Wiktor Doktór: Congratulations! Kerry, you have just did a significant change of image in your association. NOA (National Outsourcing Association) has become GSA UK. I must say I was a little bit shocked, surprised but at the end impressed with this change. Why did you decide to replace NOA with GSA UK?
Kerry Hallard: We are delighted with the rebrand and have received numerous compliments about how fresh ou new logo looks and what a sensible progression it was – of the brand and for the association. This is a global industry and the words National (pertaining to British in our case) and also European were actually falsely describing our work and potentially limiting our reach, as was the word “outsourcing”. The rebrand was something we had been planning internally for well over a year and we included our membership base in its development. Also, there was always some confusion on the relationship between the NOA and EOA, with many rightly wondering why the NOA was not called the EOA UK. Obviously there is great heritage (30 years) in the NOA brand, but the time was right to rebrand both orgnisations and to portray a more globally integrated brand and integrated organisation working to one common view of industry best practice. The Global Sourcing Association (GSA) has a number of chapters and partners around the world. The NOA is now known as GSA UK. We coincided our rebrand with the launch of the Global Sourcing Standard – a world first for the sourcing industry, a standard which unifies buyers and service providers and works across all aspects of sourcing: outsourcing, shared services, GBS, automation and insourcing.
WD: UK as probably none of other European Countries has already nearly 30 years of outsourcing history. How didoutsourcing start in UK and what is the GSA UK role in this sector?
KH: The NOA started life in 1987 as the Network Outsourcing Association. It was founded by major buyers to include British Telecom and British Rail who were grappling with how best to procure and manage their outsourced communications networks. Buyers would come together in the evenings and discuss issues and ideas in a Central London pub. Over time the providers were invited to join these discussions to contribute their ideas and respond to questions. This evolved into an industry association focused on all types of outsourcing and then all types of sourcing, bringing together all parties involved in the outsourcing equation. The GSA UK served as the industry association, offering events for networking and sharing best practice, as well as lobbying Government. In the last 10 years it moved on to focus on professionalising the industry, with qualifications and now a global standard, as in the UK, outsourcing has been very much an accidental profession – something people found themselves working in due to TUPE transfers, rather than a career of choice – until now that is! Our focus today remains to grow the positive reputation and therefore reach of the global sourcing industry by accrediting the orgnisations and individuals working within it.
WD: There are a number of various outsourcing organizations Worldwide, what is very beneficial for the industry on the local levels. GSA UK is a part of something bigger – the Global Sourcing Association. What are the relations between those two organizations and what are the unique business opportunities GSA can offer to outsourcing companies?
KH: Outsourcing is by its very nature a global industry and it’s huge (it’s the second largest employer in the UK with over 2 million people working in some form of outsourcing), yet it’s been an industry without any standards. The GSA was approached by a number of its buy-side members saying they were running numerous large outsourcing arrangements across a number of service providers, all of whom were stating they worked to best practice, but all working to a diffferent version of best practice. They requested we developed a consolidated industry view of best practice. We responded with the development of a Lifecycle Model which has been reviewed and refined by over 200 unique organisations. Our buyer members then wanted to understand how well they were performing to this best practice which is when we developed our corproate accreditation programme, effectively reviewing a company’s outsourcing performance, highlighting areas of strength and weakness against the lifecycle model and accrediting those who were working to best practice. Buyers were achieving great benefits in cost savings and efficiency improvements from the corporate accreditation programme and so requested that we evolved the accreditation so their service providers could also be accredited and ensure they were working to the same best practice – in the UK and globally. This led to the development of the Global Sourcing Standard – a unified view of sourcing best practice that buyers and service providers can be accredited to globally. The Global Sourcing Standard is governed and revised by a Standards Advisory Group which has representatives on board from over 25 countries. But it’s more than a standard, it’s an approach to sourcing excellence and is underpinned by a competences and capabilities framework to ensure individuals have the skills to adhere to evolving best practice. Accredited companies on the buy-side can demonstrate to their stakeholders that they are governing their sourcing arrangements to best effect. Accredited service providers have a competitive advantage as they can demonsrate to their clients that they work to the global standard. Over time, we believe the standard will become a prerequisite for RFPs.
