As the economy worsens, the prospects for outsourcing and offshoring improve. Throughout 2008, the key word for the economy was “uncertainty”. While facing uncertainty, CIOs avoided signifi cant changes to internal organisations or operations including evaluating or implementing outsourcing. Most outsourcing initiatives are driven by a strong need for change and “economic uncertainty” hindered that need.
Into 2009, two changes are taking place. First, CIOs are making cuts to projects and programs, including those staffed by outsourcing firms. Second, beginning this year, IT organisations will pursue outsourcing as a method to reduce costs.
As CIOs mandate immediate program cuts, some will inevitably impact existing outsourcing agreements. The software development services market, including globalisation, will feel the majority of the impact as discretionary projects are cut. At the same time, customers with infrastructure contracts indicate that they are already increasing pressure on existing providers. For companies that have outsourced a majority of their infrastructure, the outsourcing provider is one of the few place to look for potential cost reductions. Financial analysts will continue the “doomsday” forecast for outsourcing providers as they see reductions to current contracts as a foreboding omen to industry growth.
Near term, clients and providers alike are agreeing to reduce prices, resulting in short-term price deflation. Large clients are under pressure to reduce costs; large vendors are under pressure to sign contracts. Even the largest offshore providers are reportedly agreeing to lower prices with select clients.
Evaluating outsourcing requires 3-9 months for an IT organisation. The company begins to consider outsourcing as an option, determine services to outsource, and finally evaluate providers. Given the length of this process, changes will not appear in provider financials before March, even for clients that are already beginning to consider new outsourcing initiatives.
Moreover, cost savings from outsourcing are not immediate. While simple contracts such as staff augmentation can realise savings within a few weeks, financial benefits from complex projects can take six months or more. CIOs embarking on outsourcing evaluations are cognisant of the time required for financial returns and usually align projects with internal budget cycles, meaning they expect to show results during the same calendar year.
Market changes will appear to reduce outsourcing, but within 3-4 months, outsourcing providers will report an increase in sales channel activity and resume announcing new contracts. Globalisation companies will benefit the most, but the impact will include all outsourcing services and hybrid solutions such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) as well. As the market recovers, service providers will return to their core business of delivering services and reducing costs mandated by CIOs.