"Outsourcing" ISO standard helps on more than just provider selection

// IT-Outsourcing

Münster-based business consultancy noventum consulting co-writes ISO 37500 "Guidance on Outsourcing"

In 2015, the internationally standardised ISO standard ISO 37500 will regulate all essential details in outsourcing. Experts from 42 nations are participating in the development of this standard that is recognised worldwide, among them Frank Wübken, IT outsourcing expert and management consultant at noventum consulting. Frank Wübken is participating in the development of the standard as "Head of Delegation" of the German participants. In this function, he participated in an international conference in Delhi, India, at the end of February.

Outsourcing has been one of the top topics in business for many years already. For quite some time, switching providers (next generation outsourcing) has moved into the focus of interest, exit and migration scenarios are by now a fixed component of a professional sourcing strategy. As early as 2010, the German Institute for Standardisation (DIN - Deutsches Institut für Normung) published the first specification regarding the topic of outsourcing, DIN SPEC 1041 "Outsourcing of technology-oriented knowledge-intensive services". An international working group of experts has been working with the same professional focus on the ISO 37500 for several years. The group has made it its objective to complete an internationally applicable ISO standard by 2015. Frank Wübken was initially invited to participate in this panel as "German Expert"; at presented he is active as "Head of Delegation".


In 2015, the worldwide standardised ISO standard will regulate all essential details in outsourcing. The project committee for the development of the ISO standard 37500 published a next working draft at the end of February 2014 in Delhi, India. Experts from 42 nations are participating in this worldwide project. "We are now a big step further ahead on the path towards publishing the standard. The objective is to have it completed in 2015 and I expect us to be able to do so", Frank Wübken stated optimistically. The international standard:

  • covers the whole outsourcing life-cycle, defines the required terms, and compiles the known concepts and processes from the point of view of Best Practices;
  • provides detailed instructions for the outsourcing lifecycle processes;
  • is phrased industry-independent and can accordingly be adjusted to the specific situations of any industry;
  • is aimed at allowing for cooperation models that are advantageous to both the customer and the provider side and therefore provides for each outsourcing phase the corresponding prerequisites for all parties involved in the process.


Ultimately, a process definition such as the one stipulated by the ISO standardisation, means more certainty for all parties involved that they are doing the right thing.


The ISO standard is a guideline in which the main phases, processes and organisational aspects of outsourcing are described, independent of the size or the sector of the branch of industry or trade. Tried and tested standards for complex projects are covered in individual chapters such as "Project Management", "ISO 9001 – Quality Management", "IT Security Management", "Risk Management" as well as - of course - "IT Service Management".

The guideline provides companies with a good foundation, on the basis of which they can successfully enter into outsourcing agreements. Providers and recipients of outsourcing services will profit equally from the new standard. Mostly the recipients of outsourcing services that do not yet have a clear understanding of outsourcing governance will appreciate the ISO standard. But to providers, too, an opportunity is arising to profile themselves and their services in light of the standard.


Any standard is only as good as the degree of its application. To that extent, in light of the complexity of the topic of outsourcing even prior to the finalisation of the international ISO standard, the question arises whether a detailed guideline in the future would bring additional quality into the topic. To date, there are no sponsors for such a certification idea, but the examples from the ITIL or COBIT environment make it sufficiently clear which benefits an intensification of the topic would bring with it. Whether people, companies or service packages should be the subject of a certification might be a first specific question whose controversial discussion could pay off.


For noventum consulting GmbH, the active support of the ISO standard development is an important supplement to its project work. Of growing importance to the Münster-based IT management consultants is, first and foremost, the topic of offshoring as well as specifically the cooperation of our customers with Indian or American providers. noventum consulting provides services to customers in the Arabic region and in South Africa, which illustrates the international reach of this topic. "With respect to the topic of outsourcing, our customers are increasingly interested in economic steps that provide concrete results. The cooperation with providers that are located at the other end of the world also is no longer taboo for medium-sized companies. Therefore, a standardised framework that provides all parties involved with clarity and security is all the more important," Wübken is pointing out.

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noventum consulting

Thomas Dengler

Senior Manager Business Development and Sales

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