Outsourcing Europe

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The NOA attended the launch of the European Outsourcing Association’s Spanish chapter this week, EOA Espaňa.

Hosted in Madrid by Repsol, the Spanish oil company, the meeting marks a new chapter in the story of outsourcing Europe and globalisation as a whole. The NOA is proud to be a part of this ongoing narrative, having been around for over 22 years now.

The reason why this is such an exciting occasion is that the launch is part of something bigger – a signal of the coming together of the EOA’s separate chapters, that have been operating in relative isolation until now. The launch is a signal of much greater future collaboration between countries as the practice of outsourcing, nearshoring and offshoring takes hold in Europe.

The most interesting thing in bringing these countries together is finding out more about the differing approaches to outsourcing and the relative maturity of their individual markets. The fact is that Spain, and France – the EOA Vice-President was in attendance at the meeting – still have relatively less mature outsourcing markets than the UK.

Indeed, many are reluctant to encourage the relatively open, collaboration-rich environment the NOA tries to create in the UK for example through best practice awards and the promotion of new outsourcing ideas. The reason for this appears to be a lack of past experience of outsourcing and worry about invoking the ire of the media and the public in general.

There is also less knowledge of best practice and a general lack of experience in the process of outsourcing. The efficiencies demanded by the recession mean that Spain, France and other European countries will need to get up to speed with outsourcing practice. And, while there are some notable pioneers succeeding within and outside Spain, it’s clear the timing is just right for EOA Spain, and the EOA in general, to really take off.

And this is an interesting perspective for a Brit There is a tendency in the UK to imagine we have it rough when it comes to outsourcing. The truth is however, that the maturity of UK outsourcing and offshoring is something we shouldn’t take for granted.

The enlightened, who operate on the front-line of business, understand the merits of outsourcing on both a micro and macro-economic level. And, while the media maintains its vendetta against all things outsourcing, we are definitely a lot further down the ‘line of acceptance’ with the concept of globalisation than mainland Europe.

Outsourcing, when done well, is accepted (in fact usually not noticed), and so is offshoring, again when implemented with a deft touch. Though, when it goes wrong, failure is rightly shown up for what it is in a very public way. We are clearly very lucky for our hard-fought sourcing freedom while much of Europe has still to face these challenges.

As we stand on the (possible) brink of economic recovery for the UK private sector, it is vital that the failures of protectionism are recognised across Europe and the rest of the world.

When we stop lending, spending and generally working with others organisations to succeed, things just grind to a frustrating and catastrophic halt. We are making a stand as an association and hope the expansion of the EOA will help the message spread more and more across Europe.

The company of the future should have no qualms about outsourcing and see no boundaries on the map of world skills. As the wheels of the economy slowly jump back into life, companies must re-recognise these realities as they start to recover and work out what it takes to succeed in the 21st Century.

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