Outsourcing involves the transfer of the management and/or day-to-day execution of an entire business function to an external service provider. The client organization and the supplier enter in to a contractual agreement that defines the transferred services. Under the agreement the supplier acquires the means of production in the form of a transfer of people, assets and other resources from the client. The client agrees to procure the services from the supplier for the term of the contract. Business segments typically outsourced include information technology, human resources, facilities and real estate management, and accounting.
Outsourcing and offshoring are used interchangeably in public discourse despite important technical differences. Outsourcing involves contracting with a supplier, which may or may not involve some degree of offshoring. Offshoring is the transfer of an organizational function to another country, regardless of whether the work is outsourced or stays within the same corporation.
With increasing globalization of outsourcing companies, the distinction between outsourcing and offshoring will become less clear over time. This is evident in the increasing presence of Indian outsourcing companies in the US and UK. The globalization of outsourcing operating models has resulted in new terms such as nearshoring and rightshoring that reflect the changing mix of locations. This is seen in the opening of offices and operations centers by Indian companies in the U.S. and UK.
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