How Canadian Enterprises Can Thrive Through Strategic Development Outsourcing: 2024 Guide


June 24, 2024 - 9 min read

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Businesses are using outsourcing to reduce operational costs, access specialized expertise, and focus more on core business activities. Within this market, Canada has positioned itself as a significant hub for IT outsourcing. In 2024, the IT Services market is expected to reach $30.23 billion, with IT Outsourcing contributing $11.76 billion, highlighting the country's growing significance in the global IT landscape.

A recent Techaisle study showed that Canadian SMBs that outsourced IT had a 59% average return on investment (ROI), higher than those managing IT in-house. They also saw more revenue growth compared to businesses with internal IT teams. Could outsourcing in Canada be the key to unlocking operational efficiency and growth? In this blog, we'll explore the outsourcing market in Canada, along with opportunities and considerations for all relevant players.

Key Players in Outsourcing Across Industries

Several Canadian companies outsource various services so that they can focus on their core competencies. Some well-known businesses that do this include:

  • Royal Bank of Canada: The bank has outsourced its IT services to companies like iGate, with operations primarily in India.
  • Sun Life Financial Services: The company has engaged in outsourcing partnerships, such as contracting IBM for operational services like mainframe environment, email marketing, app support, web hosting, and network support. Additionally, the company contracted Accenture for software development and maintenance.
  • Scotiabank: As one of the big five banks in Canada, Scotiabank has utilized onshore outsourcing to IBM Canada for domestic operations, including data centres, desktops, and ATMs.
  • Slack: While the company originated in Vancouver, it now operates out of San Francisco. The company utilizes both nearshore and offshore outsourcing, with some services delegated to firms in Canada and others in the Philippines.
  • Air Canada: Despite being the largest airline in Canada, Air Canada has outsourced top-quality services to several countries. It has utilized outsourcing for IT services and managed services, adapting its IT department to changing strategic objectives.

Drivers of Transformation in Canada

In the context of outsourcing, several key drivers are shaping Canada's business landscape, creating new opportunities:

Technological Innovation: Canada's robust innovation ecosystem, characterized by advancements in AI, blockchain, and biotechnology, is driving transformation across industries. Companies are leveraging technologies to enhance productivity, develop new products and services, and stay competitive in global markets.

Shifting Demographics: Canada's aging population and evolving workforce demographics are influencing business strategies and practices. Companies adapt to the changing labour market by embracing diversity and inclusion, implementing flexible work arrangements, and investing in talent development and retention initiatives.

Economic Globalization: Canada's integration into the global economy is creating new business opportunities and challenges. Companies are expanding their international footprint, exploring new markets, and forging strategic partnerships to drive growth and innovation.

Environmental Sustainability: Companies are adopting sustainable business practices to mitigate environmental risks and capitalize on emerging opportunities in the green economy.

Social Responsibility: Canada's growing emphasis on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ethical business practices is influencing organizational priorities and stakeholder expectations. Companies are integrating social and environmental considerations into their business strategies, engaging with communities and contributing to social causes to build trust and goodwill.

Digitalization: Canada's digital transformation journey is revolutionizing how businesses operate and interact with customers. Companies are embracing digital technologies like e-commerce, cloud computing, and digital marketing to enhance customer experiences, optimize operations, and drive innovation.

Opportunities for Outsourcing in Canada

Outsourcing presents several compelling opportunities for businesses in Canada to enhance their operational efficiency, drive cost savings, and unlock strategic advantages. By leveraging outsourcing partnerships, Canadian organizations can tap into specialized expertise, access global talent pools, and streamline processes to achieve their business objectives.

