Advice For The (Outsourcing & Offshoring) Young At Heart

Posted: 03/30/2016 - 22:15

‘Advice For The Offshoring And Outsourcing Young At Heart’
by Fear of Gears[1]

Advice for the outsourcing young at heart
Soon we will be older
How are we going to make it work?[2]

Too many vendors living in a secret world
While they play movers and shakers,
We play digital in a whirl.[3]

How are we going to make it work?[4]

I could be happy; I could be quite naïve
Just labour arbitrage in my shadow, happy in a make-believe[5]


With robot hounds at bay,
I call your bluff
Because it wouldn’t be okay
To walk on tiptoes everyday[6]

And when I think of you and SLAs are due
I’ll make a promise, I’ll make a stand[7]
Because to the big Board’s eyes, it should come as no surprise
We got the mobile web in our hands[8]

Advice for the outsourcing young at heart
Soon we will be older
How are we going to make it work?

Efficiency’s a promise, innovation’s a souvenir
Once written, never forgotten, never let it disappear[9]
RPA could be our last chance
How are we going to make it work?[10]

Working-hour billing is over.[11]

And how it makes me weep
Because BPO set my soul to sleep[12]

And when I think of you and SLAs are due
I’ll make a promise, I’ll make a stand
Because to Big Data’s eyes, SaaS comes as no surprise
We got the mobile cloud in our hands[13]

Advice for the outsourcing young at heart
Soon you will be older
When are you going to make it work?[14]

Advice for the outsourcing young at heart
Soon we will be older
How are we going to make it work?

Working-hour billing is over.

We can be anything that we want
Anything, if we apply design thinking….[15]



  1. 1980s-formed English pop/rock band known for neo-Luddite beliefs and an anti-automation political and economic stance, as expressed in new wave songs. Quoted in recent interviews fearing AI and robotic process automation (RPA) taking over human jobs, including songwriting.
  2. An imploration to outsourcing professionals who are yet unjaded and untainted by easy, greedy labour-arbitrage margins, to shape up and implement and operationalise newer, more sustainable As-a-Service models, as they (outsourcing pros and new business models) both become mature.
  3. As legacy vendors saunter around with their fat contracts, hiding productivity gains from big-name clients, nimbler providers are gaining expertise in mobile and digital technologies and finding ways to integrate these technologies into their service offerings, with less dependence on FTE cost arbitrage.
  4. An existential refrain for next-generation outsourcing and offshoring leaders: what exactly are they going to do with these new models and technologies in order to stay relevant?
  5. Believing that the legacy labour-arbitrage outsourcing model is going to last in the long run is, at best, naïve (but more likely delusional).
  6. Surveys show that many service providers and buy-side organisations, simply put, have no clue what RPA is, much less how to make it work, even though the buzzword has been flying around in sourcing circles for years already. Providers, in a sense, have some reprieve. For now, they are able to tiptoe around the RPA topic before clients begin demanding some form of it in their service contracts, otherwise they’ll engage with providers who can integrate it.
  7. Service-level agreements (SLAs) are nothing more than a promise of guaranteed results. Reporting them to clients in an accurate and relevant manner, however, sometimes takes a moral conviction from providers.
  8. They shouldn’t be, but many boards are slow to realise the significance of mobility in their businesses, including their outsourcing contracts.
  9. Almost all outsourcing contracts have some clause about a guaranteed level of efficiency (lower cost, faster processing, larger transaction volume, etc.). Incremental process improvement is already a given. There are a fewer number of contracts with some form of measurement for real innovation (I’ve seen some that are as clunky as “number of innovation ideas submitted during the Quarterly Business Review”). Just the same, once these efficiency or innovation clauses are written and signed, both providers and clients need to uphold and enforce them.
  10. Some providers believe that robotic process automation is their last chance to stay relevant, but many of them do not have the expertise to execute it.
  11. The hourly billing model (charging clients only for hours that could be directly traced to very specific in-scope transactions — such as calls or ticket resolution, sans breaks, planning time, and creative-thinking time) whose margins come largely from labour cost-arbitrage, will increasingly lose relevance.
  12. The sad reality of business process outsourcing (BPO) is that, when done improperly, it becomes dehumanising. Mindless transactional tasks, micro-management, big brother-type monitoring, robot-like treatment — these are all too common reasons for BPO worker disillusionment. RPA, then, becomes a catch-22: do we continue treating people like robots, or do we just replace them altogether with real robots?
  13. Big data, SaaS, mobile, cloud: why are these still a surprise to some people?
  14. The question is no longer an “if” but a “when and how.”
  15. Very smart industry analysts believe that the key to thriving in the “As-a-Service” world is Design Thinking — generating human-centric outcomes by creatively and iteratively building and testing solutions to vaguely defined “wicked problems.”

About The Author

Jay Manahan would like to think he’s the Jack Black of Philippine outsourcing, but he’s not. He’s just a Gen X’er who wants to do more content marketing and business development and who gives advice for the outsourcing & offshoring young at heart via