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Questioning Outsourcing – Part I

A boss of mine once famously said in an audience of two, how “outsourcing is the new normal“. You have a special, once-in-a-decade project? Outsource it. Do not have in-house expertise? Outsource it. No idea about how to go on about it? Well, again, you may just outsource it.

Outsourcing.jpg

Outsourcing helps an organization keep its immediate costs in check, also while reducing potential future liabilities. You do not have to worry about a lot of other peripheral things too if you outsource the work – medical benefits, salary slips, performance appraisal, and a lot more!

But while you do not worry about these peripheral things and rising employee costs, that also means letting go of certain amount of control that an organization might have to retain so that it has the requisite talent/skill pool for gaining and retaining competitive advantage in a fierce market.

These aspects raise certain pertinent questions:

  1. What do you outsource?
  2. How much do you outsource? Fully or partially?
  3. To whom do you outsource?

There are no correct answers. The answers would change vis-a-vis the context of the business challenge at hand. In this series, we would try to answer the questions and more.

Would love to know your opinion on the above questions. What do you think about them?

Amartya Dey, India

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PMP: Project versus Operations

While both projects and operations are led and executed by “people“, and both add “value” to an organization, projects and operations are two different exercises.

Finish-Start-06-12-11-400x400.jpg

Comic Credit: nickandzuzu.com

  • Projects have a definite beginning and a definite end. A project does not keep on going. There is a start and a finish. Not so with operations. Operations are activities which are ongoing in nature. You complete one cycle to start another. It goes on!

Buss-diss-1.jpg

Picture Credit: www.wgsn.com

  • Ralph Lauren famously said: “You have to create something from nothing.” While projects do not normally entail any demand so dramatic, every project manager has a measurable and unique something to deliver at the end of the project delivery time. For example, a team might be entrusted with the job of coming out with the design of an electric car. There would be a definite time-frame within which the team would be expected to deliver the design – a measurable and unique something. Now this would be a project.
  • Again, once the design and other parameters have been fixed, suppose the company starts manufacturing the electric car after sufficient market research (another project) which show that the endeavour would be profitable. The manufacturing would be an “ongoing” process right. One after the other, the electric cars would be manufactured and sold off. This entire process would come under the ambit of “operations“.

A simple summary:

Project versus Operations.png

More articles on Project Management:

PMP: 3 Must-Haves to be a Great Project Manager

Great project managers are rare, but hey, they are there. And they are valued because they possess the right knowledge, perform efficiently, and marshal their troops  effectively showcasing superior personal skills.

Yes, if you can garner the right amount of the three must-haves listed above, no one can stop you from being a great project manager (PM).

The must-haves are summarised below:

Must haves to be a Great PM.png

 

Business: BCG Growth Share Matrix Part I

In a world with unlimited resources, you would not have to worry about allocation of resources. Well, you would not have to worry about a lot of things – poverty, hunger, strife. War? We cannot say that for sure.

But as we are dealing with limited resources, we can only allot so much to the different priorities in our lives or businesses. And you would want to put money behind the ones that have earned the highest priorities by promising you the highest returns.

BCG Growth Share Matrix helps you make that decision – the decision about behind what endeavor you should allocate what percentage of your total resources. It uses two fairly intelligible dimensions to do that – Relative Market Share of the product which acts as a proxy for the amount of cash it generates for your overall business, and Market Growth Rate of the product which would tell you about the amount of cash the product requires (higher the growth rate, more is the cash required to sustain that growth). Fairly simple, right?

Also, understand this: if the relative market share of one of your products is high, you have earned a competitive advantage for yourself in that product line. Hence, relative market share acts as a proxy for competitive advantage too.

Likewise,  if the market growth rate for another of your product is very high, that means that the product line is attractive as an option to invest. Who doesn’t like growth! Thus, market growth rate acts as a proxy for industry attractiveness. 

Now Bruce Henderson of the Boston Consulting Group considered it wise to bring competitive advantage (proxy:  relative market share) and industry attractiveness (proxy: market growth rate) on the same sheet and provide us with valuable insights.

Lets look at the matrix now:

picture_bcg_matrix

Picture Credit: www.valuebasedmanagement.net

In the follow-up article, we would look in the various aspects of the matrix above – the cash flow, the earnings and the strategy you should take when dealing with cows, dogs, question marks and stars. Till then, we would be better off thinking about what other proxies can we use for both competitive advantage and industry attractiveness?

Post your suggestions in the comments section below!

Amartya Dey, India

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