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Exploring Outsourcing—Challenges and Opportunities

By: Marie Alice Dibon, PharmD
Posted: June 5, 2009, from the June 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“In certain industrial worlds, the reporting chain on defects can be as long as a month,” says Membrado. “By the time the big cheese gets the information, it is far too late for any meaningful action to be taken. We put tools in place that inform all operators in real time. This improves both the process and the relationships among people. No one is left in the dark.”

And that is a very important point. Those new tools bring a new level of transparency that improves work and guarantees that it is properly done—at all levels. In the long run, the whole work atmosphere benefits from it because no one can hide mistakes or incompetence. In fact, transparency is the heart of these tools and processes.

The Importance of Transparency

Transparency is what will help fluidify the information, make it available to all involved in a process and allow for quick rectification when needed, thus creating a seamless and efficient process.

Today, there is a formidable cultural change occurring at all levels of society—one that demands transparency. As evident in the headlines of the financial pages of world newspapers, opaque processes often lead to short-term success at the expense of the long-term. And Web 2.0 provides new tools with which transparency can be better practiced. It also allows increases in productivity, which had reached a ceiling before its advent. “People used to say: ‘You can’t outsource your core business,” says Membrado. “In fact, I outsource my core business. It is software development, and I no longer have programmers in-house. Everything is outsourced. I work with teams in China and India. It is cost-effective, but is more about price/quality ratio than a pure cost issue. You have to understand that there are costs and efforts involved in outsourcing but that the results are completely worth it.”

Thinking About Creation and Sourcing Innovation

The beauty industry has always looked beyond its own confines to remain creative. However, the limits of those confines have changed, pushed farther by the new shape of today’s business world. What looked far away yesterday is now within hand’s reach, and new opportunities arise. Networks extend globally and new technologies are born every day, pushed by both accelerating research and the ever-evolving demands of the public constantly kept abreast of everything, fed by a continuous flow of information and with unlimited access to it.

If this sounds overwhelming, the feeling is normal. What is happening, at the pace it is happening, is quite unprecedented. What’s being experienced, triggered by the coming of the age of the Internet and globalization, is nothing short of a second industrial revolution. Maybe it should be called a knowledge revolution.

It is a challenge as much as an opportunity to get ahead. Look at new fields, new technologies, new ways to do business, and the magnitude of these possibilities is enormous. However, not everyone has the ability to build a huge network, reaching out to more than one million researchers. But you can start looking at things and keep networks in mind, because they are fundamental to today’s world. In fact, what matters is not to set things in stone—it is to remain fluid. Networks evolve quickly. The way to approach them is not by building set structures, and processes but by giving yourself the ability to receive the information or the opportunities and use them as soon as needed.

Also remember, networks are themselves part of larger networks. They are built based on affinities: business affinity, technological affinity, language affinity, cultural affinity and so on—in short, communities. Communities have many ways to connect, and the points of contact are diverse and varied. There isn’t just one good way to approach networks in the scope of new ingredients and technologies outsourcing—there are many. What is most important to understand is that a single person can, in no way, do it all.