Cost Savings and Efficiency Improvements through Outsourcing

Outsourcing allows Canadian businesses to realize significant cost savings and efficiency improvements across various operational functions. Organizations can reduce overhead costs, optimize resource utilization, and focus internal resources on core strategic priorities. Additionally, outsourcing enables businesses to benefit from economies of scale, access specialized skills and technologies, and drive process efficiencies through streamlined workflows and best practices implemented by experienced outsourcing partners. The average monthly cost for managed services ranges from $2,200 to $4,600, based on the business size and the extent of services offered, illustrating the potential for cost savings.

Furthermore, outsourcing allows organizations to mitigate resource constraints, market fluctuations, and regulatory compliance risks. By partnering with outsourcing providers with robust infrastructure, industry expertise, and global delivery capabilities, Canadian businesses can enhance their agility, flexibility, and resilience.

Access to Specialized Skills and Expertise

Outsourcing allows Canadian businesses to harness specialized skills and expertise across various industries and disciplines. It enables organizations to access professionals with niche skills and deep domain knowledge in software development, data analytics, graphic design, or legal services.

This access to specialized talent extends beyond geographical boundaries, enabling businesses to tap into global talent pools. This broadens the scope of available skills and fosters creativity and innovation.

Additionally, outsourcing offers scalability, allowing businesses to scale their operations up or down as needed without the constraints of traditional hiring processes. Whether it's a short-term project requiring specialized expertise or a long-term partnership for ongoing support, outsourcing provides the needed flexibility.

Innovation and Strategic Partnerships with Outsourcing Providers

Outsourcing partners often bring fresh insights and innovative approaches to problem-solving, drawing from their experiences working with various clients and industries. Through collaborative brainstorming sessions, co-creation workshops, and ongoing dialogue, Canadian businesses can leverage the creativity and ingenuity of outsourcing providers to develop innovative solutions that address their unique challenges and opportunities.

Types of Outsourcing in Canada

Offshore outsourcing

Canadian businesses can leverage offshore outsourcing to access a global talent pool, often at lower labour costs than domestic options. Popular offshore outsourcing destinations include India, the Philippines, China, and Eastern European countries like Poland and Ukraine. When considering offshore outsourcing, conducting thorough due diligence on potential service providers is crucial, focusing on their track record, expertise, infrastructure, and cultural compatibility. Establish clear communication channels and project management processes to ensure collaboration across time zones and mitigate risks associated with distance and cultural differences.

Air Canada, Canada’s official flag carrier, engages in offshore outsourcing for top-quality services in several countries. Since the '90s, the carrier has outsourced IT services and other managed services to companies like IBM. Under the agreement, Air Canada and IBM became investment partners, leveraging IBM's research laboratories to develop new products and services tailored for the airline industry. While some industry experts viewed the deal as routine, Air Canada anticipated a return on investment of $130 million from the $908 million contract.  This offshore outsourcing strategy allows Air Canada to access specialized expertise and cost efficiencies while focusing on its core operations.

Nearshore outsourcing

When opting for nearshore software outsourcing, companies should prioritize providers in neighbouring countries or regions with strong technical capabilities, language proficiency, and business-friendly environments. Establishing strong relationships and regular communication with nearshore partners is essential for successful collaboration and project delivery, as it fosters transparency, trust, and the alignment of goals. Nearshoring to Canada is gaining popularity among U.S. companies, as it offers a similar time zone and cultural affinity while still providing cost savings compared to in-house development.

Slack, the business communication software company, is headquartered in San Francisco, California. While initially founded in Vancouver, Canada, Slack engages in nearshore outsourcing by delegating some of its services to firms in Canada. Their design and development tasks are also assigned to the Philippines, representing a comprehensive nearshore outsourcing strategy.

The success of Slack's nearshore outsourcing strategy is evident in its growth trajectory. In 2017, the company raised a $250 million round of investment, valuing the company at $5 billion. This achievement underscores the effectiveness of nearshore outsourcing, bringing versatility and the ability to impact even the most crucial components of a company, such as the logo, website, and overall brand identity. Seeking outside talent through nearshore outsourcing companies is not limited to minor aspects of a business but can also be a strategic approach for establishing and refining essential organizational elements.

