— Kumar Dawada

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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