IT malfunction

Operational functions are returning in-house in what could be a sea change

Osborne Clarke’s (OC) server failed on the first day after its IT team’s return from outsourcer Integreon, but this was one small drop in an ocean twice the size of the Atlantic. Not only is the firm “excited about welcoming back familiar faces”, it is also said the returning staff were jubilant to be coming ‘home’.

Last Wednesday (1 May), 80 OC staff returned to the firm covering its IT, office services, learning and development, events, document services, client relationship management and network resources. Integreon holds onto the firm’s information services and business intelligence unit and the emergency contact line, while seven OC-related employees at Integreon are moving to Mitie, another outsourcer.

CMS Cameron McKenna is also in the process of pulling parts of its Integreon contract (a spokesperson was unable to confirm the outcome of its review), while Bristol firm TLT ended its arrangement for library services last year. OC and CMS are some of Integreon’s biggest clients. Both gave it a lot of business and both have kept a degree of work with the provider.

The scenario indicates that firms might be unwise to put all their operational eggs in one outsourcing basket. Using a more diversified outsourcing portfolio may be more sensible. After all, Integreon has its strengths, namely the high-expertise, knowledge-based functions such as legal process outsourcing (LPO) and research. This is said to be the area where it is increasing its focus.

Other industries have recognised this: investment banks Nomura, Morgan Stanley and Barclays use Integreon for these capabilities, while some law firms have hired it for LPO in the US and India. Foot Anstey engaged Integreon for library and information services

in 2010. Maybe outsourcing of the purely operational functions has had its day.

OC has changed during the four years of the Integreon contract, becoming a more European firm with a heftier London office. It seems Integreon no longer suited OC, but was fit enough to hold onto its information services unit. May be the next step for law firms will be the horses-for-courses strategy.