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Business Forum | Outsourcing: a strategic tool in a changing world



With the persistent imbalance between labor supply and demand and growing skepticism about mass immigration as a solution to the problem, has the business community done the rounds of the garden as to all the solutions available to maintain productivity and meet the expectations of shareholders and customers?

What else can we expect from governments that harm at least as much as they help, such as the federal state, which continues to steal labor from the private sector and beat its own records as an omnipotent employer?⁠1by duplicating services that provinces like Quebec can manage themselves (revenue, immigration, health, etc.)?

Thus, there seems to be neither a single solution nor a sufficiently agile economic actor to support us towards a return to equilibrium in the labor market. Worse, as a BDC analysis reports⁠2, structural unemployment persists. This match between the profile of available talent and business needs argues for the often-raised solutions of digital transformation, targeted immigration and training. The latter will be essential when the unfortunate but expected closure of several retail and restaurant businesses occurs, freeing up labor ready to migrate to other industries. However, for jobs requiring specialized expertise, it gets more complicated. To meet this challenge, there is a sometimes overlooked solution: outsourcing, or contractual solutions provided by other firms or self-employed workers.

Several advantages

Indeed, for their benefit, organizations hire consultants, self-employed workers or specialized firms to entrust them with the management of a particular service. They find several advantages in it: expertise responding to a lack of expertise or structural in-house, resources committed with clear mandates according to pre-established deadlines, without employment ties or social charges, a significant benefit in the context of economic instability.

In other words, outsourcing is chosen to increase agility, to focus internal resources on the organization’s key mission and, sometimes, to strengthen its ecosystem and improve its competitiveness.

We hear that the health crisis has hurt the self-employed and reduced their number, that’s right⁠3. So, how to find these rare pearls? Apps like Upwork have smelled the windfall and developed an online showcase that exposes the consultants registered and available in your area. They offer occasional help that often meets work/family flexibility needs, away from traffic jams, and are motivated by the idea of ​​working for themselves, turning their backs on the traditional employer/employee relationship. Individual motivations sometimes following a path that ended in a “quiet quitting” within companies. In addition, there are many firms, from small to very large, that play the role of supplier in the outsourcing of specialized services in IT, human resources, strategic planning, logistics and many other areas of expertise.

Avoid internal competition

Obviously, depending on the context, each applicant company will find its own set of costs and benefits in the outsourcing of chosen activities. It is generally advisable that the use of outsourcing fills a gap in the company rather than competing with an existing service that already exists internally. In the latter case, the risk is the deterioration of the working atmosphere following the hiring of consultants or contractors who compete for positions and tasks occupied by internal employees. On this subject, healthcare placement agencies and Bombardier’s recourse to outsourcing, denounced by the unions, seem to be among the most recent examples⁠4, 5.

In a resolutely knowledge-based and SME-based economy, with an ever-changing labor market and employer-employee relationship, outsourcing is probably not a panacea, but it certainly deserves to be evaluated in strategic thinking. of an organization admitting that it cannot excel in everything nor be the employer of choice in all functions. Outsourcing should be the result of a fresh look, with the goal of bringing in new expertise without making a long-term commitment, by sorting out the services that make up the core of the business and the others. It also allows, in compliance with applicable laws, to define what should be considered in the context of a customer/supplier relationship, in addition to those between employer and employees.

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