Outsourcing is the business practice of hiring a party outside a company to perform services or create goods that were traditionally performed in-house by the company’s own employees and staff. Outsourcing is a practice usually undertaken by companies as a cost-cutting measure. As such, it can affect a wide range of jobs, ranging from customer support to manufacturing to the back office.
Outsourcing was first recognized as a business strategy in 1989 and became an integral part of business economics throughout the 1990s.
The practice of outsourcing is subject to considerable controversy in many countries. Those opposed argue that it has caused the loss of domestic jobs, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Supporters say it creates an incentive for businesses and companies to allocate resources where they are most effective, and that outsourcing helps maintain the nature of free-market economies on a global scale.
Companies use outsourcing to cut labour costs, including salaries for their personnel, overhead, equipment, and technology. Outsourcing is also used by companies to dial down and focus on the core aspects of the business, spinning off the less critical operations to outside organizations.
On the downside, communication between the company and outside providers can be hard, and security threats can amp up when multiple parties can access sensitive data. Some companies will outsource as a way to move things around on the balance sheet.
Outsourcing can help businesses reduce labour costs significantly. When a company uses outsourcing, it enlists the help of outside organizations not affiliated with the company to complete certain tasks. The outside organizations typically set up different compensation structures with their employees than the outsourcing company, enabling them to complete the work for less money. This ultimately enables the company that chose to outsource to lower its labour costs.
Businesses can also avoid expenses associated with overhead, equipment, and technology.
In addition to cost savings, companies can employ an outsourcing strategy to better focus on the core aspects of the business. Outsourcing non-core activities can improve efficiency and productivity because another entity performs these smaller tasks better than the firm itself. This strategy may also lead to faster turnaround times, increased competitiveness within an industry, and the cutting of overall operational costs.