Asian Outsourcing Gathers Momentum

Outsourcing is now a global phenomenon. Lita Nnithiyanandan explains to Jim Banks how the outsourcing trend is gathering pace in Asia as more companies seize the opportunities offered by the region.

Globally, the growth of outsourcing in its many forms has been rapid, but many of the companies seeking service providers are concentrated in the West. Asia’s appeal as a location for service providers is well established, but the region is also seeing more interest among companies outside the US and Europe.

Some service providers with a global presence recognise this trend, and see the need to put in place the physical and human resources required to serve this market.

Lita Nithiyanandan, head of the Asia Pacific (APAC) outsourcing and consulting group of Kelly Services, says: ‘People are more open to outsourcing in the region. The economy is buoyant and the talent crunch is very tight here, so our business is doing very well and there is an opportunity for it to develop fast. In terms of the trend for making outsourcing decisions, however, APAC still lags behind the rest of the world.’


"As the outsorcing market grows, companies will soon come to understand the value that the right service provider can add."

Operating in 37 countries, Kelly Services is a leading provider of human resources solutions, offering temporary staffing services, outsourcing, vendor on-site and full-time placement. Its global perspective has given it a bird’s eye view of how the market is changing in different regions. It also allows Kelly Services to see how attitudes are changing among service providers and, most importantly, clients.

From this point of view, Nithiyanandan sees the outsourcing landscape in the APAC region starting to change faster, as companies sense an opportunity not to be missed.

‘People see outsourcing as a cost-effective model, but it is also about efficiency. Cost alone is not enough. That is one thing that we can learn from our US and European counterparts. APAC is more like Europe, as it is made up of many countries with their different cultures, and different approaches to tax and employment law,’ says Nithiyanandan. ‘But we are seeing changes already. The region is looking at business co-operation at government level, because this is the place that everyone is now looking at.’


For companies to take advantage of this opportunity, Nithiyanandan believes they must think about how different service providers are positioned, and how flexible they can be in their service delivery. The approach Kelly Services has taken is to back up its expertise in execution with advice on strategy as part of a broader array of services.

‘The company is known for its staffing,’ says Nithiyanandan, ‘but we also have consultancy and executive search capability. We are very good at managing transactional business, as we have the processes and experience to handle high-volume work. We can do middle management, executive search, HR processes, business process outsourcing and vendor-managed services. That puts us in a unique position.’

Of equal importance is the experience that Kelly Services has built up in the APAC region. Its presence and commitment to its regional business has helped it establish enduring relationships, which are the platform for doing business in Asia. The company’s understanding of the differences – cultural and legal – of the many markets in the region, stand it in good stead.

‘It’s about anticipating the needs of clients and having the right resources available. A service provider needs the ability to not only scale up for a project, but scale down again when a project is finished,’ says Nithiyanandan.

The current rapid growth among outsourcing providers such as Kelly Services suggest that outsourcing in APAC will soon be a big story, and Nithiyanandan expects that as the outsourcing market grows, companies will soon come to understand the value that the right service provider can add.

Lita Nnithiyanandan of Kelly Services.