Outsourcing from the continental European perspective

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1 Outsourcing from the continental European perspective Looking through the myriad of outsourcing-related news, views, blogs and tweets, it s easy to assume that the Anglo Saxon perspective dominates; this is a dangerous assumption. From an outsourcing perspective, continental Europe is in a state of flux. The increasing pressure on corporations due to the Eurozone crisis is driving changes to shared service and captive operations as companies seek to streamline their processes and outsourcing; both ITO and BPO are becoming more acceptable socially and politically. In this vein, BPO Backchat was lucky enough to speak to Frank Wolfsteiner, Munich-based Partner in KPMG s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory (SSOA) business in Germany. Guy Kirkwood (GK): Frank, thank you so much for joining us. The purpose of this conversation is to provide a feel for who you are, what you do and what the market looks like in Germany and more broadly in the Eurozone. If you could start off telling the readers a bit about yourself and how you came to KPMG, that would be really useful. Frank Wolfsteiner (FW): I studied computer sciences in Germany and then went on to the US. There I did software development for high security access control systems for a leading jeweller on Fifth Avenue and a multinational food manufacturing company, which were great jobs. I then went on to a consumer products company in Germany where I looked after all the HR systems in Europe. I started the SAP HR implementation and HR restructuring pilot for the firm which was then extended throughout Europe. This was the first SAP HR R/3 implementation and it was a real success, delivering value within succession planning, benefits and sophisticated compensation. SAP was then extended into the first Shared Service Centres. I then moved on to a global consulting and audit company where I was Head of HR, IT and Shared Services Practice in the UK. In that role, I co-developed a generic global blueprint for Shared Services Centres. It was a comprehensive blueprint and mapped the way to start an F&A Shared Service Centre or an HR Service centre. I then moved onto another consulting firm doing the same role. After a year and-a-half the company asked me to move to India and build a global offshore capabilities centre for their clients. It took four years to build that centre. After I finished that project, I moved to the firm s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory Group and then joined a start-up sourcing advisory firm. There, I helped my previous firm deliver the HR restructuring of the largest German bank. I then joined one of the two major global sourcing advisory businesses where I was the Managing Director for BPO advisory. From there I moved to Equaterra which was then subsequently bought by KPMG in I now work for KPMG s Shared Services and Sourcing Advisory Group and form part of the SSOA Europe Leadership team. GK: Your background is interesting as you ve seen outsourcing from the client s side; the delivery side and also the advisory side, which is unusual. Looking now at the German market specifically, part of the conversation I had with Michael Lennartz from Deloitte, was that from the outside, the market appetite in Germany for outsourcing seems quite low and that it is due to the workers councils and the politics of 1

2 outsourcing. I am interested in your take on that. Do you think there is a potential for an increase in German outsourcing opportunities? FW: First of all let us look at ITO because that is well established within the German corporate community. ITO in Germany is becoming more focused on cloud and the additional value-add that IT can bring to the client. It is looking away from operations and more towards internal customer value. BPO is less established and in fact is nascent in Germany. We are however seeing many interesting conversations and a high level of interest around the F&A and procurement spaces in banking; in particular with regards to credit card management and setting up new businesses. If a bank goes into a new business there is an interest in doing the processing with a sourcing provider rather than keeping it captive, the thinking here is well advanced but the delivery and actual contracts are difficult. I think attributing the market appetite for outsourcing in Germany to the workers councils and politics is an over simplification. The appetite and attitudes are deeper routed. The Germans have a high quality standard in everything they do. From my own experience on deals that we have supported, German organisations want a different level of detail and control on the delivery which is something you do not see in some other European countries. German organisations really want to understand how the service is being delivered, who is delivering it and what is the detail behind it. To establish a level of trust in the German market it takes more than just meeting SLAs, one has to give the organisation a detailed understanding of the processes behind the service. There is a higher need in my eyes for service providers to support that need for trust in the German market, we ve seen several things where service providers deliver against their usual terms but the Germans remain critical. There is a notion that we, as Germans do it better and so closely linked captives are the often preferred options for German organisations. When there is a hybrid model present, the tasks outsourced are highly repetitive, highly controllable and highly documented. The target market for outsourcing in Germany over the next few years, in my opinion is the upper middle market, mainly of the top 300 corporates in Germany. Here Xchanging and its competitors would be looking to start an outsourcing piece consisting of FTEs. In my view the big corporates are not necessarily the major market driver. GK: How is trouble in the Greece, Italy and Spain, affecting the sourcing advisory market across the Eurozone? FW: That is difficult to say because we haven t felt the effects of it in Germany that strongly. At the moment we are seeing two trends. One is that organisations are showing hesitance with spend on major organisational change to ensure that their war chest is well filled. The other is that organisations are showing interest in cost saving measures to make them more competitive in the eventuality that severe ramifications from the trouble in the southern states are felt. Organisations are feeling pressure to reduce cost and increase performance with little or no upfront investment. This environment is conducive towards sourcing becoming a strategy request. GK: Directly leading on from that, it appears there is an appetite for gain share models that companies would have shied away from previously. Is this move a direct result of that? FW: We do see gain share models in procurement but not really anywhere else. Procurement in Germany has always had a gain share element. At KPMG we bought Brainnet to support clients 2

