It's been a hectic week. Not only are we approaching our year-end, with all the usual buzz of activity surrounding this event, but we have significant levels of sales activity happening at the moment. Final presentations to prospective clients, hosting visits to our facilities in India, bids and proposals being worked on - all of which is, of course, excellent news and shows the level of interest in the marketplace to what we have to offer in the outsourcing and technology fields.
(It does mean that I've been a bit tardy writing this blog though...)
Research that Nelson Hall have just carried out pointed to the apparent appetite from retailers for outsourcing - some 42% of retailers, the highest of any sector surveyed - are considering outsourcing their back office finance and accounting (F&A) functions in order to help margin improvement. But so far this doesn't seem to have materialised.
Which is strange when you consider the potential that improving or removing what are, in reality, 'non-core' activities could have on freeing up time and money for selling and serving customers. When you then extend this to other central processes - invoice imaging, process workflow, query management systems for handling supplier, store and buyer queries - then even greater opportunities exist for improvements in financial control as well as saving fixed costs.
Retailers have long been practitioners in outsourcing - security, store maintenance, distribution, fleet management and so on, but seem to be slow at looking to other back office functions. Keep a look out for the British Retail Consortium's magazine for April as they are penning an interesting article on this very topic which will cover the onshore/offshore debate, how to plan and manage an outsource, what to outsource and what to keep 'at home', and how long term relationships with sourcing providers are created.