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Becoming Resourceful During Outsourcing Initiatives

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Post Becoming Resourceful During Outsourcing Initiatives   Sat Aug 13, 2011 8:49 am


In the 1957 classic movie "Desk Set," the technology revolution begins. The story's setting is at the "Federal Broadcasting Network." Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) is responsible for researching and answering questions at the organization's library. With a merger pending, the company looks to automation. In fact, the organization has ordered two computers called "Electronic Brains." Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy), the computer inventor, is brought into the network in order to phase out the library functions in lieu of human staff. Bunny Watson fights to demonstrate the value of her human existence.

In a hypercompetitive environment, many businesses are outsourcing major functions rather than performing them in-house. Since 2000, over 3 million U.S. jobs in the manufacturing sector have been moved abroad to countries like China, India, and Korea. Yet, few executives worry about the aftermath of outsourcing initiatives. The remaining workers are shell shocked and stressed since they are required to do the work of the laid-off workforce. Sadly, many supervisors feel that these workers should be happy to have a job. Today's businesses have built elaborate systems for better efficiency and effectiveness. Of course, they are driven by the quest for increasing profitability.

Robert Jacobs, Richard Chase, and Nicholas Aquilano, authors of Operations & Supply Management, suggest that operations management has been a key element in productivity improvement in businesses across the world. Most often, the executive focus is on the major expense to operate - labor. It's a simple equation: productivity equals outputs divided by inputs. If organizations can reduce their inputs for their operations, they can increase output (more profit). Therefore, companies seek to reduce their inputs to obtain more profitability. Two chief strategies are to outsource non-core functions abroad or add new technologies to generate new efficiencies. These strategies are aimed at reducing labor costs - primarily, people.

Value Solution

Today's professionals always need to provide value for their employers and customers. In tough times, organizations want to keep their best people. Gareth Jones and Jennifer George, authors of Contemporary Management, maintain that one of the most important resources in all organizations is the human capital component. Value is defined as the net bundle of benefits the customer derives from a product or service. Professionals need to keep in mind the value proposition that they are offering to others. In fact, this concept speaks to an individual's worth, thereby showing the importance of value creation.

Making one's self indispensible in the organization may include (a) acquiring unique skill sets (i.e., learning a foreign language needed for work abroad), (b) taking on responsibilities that no one else wants, (c) holding special certifications and professional licenses, (d) taking care of special details and assignments, (e) networking with key industry decision-makers at work and off duty (i.e., chamber of commerce), and (f) taking additional courses and training. Given the value concept, professionals operate strategically, looking beyond the horizon instead of operating in crisis mode. Therefore, creating value for internal and external customers presents the professional with a competitive advantage, even in a global market.


With the onslaught of more global competitors, many businesses look to outsourcing as a viable option for survival. This reality leaves many professionals worried about whether or not they will have a job tomorrow. In fact, some people wonder if American businesses cannot compete in manufacturing and other high-tech industries, will they forever forgo the Great American Dream for the next generation of workers.

Yet, resourceful professionals understand that where there is chaos, there is opportunity. The key is always focusing on the future and finding ways to be invaluable to both internal and external customers. By making their value proposition clear to all constituencies, professionals are more in control of sustainable results, thereby hedging their bets

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