Onshore outsourcing

With onshore outsourcing, Canadian businesses benefit from cultural alignment, regulatory compliance, and ease of communication inherent in domestic partnerships. When engaging in onshore outsourcing, prioritize service providers with a proven track record of delivering high-quality services, industry expertise, and a deep understanding of local market dynamics. Collaborate closely with onshore partners to define project objectives, timelines, and deliverables, leveraging their proximity for frequent face-to-face meetings, onsite visits, and integration with internal teams. Additionally, explore opportunities for strategic partnerships and long-term engagements to maximize the value derived from onshore outsourcing relationships.

Scotiabank utilizes onshore outsourcing by partnering with IBM Canada to handle its domestic operations, including data centres, desktops, and ATMs. The onshore outsourcing deal, valued at $578.3 million over seven years, marked a significant shift in managing the bank’s domestic computer operations. While the outsourcing deal aimed to streamline Scotiabank's IT operations and drive cost efficiencies, it also involved careful management of the transition process to ensure minimal disruption to the bank's services. This approach has allowed Scotiabank to maintain operational control within Canada while leveraging the expertise and resources of a trusted domestic partner.

Key Considerations for Outsourcing Success in Canada

Outsourcing in Canada can be a great strategic move for businesses to drive efficiency, innovation, and growth. However, achieving outsourcing success requires careful planning, execution, and management. Here are key considerations to ensure outsourcing initiatives deliver the desired results.

Define clear objectives and expectations for outsourcing initiatives, outlining the specific goals, deliverables, timelines, and performance metrics. A comprehensive understanding of desired outcomes ensures alignment between the business's strategic objectives and the outsourcing partnership's deliverables.

Conduct a thorough vendor selection process to identify outsourcing partners that align with the organization's goals, values, and operational requirements. Evaluate potential vendors based on expertise, experience, reputation, financial stability, cultural fit, and regulatory compliance. Request proposals, conduct interviews, and perform due diligence to assess the capabilities and reliability of prospective partners.

Establish open and transparent communication channels with outsourcing partners to foster collaboration, alignment, and mutual understanding. Define communication protocols, project management tools, and reporting mechanisms to facilitate real-time updates, progress tracking, and issue resolution. Cultivate a culture of trust, respect, and accountability across internal and external teams to ensure smooth collaboration and successful project outcomes.

Draft comprehensive contractual agreements outlining both parties' rights, responsibilities, and obligations in the outsourcing relationship. Address critical aspects such as scope of work, pricing structure, service levels, intellectual property rights, confidentiality, dispute resolution mechanisms, and termination clauses. Seek legal counsel to ensure contract compliance and mitigate potential risks or liabilities associated with outsourcing engagements.

Identify potential risks and develop risk management strategies to mitigate threats and uncertainties associated with outsourcing. Assess risks related to cybersecurity, data privacy, regulatory compliance, geopolitical factors, cultural differences, and vendor performance. Implement proactive measures, such as contingency plans, security protocols, insurance coverage, and regulatory compliance frameworks, to safeguard against potential disruptions and ensure business continuity.

Establish performance monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to track the progress, quality, and effectiveness of outsourcing initiatives. Define key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics to measure the performance of outsourcing partners against predetermined benchmarks and targets. Conduct regular reviews, audits, and assessments to identify areas for improvement, address issues proactively, and optimize outsourcing processes for maximum efficiency and value delivery.

Reach out

Offshore, nearshore, and onshore outsourcing each offer unique benefits and considerations. Whether leveraging global talent pools, fostering innovation through strategic partnerships, or maximizing scalability and flexibility, businesses must carefully evaluate their options to ensure outsourcing success.

To capitalize on these advantages, consider partnering with Vodworks. With a broad pool of experienced developers, we'll assemble your dream team to capture all the tangible benefits of offshore outsourcing.

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