Vested Outsourcing Trends Up

I’m often amused by yearly trend lists. For one thing, there’s so many of them in the outsourcing and supply chain sector. With all those trends trending along and multiplying each year, what happens to the previous year’s trends? Or the trends from the year before?

Are they no longer trends? Do they go to the trend graveyard? Maybe they remain trends and just get canceled out, recycled or pushed to the back burner. Pretty soon everything, every idea, is labeled a trend because we need to have them around on a regular basis to talk and write about. But if everything is a trend, like everyone’s five minutes of fame or this year’s must-have fashion, then what’s the real deal?

Perhaps a distinction needs to be made between what is trendy and what is a true, real and long-lasting trend that becomes something more than a buzz word or a paragraph in an annual list, something that actually changes thinking and behavior. Sort of like the distinction between a wanna-be and the real thing.

Vested Outsourcing, I submit, is more than just this year’s trendy flavor. Judging from the way the media is paying attention to its win-win, collaborative approach to credible outsourcing, its transformative power is gaining recognition and momentum. Dare I say the trendy phrase ‘paradigm shift?’ Maybe so.

This enthusiasm is also prompted by an article in Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine this month on the “Six Keys to the Sustainable Supply Chain Advantage,” by Dr. Lowell Yarusso and Ronald J. Sanderson. They examine how to “build an atmosphere of constant improvement in the search for supply chain excellence.” A supply chain, they say, “needs to be viewed as a ‘value chain’ in which all participants are truly integrated and share a common vision of goals, processes and information.” Need I say that’s preaching to the Vested Outsourcing and Five Rules choir, with its special refrains of “What’s in it for We?”

The first key they cite is to “collaborate, don’t compete,” and next one is “remember the goal.”

Just as business processes and people need to be aligned in terms of goals and strategies and operations, “your supply chain partners should be aligned to collaborate and develop ideas for mutual competitive advantage. Suppliers can often be the best source for new ideas on technology, process streamlining, inventory reduction and product design improvements.”

Making this work, they continue, requires different methods of developing incentives and monitoring performance for partners. “Fortunately, there are approaches to joint risk/reward sharing available that can be incorporated into supplier agreements.”

Like agreeing on clearly defined and measurable outcomes, perchance?

Their other four keys also resonate with the vested approach:

  • Recognize the complex, manage the simple. (Insight over oversight, anyone?)
  • Treat the issue, not the symptom. (Focus on the what)
  • Focus on cost drivers and business impacts (Optimize pricing model incentives)
  • Don’t waste an at-bat. (Focus on outcomes)

“At the end of the day, the hardest part of achieving a competitive advantage is sustaining it,” they conclude.

I’d say those are wise words and some interesting correlations from Yarusso and Sanderson. Vested Outsourcing is trending up and setting the pace as the tool to help build an “atmosphere of constant improvement” and collaboration with your outsource partners.

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