WD: As GSA you are running a number of education and networking projects. What are your key workshopsand events you run during the year?
KH: We run a full programme of informative and educational events, in part driven by our member-elected Council, which are free to attend for members. The subject matter is very diverse and focuses on best practice in topics ranging from governance and transparency in contracting, service integration and relationship management, to next practice topics like understanding and implementing robotics, being cybersecure and other ‘future skills’ like design thinking. In the UK alone we run over 40 events in a range of formats: SIGs, roundtables, seminars, networking evenings, Summits, etc. We also run two Awards programmes each year in the UK, and one in Europe. These aim to recognise and celebrate the individual efforts in sourcing excellence, as well as team, organisations and partnerships. In additon we have an annual UK Symposium in June and a Global Leadership Summit in October, which are two full days crammed with buyer-led case studies, practitioner best practice and thought leadership around all the critical subjects one would need to know in order to make informed decisions about future sourcing strategies. This year we have also introduced a full-day programme specifically for the UK Public Sector (local and central government departments who use outsourcing), another full-day event aimed at the Banking, Financial Services and the Insurance sector, a Women in Sourcing initiative focusing on social inclusion, the Sourcing A-List which recognises the most prominent global influencers and thought leaders in the industry and of course our first ever sourcing European Hackathon for charity. All of these events were free, and also open to non-members.
WD: You have recently run the interesting conference in Sofia. A number of companies were awarded over there. Can you share more information about your awards program, please? What do companies need to do, to get the award?
KH: This year we had 18 Award categories, again all of which are focused on recognising the very best in sourcing delivery, partnerships or innovation in the industry across Europe. Each individual category has its own specific criteria and submissions are word-based, but all are assessed broadly against submitted evidence of strategy, partnership approach, benefits realisation, best practice and governance, and innovation. The judging panel included leaders from outsourcing associations and major buyers across the world including USA, China, Russia, Spain and Poland.
WD: Due to Brexit there are a number of theories but also expectations. Do you think UK will become more openfor nearshoring and offshoring projects once Brexit will become the fact? Is Brexit an opportunity or rather risk for local outsourcing providers?
KH: I hate to sit on the fence, but it’s hard not to on the subject of Brexit as so many factors remain unknown. We have however seen outsourcing deals increase since the Referendum and this, I believe, is due to the fact that buyers perceive less risk in outsourcing to a service provider than making their own capital investments at this juncture. We have seen India be very bullish in the space, but I believe there are great opportunities for the CEE region too. At the end of the day the UK doesn’t have enough skilled workers as it is and we may witness an exodus when Brexit actually happens, which will leave many companies needing to seek workers overseas. Given the skilled pool of workers in the CEE region, the area is likely to be a net winner. Though of course some sectors will face challenges, such as passporting in financial services and the impact of the European Open Skies Agreement for the airline industry.
WD: We like to ask about possible trends in outsourcing industry. What do you think next 12 months will bring to global outsourcing world – is it RPA (Robotics Process Automation), which is spoken on nearly every business event or something else what will drive the outsourcing industry in coming months?
KH: Brexit aside….RPA and AI will continue to be hot topics, but conversations are already moving on to how best to manage, ethically, the digital workforce and drive the digital enterprise. I know Goverrnment agencies are looking at taxes on the use of Bots, to replace revenue lost through income tax. Customer centricity and big data will continue as key topics, as will cloud and IoT. FinTech players are getting a lot of attention as they unveil amazing new digital solutions that are real game changers for the industry. This will spread as digital gathers electrifying momentum. Cyber security will correspondingly increase in focus too. We are predicting strong focus on “OneOffice™” – this is a concept from HfSResearch focused on back and front office converging to deliver the ultimate digital customer experience. And everything will be about new and evolving on-demand service models as legacy gets further consigned to the past. The sourcing industry continues to change at alarming speed across outsourcing shared services, GBS and also, moreso now than before across insourcing. Governance is evolving and will of course remain key.
WD: Thank you very much.