Outsourcing providers will face increasing challenges in 2007 as the market gets tougher and more competitive, new research has predicted.
The latest Quarterly Index from outsourcing advisory firm TPI said that the final quarter of 2006 was the worst fourth quarter in five years in terms of the value of outsourcing contracts awarded.
In addition, the company estimates that the value of contracts entirely new to the market (this excludes re-tenderings of existing contracts) declined by eight per cent on 2005 levels.
The trend towards shorter and smaller contracts, and more specialist and single-process deals, means that tendering activity nevertheless remains frenzied.
A record 350 contracts were agreed in 2006, just beating last year's previous record of 341.
Duncan Aitchison, managing director of TPI EMEA and Asia-Pacific, said: "In practice, the trend towards shorter contract duration means that outsourcing providers are obliged to compete more often in order to secure the same level of business.
"For many the cost of sale can become a major issue. Consequently service providers need to be increasingly selective in terms of the contracts they pursue."
Aitchison added that, at the same time, competition has been heightened with more providers competing for market share. The number of providers winning contracts has increased by 64 per cent in the past four years, from 55 in 2002 to 90 in 2006.
Their share of the market globally by total contract value has fallen from 71 per cent in 2002 to 46 per cent in 2006.
"In general terms, this increased competition is clearly good for buyers," explained Aitchison.
"However, greater diversity and specialisation among suppliers, combined with more frequent tendering, means more complexity in the procurement process and the management of outsourcing contracts."
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