Debunking the Myth of the 51% Rule in Outsourcing



Outsourcing has become a fundamental strategy for businesses seeking to improve their efficiency, reduce costs, and stay competitive in today’s globalised economy. Yet, a persistent myth falsely claims that outsourcing hinges on a rigid 51% rule, necessitating the majority of project tasks to be done by foreign workers. This fact is simply inaccurate and does not speak to the authentic nature of outsourcing, as we all know that outsourced work does not have a fixed percentage requirement. Instead, outsourcing refers to the practice of contracting out specific tasks, processes, or projects to external organisations or individuals, often located in different countries, to take advantage of their expertise, cost-effectiveness, or other benefits.


1. No fixed percentage

Contrary to the myth, outsourcing is not constrained by a specific percentage requirement. It is a highly flexible practice that can range from a small portion of a project to the entire project itself. There is no universally accepted standard to quantify outsourcing. In reality, businesses may choose to outsource as little as 10% of their operations to as much as 90%, or even more, depending on the project and goals.


2. Flexibility

Outsourcing encompasses a wide spectrum of possibilities. It can involve a fractional percentage, a majority of the work, or anything in between. The extent to which a project is outsourced is determined by the specific needs of the project and the outsourcing arrangement.


3. Diverse outsourcing models

Outsourcing can take on different forms, such as offshoring (work performed in another country), near-shoring (work done in a nearby country), or on-shoring (work conducted in the same country but by an external organisation). Check out our blog on different types of outsourcing. These models are not bound by a 51% rule but rather by where the work is executed.


4. Business objectives

The decision to outsource is driven by the strategic goals of a business. Companies outsource for various reasons, including cost savings, access to specialised skills, a focus on core competencies, or expanding their global reach. The choice is based on these objectives, not on a predetermined percentage.


5. Changing dynamics

The landscape of outsourcing is continually evolving, adapting to market conditions, technological advancements, and global economic factors. What may be considered standard practice today could be different tomorrow, but it will not be determined by an unchanging percentage rule.

For ambitious CEOs, the key questions today are not about what they should do in Asia, but how – McKinsey & Company

A Strategic Approach to Outsourcing

A key factor that attracts businesses to outsource, especially to a booming tech hub like Vietnam or the Philippines, is the significant cost advantage. As the business world embraces outsourcing to Vietnam, decision makers are asking not what they should do in this dynamic market, but how they can harness its full potential. Vietnam offers flexibility, cost advantages, technological expertise, and much more, allowing companies to make strategic decisions tailored to their unique needs and objectives. On average, labor costs in Vietnam can be 50-60% lower than in Western countries. This cost advantage allows businesses to consider outsourcing a substantial portion of a project, achieving significant cost savings.



Vietnam – A Booming Tech Hub

Over the past 10 years, Vietnam has rapidly emerged as a tech hub, particularly in software development. Businesses looking to benefit from this expertise may outsource more than 50% of their software development projects to leverage the highly skilled IT workforce available in Vietnam. Vietnam also has strengths in various industries, including manufacturing, customer support, and digital marketing. Depending on the sector, the level of outsourcing can significantly differ. For instance, in manufacturing, a higher percentage of production tasks may be outsourced. Vietnam’s business environment is also evolving rapidly, and companies in transition might outsource a larger portion of their operations to quickly adapt to these changes. The percentage of work outsourced can vary widely, depending on whether it’s initial market research or setting up and operating a new subsidiary.

The percentage of work outsourced in a project can be highly variable and is not a defining characteristic of outsourcing. The essence of outsourcing lies in its adaptability to meet the specific needs and goals of a business or project. By recognising the flexibility and adaptability that this strategic approach offers, you can make informed decisions that align with your business specific objectives. Whether you’re a commercial enterprise looking for cost-effective solutions or a business in transition, Vietnam stands as a dynamic and strategic outsourcing destination, ready to accelerate growth and transformation.



Value, speed, and scale: A new era for operations in Asia – McKinsey & Company

Read More:

Top 5 Benefits of Outsourcing to Vietnam

How to Manage Your Offshore Teams

Exploring the Pros and Cons of Outsourcing: A Strategic Move for Australian Businesses

6 Issues to consider before outsourcing your software development

Cost-Effective Strategies: Outsourcing IT Services to Vietnam

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are some common misconceptions about outsourcing, and how do they impact businesses' decisions regarding outsourcing strategies?

Common misconceptions about outsourcing often revolve around fixed percentage requirements, like the myth of the 51% rule. These misconceptions can lead businesses to make decisions based on inaccurate information, potentially limiting their ability to optimise outsourcing strategies. For instance, the belief that outsourcing must adhere to a strict percentage rule may deter companies from exploring outsourcing options that could be beneficial but fall below that threshold.

How has Vietnam emerged as a prominent tech hub, and what specific advantages does it offer for businesses considering outsourcing?

Vietnam has rapidly emerged as a tech hub, particularly in software development, due to several key factors. First, it offers a highly skilled IT workforce at a significantly lower cost compared to Western countries, making it an attractive destination for businesses seeking cost-effective solutions. Additionally, Vietnam’s business environment is evolving rapidly, providing a conducive atmosphere for innovation and growth. These advantages make Vietnam an appealing option for businesses considering outsourcing, especially in the tech sector.

In what ways do shifting market dynamics and technological advancements influence the decision-making process for businesses when it comes to outsourcing, particularly in relation to the percentage of work outsourced?

The decision-making process for businesses regarding outsourcing is influenced by various factors, including shifting market dynamics and technological advancements. For example, advancements in communication technology and project management tools have made it easier for businesses to collaborate with offshore teams, potentially increasing the percentage of work outsourced. Additionally, changing market conditions may prompt businesses to reconsider their outsourcing strategies, leading to fluctuations in the percentage of work outsourced as they adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

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