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Outsourcing works for UK economy

When firms are thinking of outsourcing, one of the first places they turn to is the National Outsourcing Association (NOA). We are the independent, not-for-profit body with a remit to help anyone wanting to make outsourcing work.

NOA offers qualifications accredited by Middlesex University which cover a wide variety of outsourcing management roles and our research is vital reading for anyone wanting to keep abreast of what is happening in the industry. Among our most important offerings is the NOA Life Cycle model, which provides a practical framework for firms going through the outsourcing process.

Our latest challenge is tackling the misunderstandings around outsourcing. When the NOA formed in 1987, outsourcing was at the cusp of being recognised as a key operational strategy. The earlier outsourcing practices were largely limited to local suppliers and contractors – this is still the major part of our industry, but as far as the public is concerned, this seems to have been forgotten. Outsourcing’s image these days is synonymous with offshoring, as our recent study into The Public Perception of Outsourcing showed. 

The Public Perception of Outsourcing is the first wave of research in the NOA’s flagship campaign for 2012/13: Outsourcing Works. The next step is a study that will quantify the business and macro-economic benefits of sending work out. Outsourcing is a major contributor to UK PLC, weighing in with nearly 10 per cent of GDP, yet it is the unsung hero, often maligned, largely misunderstood. When its goes wrong, it’s national news – when it goes right, it’s ignored. Outsourcing works. Our industry needs to unite to champion our successes.

For as many projects out there that are gaining negative media attention, there is an abundance of contracts that are improving services, saving public sector money and genuinely ameliorating business prospects. I for one am eagerly waiting to see who wins the new Outsourcing Works Award at the NOA Awards (in association with Wipro) coming up in October. Kudos will go to the entry that demonstrates the most tangible benefits against the original business case, highlighting the real difference that outsourcing can make when done right.

Newspapers have long been full of UK manufacturing’s decline. Offshoring has had its part to play in that and, for companies doing large production runs, that will always remain a strategic option that’s impossible to ignore with global competition. But manufacturing is not what we’re all about. It is imperative we get everyone to realise that not all offshoring is outsourcing, not all outsourcing is offshoring.

In addition to the excellent work going on offshore, more work is needed onshore. The NOA is working to redefine what outsourcing means in the hearts and minds of the public, and make sure we, as a nation, do all we can to promote the UK as a destination to offshore to. 

“Our-shoring” is a key element of the Outsourcing Works campaign and aims to drive onshore investment in our sector – reinforcing the fact that outsourcing is a coming force that can help create jobs in the UK.

Additionally, the UK is certainly well placed to become the international strategic hub for outsourcing.  Our aim is to preserve the UK’s competitive edge, keep jobs and bring more in. We have the skills and the knowledge and, as well as that, other supplementary factors are perfectly aligned. In terms of time zones, manageable commuting distances and access to major finance markets, the UK is ideally situated to ensure outsourcing works for us all.