Your customer should ultimately be the focus of any insourcing and outsourcing decision you make. After all, unless the product gets recycled, the customer is the last link in the supply chain. Not all customers have the same product and service requirements, though. It might be acceptable for a company that sells PCs to individual consumers to outsource its tech support, perhaps to a firm in India that can perform the function at lower cost. However, a company that buys an expensive, customized computer network is probably going to want to deal directly with the maker of the product if the network goes down—not another company in another country.
Similarly, if you’re producing an expensive car for Ferrari-type buyers, purchasing bargain-basement-priced parts could leave your customers dissatisfied—especially if the parts fail and their cars break down. Conversely, if you’re designing a low-end automobile, top-of-the-line parts could make it too expensive for low-end buyers. High-end car buyers are likely to demand better after-sales service than low-end car buyers, too.
Sourcing is the process of evaluating and hiring individual businesses to supply goods and services to your business. Procurement is the process of actually purchasing those goods and services. Sourcing and procurement have become a bigger part of a supply manager’s job in recent years, in part because businesses keep becoming more specialized. Companies outsource activities to lower their costs to focus on the activities they do best. Companies face numerous tradeoffs when they outsource activities, which can include a loss of control and product-quality and safety problems. When firms that can’t resolve their supplier problems, they find other suppliers to work with or they move the activities back in-house, which is a process called insourcing. Customer should be the focus of any insourcing and outsourcing decisions companies make.
- What are some of the supply chain functions firms outsource and offshore?
- How does outsourcing differ from offshoring?
- Why might a company be better off insourcing an activity?