LIST: Top UK Companies that Outsource to Stay on Top
UK companies know the score when it comes to outsourcing. In fact, a 2019 survey showed that 70% of business decision-makers in the UK have all in some compacity tried outsourcing parts of their operations to third-party providers.
The number of British companies that are outsourcing was even expected to grow when Brexit happened in 2020, inevitably impacting the supply chain and flow of skilled workers in UK, especially since the country has leaned on EU for labour power in times of talent shortage.
When the COVID-19 pandemic came, and eventually the 2021 mass resignation phenomenon, more UK companies found the benefit of outsourcing offshore, especially to top outsourcing destinations like the Philippines, to get access to the global talent market.
Throughout the recent years, IT support has been the top outsourced business process in the United Kingdom, but other operations, such as payroll, accounting, software development, recruitment, and marketing, are not far behind.
Business leaders who were asked in the same survey said they have outsourced these functions because they do not have qualified staff, it delivers better results, it enabled them to save, or it’s a more efficient way to do business.
In a nutshell, British businesses have been leveraging outsourcing services to stay competitive in the market. And it’s not just ordinary businesses, even the big ones are doing the same. Here are the top UK companies that outsource to stay on top.
One of the more established investment banks in the UK, if not the world, HSBC Holdings plc has been leveraging outsourcing to serve its millions of customers in different parts of the globe. Among the functions that HSBC has outsourced include IT support, research, customer service, and even software development.
HSBC has outsourced to countries like India and the Philippines, two of the most consistent top outsourcing destinations in the world, which allowed them not only to slash costs, but also tap a highly skilled labour force. The strategy has seemingly helped the company grow even faster to become the 6th largest bank in the world.
Proof that there is beauty in outsourcing is Avon, a UK-based company known for marketing and selling beauty products and personal care for both men and women. Avon Products, Inc. was able to connect with a global consumer base with the help of outsourcing. The company has mainly outsourced its manufacturing processes, but it has also tapped outsourcing providers for IT support as well.
It is no accident that Avon has become a trusted brand that speaks for women in different parts of the globe. By outsourcing the company has clearly held a grip in the global market. To date, Avon is known to be one of the world’s largest, if not the largest, direct selling company, with an average of US$ 10 billion annual revenue.
As a global leader in consumer goods, Unilever knows what a sound and innovative strategy is. And one of the strategies it used to grow globally is outsourcing. Among the business functions the company has outsourced include human resource, finance, and information technology – key areas of business that allowed them to focus on global expansion.
Based in London, Unilever has expanded into owning hundreds of brands in over 190 countries. Just in 2015, the company expanded its presence in the Philippines, establishing a global shared services hub and a new office. Unilever sees this as a long-term investment, not only to save costs, but to also ensure the quality of its product and services.
Outsourcing has been one of the keys to success of Royal Dutch Shell, One of the top multinational oil companies. Shell mainly outsources manufacturing, supply and distribution, and the marketing of its oil products and chemicals. It has also been able to streamline its business operations while lowering costs by outsourcing IT support roles.
To establish a formidable global presence, Shell has put up shared service centres in Cape Town, Chennai, Glasgow, Krakow, Kuala Lumpur, and Manila to serve as the company’s business process outsourcing arm. The strategy has proven to be effective as Shell has grown into the world’s third largest company in terms of revenue in 2018.
Founded in 1991, Dyson has become a household name in the UK and many other countries for innovative appliances. It started as a small company, but when it needed to scale to meet a global demand, Dyson began to outsource manufacturing to trusted providers in Asia, starting with Malaysia in the early 2000s.
Dyson grew quickly, successfully penetrating the Asian market. It began outsourcing manufacturing to the Philippines as well in 2016 to meet rising demands. Though it was founded in London, Dyson moved its headquarters in Singapore in 2021 due to the restrictions in dealing with the EU as brought about by the Brexit. To date, Dyson has over 12,000 employees across the world.
When the pandemic came, one of the first pharmaceutical companies to develop and execute a plan to create COVID-19 vaccines is AstraZeneca. The demand of producing vaccines in a short span of time to curb a deadly pandemic could have been fatal for the company as well, but it did not because its structures are ready and supported by exceptional talent.
A key support that AstraZeneca receives comes from its outsourced IT team. An estimated 30% of the company’s IT functions is outsourced, including network services and service desks. AstraZeneca is also outsourcing a chunk of its application development. Because of these strong foundations, the company has been successful in delivering an effective COVID-19 vaccine just in time.
With at least 1,200 branches across the globe, multinational banking and financial services Standard Chartered knew it needed outsourcing to have a seamless global operation. The London-based company has over 86,000 employees in 59 countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. Its services include corporate and institutional banking, corporate finance, private banking, and more.
Outsourcing allowed Standard Chartered to reduce time cycle and access highly skilled professionals to engage global customers – all while saving costs. In the Philippines for example, Standard Chartered is the oldest foreign bank and it grew significantly because the company outsourced various roles to the country, such as investment advisors and specialists, credit and product specialists, and more.
Found in 2010 as Transferwise, Wise has become one of the most successful online money transfer services in UK. The company supports at least 750 currencies across the globe to allow its users to send and receive money to and from abroad with less charges. Their services have become one of the most efficient ways of transacting when “touchless” services became the new normal of the pandemic.
Wise mostly outsource IT solutions and development functions to providers in nearby Estonia and Ukraine, but it has recently sought engineering support from providers in the Philippines. Outsourcing allowed Wise scale up seamlessly, as it is now able to support 10 million users doing at least £4.5 billion cross-border transactions every month.
One the oldest insurance companies in the world, Prudential plc began expanding operations globally in the 1920s, establishing presence in India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Johannesburg. Now, it has over 18 million customers in Asia and Africa. It has also been listed on the stock exchanges in Singapore, London, Hong Kong, and New York.
Prudential has maintained a stable global presence with the help of outsourcing. In the Philippines, for example, the company has established offices and businesses that not only support its back-office operation, but also boosted its sales and marketing force in the country, making it one of the most trusted insurance firms there.
Now called BP PLC, British Petroleum evolved as one of the world’s major oil and gas companies since its establishment in the early 20th century. A true home-grown giant, the London-based company operates in over 80 countries across the globe to produce 3.7 million barrels of oil a day. It has also established over 18,000 service locations worldwide, with the largest one in the United States.
BP PLC continues to be a global giant with the help of outsourcing. Since the early 90’s, the company has been outsourcing its whole IT operations, which allowed them to reduce costs and access to highly qualified IT professionals and state of the art IT infrastructures. Because of this, BP PLC has more time and resources to focus on value-generating aspects of business.
Outsourcing for UK companies of all sizes
While outsourcing proved to be advantageous to huge businesses in the UK, it does not mean that small and medium-sized companies would not be able to enjoy these benefits. In fact, outsourcing is the perfect strategy for the smaller organisations that want to achieve a level of competitive edge without spending too much budget.
Start by identifying aspects of the operations that seems to slow down business growth because of specific pain points. The problem could be access to talent and technology, flexibility to scale, overhead costs, or something else that your current system cannot really handle alone. These would be great points to study before engaging an outsourcing provider.
READ MORE: Outsourcing in the Philippines: A Guide for Businesses
Once you have listed all the pain points, as well as your goals and timelines, it would be great to talk to multiple outsourcing providers in the top destinations, such as India and the Philippines. Ask for their capabilities to deliver exact results and choose which one you think could help you break through the competitive market.