Outsource consultancy: it has a potentially positive role to play but it needs to evolve.

Outsource consultancy plays such an important and influential role across all sectors and industries but it has, at times, created an unhealthy dynamic which has allowed for very small consultancies to dictate to large, corporate players. It is a naturally uneasy dynamic which is bound to create tensions.

It is no secret that often consultancy has been more controversial than it should be as it can play such a positive role. Too often there have been frustrations caused by the inevitable trade-offs which take place as operators seek to secure new contracts – cost savings v service; control v lack of transparency; speed v quality; KPIs v innovation. There has long been a frustration which sits at the base between operators, consultants and clients.

Today the landscape is more complex and is asking new questions to all. Consider the impact of the cost of living crisis, the lack of talent, and the challenge in reimaging modern workplaces and places of learning. This naturally means that consultants have the opportunity to play a more influential role and more positive role if they can take it?

Many organisations are asking for new perspectives to be brought to the table, new ideas and new thinking. This will challenge many and also provide opportunity.
There is a growing belief that the pandemic has seen this change already take place as more are now being brought together to solve the inevitable problems which have resulted by the slow return to work. Although many argue that their revenue figures are back to 80% levels (against 2019 figures), the reality is that numbers are back to 40% audience levels with more invested, and higher prices. There is a lot of work to be done from all asides in order to ensure stronger services.

It cannot be under-estimated at the level of operational challenges which have been presented and endured. It has been remarkably difficult and all together it needs a more open, collaborative approach. Consultants do have an important, influential role to play.

Logic says that outsourcing should see a stronger focus, most especially if a recession does present itself. It will understandably ask new questions of consultants who need to play a meaningful role in ensuring both strategic and operational flexibility as organisations navigate their way through the return to work. It is too easy to critique operators in these challenging moments.

So much has changed which sits outside the influence of companies and operators. Technology has changed the way people live and work. This naturally will demand new ideas and for all to work together far better, to share knowledge so that stronger services can be created which in turn attract more and more people.

Companies, of course, will look towards the major competitive advantages which can be gained from outsourcing. They will highlight the importance of disciplines such as logistics, supply chain, customer support and service, research & development, and human resource management; all areas where outsource companies are masters in their disciplines. They will also note the growing importance of collaboration to share knowledge and ideas, to create new ideas for the workplace.

This is more challenging as all are working through new solutions, what can work and what does not. This requires openness and flexibility from all sides. It need all to work as a unit.

Outsourcing is, of course, well-established. It is a mature business strategy and evolving all the time to deliver value beyond just cost savings. However, it has not been all perfect. This is well known but this moment in time could offer an opportunity for stronger solutions to be found but it will mean that all evolve and be more collaborative. No one has all the answers so it will be about how to bring knowledge together.