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Outsourcing Business and I.T. Services: the Evidence of Success, Robust Practices and Contractual Challenges

  • Mary Lacity and Leslie Willcocks

In this article, Mary Lacity and Leslie Willcocks review the practice of outsourcing business and information technology services. Research finds that outsourcing can deliver value to client organisations, but that it takes a tremendous amount of detailed management by clients and providers to realise expected benefits. The proven practices that contribute to positive outsourcing outcomes can be summarised as contractual governance, relational governance, client retained capabilities, and provider capabilities. Despite outsourcing's maturity, some enduring contractual challenges remain, particularly in the areas of incentive pricing and contract adaptability.

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1 The best compendiums on our case study research may be found in two sister volumes:

Willcocks, L., and Lacity, M. (2009), The Practice of Outsourcing: From Information Systems to BPO and Offshoring, Palgrave, United Kingdom.

Lacity, M., and Willcocks, L. (2009), Information Systems and Outsourcing: Studies in Theory and Practice, Palgrave, United Kingdom.

The meta-analyses on 1,356 findings from empirical ITO and BPO studies are published in:

Lacity, M., Khan, S., Yan, A., and Willcocks, L. (2010), “A Review of the IT Outsourcing Empirical Literature and Future Research Directions,” Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 25, 4, pp. 395433.

Lacity, M., Solomon, S., Yan, A., and Willcocks, L. (2011), “Business Process Outsourcing Studies: A Critical Review and Research Directions,” Journal of Information Technology, Vol. 26, 4, forthcoming.

2 Figures from Willcocks, L.Cullen, S. And Craig, A. (2011), The Outsourcing Enterprise: From Cost Management to Collaborative Innovation. Palgrave, London.

3 See Lacity, M. and Willcocks, L. (2012) Advanced Outsourcing. Palgrave, London.

4 Lacity et al. 2010, 2011; op. cit.

5 Lacity, M. and Willcocks, L. (2001), Global Information Technology Outsourcing: Search for Business Advantage, Wiley, Chichester; The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) (2010), Outsourcing Professional Body of Knowledge, Van Haren Publishing, Zaltbommel.

6 The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (2010), op. cit.

7 See Lacity and Willcocks (2012) op. cit.

8 Lacity et al. 2011, op. cit.

9 Lacity et al. 2011, op. cit.

10 By this we mean that the practices emerge from research conducted in a methodologically robust manner, with reliable data, and verified as such by peer review in refereed journals.

11 Lacity et al. 2011, op. cit.

12 Lacity et al. 2011, op. cit.

13 See Lacity and Willcocks, (2001) op. cit. for examples.

14 Lacity et al. 2010; 2011, op. cit.

15 Lacity et al. 2010; 2011, op. cit.

16 Macneil, I., (1977), “Contracts: adjustment of long-term economic relations under classical, neoclassical, and relational contract law,” Northwestern University Law Review vol:72 pp. 854.; Williamson, O. (1996), The Economics of Governance, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

17 Lacity, M., Willcocks, L., and Rottman, J. (2008), “Global Outsourcing of Back Office Services: Lessons, Trends and Enduring Challenges,” Strategic Outsourcing: An International Journal, Vol. 1, 1, pp. 1334.

18 Fersht, P., Herrera, E., Robinson, B., Filippone, T. and Willcocks, L. (2011), The State of Outsourcing in 2011, Horses for Sources and LSE Outsourcing Unit, London, May–July; see

19 For an overview of IT benchmarking, see: Lacity, M. and Hirschheim, R. (1995), “Benchmarking as Survival Strategy in “Mis-Aligned” Organisations,” Journal of Strategic Information Systems, Vol 4, 2, pp. 165185.

20 Lin, A. (2008), “ABA Gives Thumbs Up to Legal Outsourcing,” New York Law Journal, August 27.

22 Wood, L., (2011), “Research and Markets: The Global LPO Market is Expected to be Worth $2.4 billion in 2012,” Business Wire, March 11; see also, the Black Book of Outsourcing: 2010 Leading Providers of Legal Process Outsourcing

23 Wood, L. (2010), “Research and Markets: Indian Legal Process Outsourcing Market,” Business Wire, October 7.

24 Wood, L. (2010), op. cit.

25 TCS Keen on Legal Process Outsourcing Segment,” Accord Fintech, May 20, 2011.

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Legal Information Management
  • ISSN: 1472-6696
  • EISSN: 1741-2021
  • URL: /core/journals/legal-information-management
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