Can the outsourcing boom go on indefinitely? And is the practice as useful as its advocates claim, or is the popular suspicion that it leads to cut corners and dismal service correct? There are signs that outsourcing often goes wrong, and that companies are rethinking their approach to it.
The latest TPI quarterly index of outsourcing (which measures commercial contracts of $25m or more) suggests that the total value of such contracts for the second quarter of 2011 fell by 18 percent compared with the second quarter of 2010. Dismal figures in the Americas (i.e., mostly the United States) dragged down the average: the value of contracts there was 50 percent lower in the second quarter of 2011 than in the first half of 2010. This is partly explained by America's gloomy economy, but even more by the maturity of the market: TPI suspects that much of what can sensibly be outsourced already has been.
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