As a follow-up to last week’s blog on Molson Coors’ experience with outsourcing, the CFO of the Latin American division of Dutch comglomerate Philips provided a different perspective Thursday morning at the Hackett Group’s best practices conference in Atlanta.
While Molson Coors’ CFO Stewart Glendinning expressed disappointment over high turnover rates at the outsourcing company the beer company signed up with, Philips’ Latin American CFO Ronald Eikelenboom said he planned on high turnover when he inked a deal with Indian outsourcer Infosys in late 2008 to expand the two companies’ relationship to Brazil, where Philips’ Latin American operations are based.
Eikelenboom told the audience (and me in a follow up video interview that will be posted shortly) that high turnover was central to Infosys’ business model, as the outsourcer keeps salary costs low by rotating from older to younger workers. But that turnover was priced into the terms of the deal, which at $250 million (for, I believe, the global contract, not just the Latin American part) is considered one of the largest of all such transactions. Too, the terms set a minimum level of performance, so it’s up to Infosys to manage the downside of high turnover.
Infosys had few qualms about Philips’ demands, said Eikelenboom, because the company was eager to expand into Brazil and the Philips deal gave it an entrée. So the CFO had enough leverage with the outsourcer to reassure himself about the potential risks.
“We’re building something together with Infosys,” he told the gathering. “We share the same aspirations.”
For that reason, Eikelenboom also expressed less concern than Glendinning did about outsourcing complex financial processes. And he said that was important for Philips as labor cost advantages in emerging markets dwindle over time as wages rise, and innovation and process improvement thus become more critical to the value that outsourcing creates.
“We’re moving up the ladder in BPO,” he said, referring to business process outsourcing.
With outsourcing, as with everything, I suppose, it’s different strokes for different folks.