Consistent Focus On Promoting Best Practice In Outsourcing
The National Outsourcing Association celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2012. In those 25 years, the association has grown from a spark of an idea to being the pre-eminent promoter of outsourcing.
Although outsourcing as an abstract concept is older dates to Before Christ, the modern incarnation of outsourcing – with its IT-enabled influence on business processes has really come to the fore over the last 20 years.
Outsourcing was once a radical concept
In May 1987, in the Telecom Tower, London, a radical idea was floated - British Rail should get British Telecom to handle its telecommunications capability.
British Rail managers wanted some reassurance that outsourcing worked and a body of evidence was requested, to prove this new idea was possible.
In the end, the deal didn’t come off, as British Rail was soon to be privatised, but the seeds of The National Outsourcing Association were sown.
Nick Kane from British Telecom, and David Rayner, of British Rail, as well as representatives of GEC, Unilever, Trafalgar House, France Telecom got together and held regular meetings as a forum for comparing notes on experiences – this began the body of evidence which the NOA continues to develop to this day.
A Snapshot of the Late 80s
In 1987 outsourcing was limited to on-shore, mainly in telecommunications. Only when the telecommunications markets were liberalised from the early 1990s onwards did outsourcing really start to take off. Coupled with the rise and rise of computing power and application software it was possible to achieve significant cost savings, quality and rapid deployment benefits by outsourcing. However, the contracting vehicles were not very sophisticated and many customers and suppliers found themselves in contracting muddles leading to dissatisfaction, issues which are being progressively addressed to this day.
The Need for the NOA
The NOA was a response to a growing need for both outsourcing customers and suppliers to share ideas, review successes and failures, and stop re-inventing wheels. In doing so creating a body of expertise and best practice that could carry the industry forward.
As more and more organisations looked towards outsourcing to obtain strategic business step changes, The NOA was among first to recognise that alignment of organisational business objectives was arguably the most important factor in outsourcing.
The NOA Today
The NOA has been designed to be a tight ship and we have successfully navigated through many recessions especially the Dot Com bubble and burst. During this time we have managed to grow the services we offer such as professional qualifications (with the NOA Pathway), developed numerous prestige events (such as the best practice awards) and we have also created successful spin offs such as sourcingfocus.com, the leading portal for outsourcers (with 14,000 members as friends of the NOA), the NOA’s Outsourcing Yearbook and the creation of the EOA. We have also started Parliamentary involvement through the All Party Group on Outsourcing & Shared Services.
Currently we have almost 300 members which are split into three member categories: end-users, suppliers and support service companies. A large number of members are blue-chip user organisations - some managing the largest European outsource deals - as well as premier suppliers, leading consultants and legal advisors in sourcing.