3 with their strategy and front savings. It has put us in a much better place to help clients with the restructuring of their procurement organisation, to deliver initial savings and to prepare the organisation for shared services or outsourcing. We basically go in as a consulting facility, improve the situation, provide quick wins and help clients to decide whether to build a shared service centre, a hybrid model or completely outsource procurement. GK: How do sourcing advisors help organisations when they want to move from having a couple of separate shared service centres for functions to establishing global multi tower shared services? FW: From an outsourcing advisory perspective we help organisations reap synergies from this metamorphosis by providing a solid governance structure. The governance structure ensures that components go in the right place and that the right budgets are combined and utilised efficiently. GK: That is part of what was discussed in Cannes, specifically around what Shell and BP are doing in terms of consolidating their different Shared Service operations into these captive, effectively, insourced- outsourced operations. They are not using third parties to provide these services; they are doing it themselves but consolidating everything together. Have you seen any of this yourself? FW: That is very mature; we have seen that in IT where the operational functions have been consolidated. GK: How do you see the relationships between the advisor and the vendors changing? Are you seeing a change in the relationship in the synergies between vendor and advisor, or is it still fairly combative? FW: Outsourcing requires a very holistic approach that includes; Shared Services, change management, content expertise, sourcing expertise, technology expertise in the specific field and outsourcing advisory expertise. There are niche sourcing advisory firms that focus solely on the sourcing transaction and not the sourcing lifecycle itself. This approach has several deficits. We at KPMG with our Equaterra heritage are a strong firm because we take the holistic approach and look at sourcing from every angle as well as looking at the whole chain of improvements that an organisation goes through. We generate a lot more value with this approach, I have worked on projects where it started with the technical optimisation of the supply chain and ended up in geographic expansions and shared service centres where a service provider needed to come in. In essence with the holistic approach we do not just look at the running of a sourcing transaction but at the transformation delivery of the service. I believe that the delivery of the service changes the way an organisation addresses their customers. GK: Yes, even ISG are becoming more flexible, they are asking service providers for a request to solution not a request for information or a proposal, resulting in the process become more innovation driven. This plays to the strength of organisations that are not just driven by costs. Do you feel that KPMG is working better with the large vendors or the small specialists in certain areas? FW: We do see providers that are flexible and organisations that are not flexible to deliver solutions to the specific needs of clients. If you were to go to our website and look at the responses of our clients to our surveys, you will find insightful material on all major service 3

4 providers. Many organisations are ready to take on the clients challenges and deliver value; other organisations are sometimes mainly looking for their own value. GK: In most outsourcing deals the vendor will take the client on a journey over a five to seven year period, and the account teams after three to four years will go to the client and say, We have got some fantastic innovative ideas for you, and the client will say Why didn t you bring them three to four years ago, is it because you want to re-sign the contract? What are you seeing in regards to advisory organisations being able to drive innovation into contracts at that early stage so that when the market changes, the vendor and the client are able to adapt without being change-controlled to death? FW: If I put my service provider hat on, three to four years is too late. It is justifiable for a service provider to not be able to offer innovation after just one year as you need time to understand your client, and their data and to provide and generate insight the client doesn t have themselves. The metrics and transparency which the client already has, is sometimes not sufficient. We have a tool where we do data mining on processes. For example we will take the F&A processes of the client and we ll analyse the SAP data logs. After a month you will get a 100 page analysis of data flow which usually presents a very different picture from what is documented as process flow. Many service providers do need some time to understand how their new client is actually working and why they are working that way. There is a need to build data and transparency and then do the analysis and come with a valid proposition to the client. At KPMG we do the analysis upfront, so we help the service provider and client to really understand where their processes are. We may just have solutions at the time of contract signing, but both sides do understand much more clearly what shape or form the processes are at that point in time. On the one hand there is clear understanding from the client why the transition is not straight forward and on the other there is a clear understanding from the service provider on how much optimisation can be done as requested by the client in first months. GK: Let us go back to the start of this conversation; you have seen the market grow from the waves of activity that have taken place. What are you missing within the HR market? From what I can see there is more appetite to include HR in the procurement element, especially where people are critical to the business, for example in professional service organisations where the hire-to-retire activity is a large part of the organisation s spend. Are you seeing a convergence between Procurement and HR at all? FW: In Germany I do not. I do see a clear understanding within the HR community that they can improve on the spend side significantly. I see a new wave of HR transformation and HRO coming when it will happen, I don t know, it depends on the economic framework. If the business continues to go well we will see some HR transformation and some significant HR ITO transactions. If the economy deflates, companies will likely become more tactical and will want to reduce spend on recruitment and training. There is also another element, HR are trying to understand the new generation who expect different services from HR. We are seeing a deeper level of collaboration that requires individuals to be more flexible with their personal time and to integrate their personal and professional lives into one. HR are now thinking what the impact will be with their talent management and delivery organisation, because in the next few years they will have to reform the way HR works. They, however, may find managers much more flexible as they have grown up with more transparency in everything else in the business but don t see the transparency and support levels from HR. There is still a long way to go and HR is underfunded in many organisations and this makes outsourcing a viable option. GK: That was fantastic Frank, thank you very much for your time. 4

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