A Set of Standards for Outsourcing Professionals


    The Outsourcing Standards Board, which is part of the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, has issued a “Code of Ethical and Business Practice Standards for Outsourcing Professionals.”

    The seven-page document includes six areas of concern:

    • Professional responsibility
    • Professional representation
    • Accountability for outcomes
    • Professional development
    • Outsourcing advocacy
    • Issue resolution

    Each area provides a core principle, like this one for professional responsibility:

    To adhere to the highest standards of ethical business practices in all business dealings, especially those that involve business decisions on entering, maintaining, or discontinuing outsourcing relationships. To conduct oneself in a way that contributes to a positive image for the individuals and organizations that work in the field of outsourcing.

    Next comes the intent, such as this one for issue resolution:


    To ensure that these ethical and business practice standards are put into practice

    To provide a way for those both inside and outside the profession to resolve any concerns with the adherence of outsourcing professionals to these standards

    To create a forum for ongoing dialogue and understanding of the evolving nature of outsourcing in the global business community

    That is followed by the guidelines, such as this one for accountability for outcomes:


    1. Establish objective and standardized measures of success for all outsourcing relationships that reflect the full range of business outcomes sought

    2. Establish objective and standardized measures of risks for outsourcing relationships

    3. Collect and report actual outcomes achieved over time in objective measurable terms

    4. Whenever possible, use outcomes-based data as the basis for business recommendations to clients, employers, employees, and businesses and communities at large

    5. Build and continuously seek to employ and enhance effective communications, change management, and dispute resolution processes for outsourcing relationships

    6. Build and continuously seek to employ and enhance effective risk management and risk-reward sharing mechanisms for outsourcing relationships.

    I buy into the idea of professional guidelines, not only for poking us into doing what’s right, but to help us push back in situations where others are advocating detrimental approaches to work. Of course, this one’s totally voluntary (unlike versions of standards for doctors or guidelines by bar associations). If nobody can be booted out of the industry for doing the wrong thing, it’ll become little more than another marketing message for service providers. How do you derive standards with teeth when there’s no law behind it?