Global Sourcing: One Company's Approach to Managing Information Services: When Its Library in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Could No Longer Support a Rapidly Growing Demand for Library Services Worldwide, Franklin Templeton Saw India as an Opportunity to Expand the Library Team and Improve Access to Information across Multiple Locations

By Brigevich, Larisa | Information Outlook, September 2008 | Go to article overview

Global Sourcing: One Company's Approach to Managing Information Services: When Its Library in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Could No Longer Support a Rapidly Growing Demand for Library Services Worldwide, Franklin Templeton Saw India as an Opportunity to Expand the Library Team and Improve Access to Information across Multiple Locations


Brigevich, Larisa, Information Outlook


Offshoring library jobs is a sensitive topic in library circles, often generating images of downsizing or even closing corporate libraries in the United States. The growing anxieties and concerns about losing our jobs to the emerging ranks of knowledge workers in China, India, Eastern Europe and other developing countries are not all unfounded. According to Forrester Research, by 2015, at least 3.3 million white-collar jobs and $136 billion in wages will shift from the U.S. to lower-wage countries. Librarians and information professionals in the developed countries need new strategies and skills to face challenges and take advantage of the opportunities presented by globalization. This article is a story of how a one corporate library has turned threats of globalization into opportunities for librarians and their clients.

At Franklin Templeton, when the library of four information professionals in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, could no longer support a rapidly growing demand for library services worldwide, library leaders saw India as an opportunity to expand the library team and improve access to information across multiple locations. In a short three-year period, the library has built a truly global operation that now supports investment professionals in 20 countries. Contrary to popular belief, sourcing to India didn't reduce head count in the United States; instead it helped the library build a case for further expansion globally.

To establish the Indian operation, the library had to overcome a lot of challenges and learn many new things. This included "selling" a concept of the global library platform to senior management; competing for funding; building a virtual team from scratch; and dealing with cultural differences, communication gaps and many other considerations--all of which required hard work, courage and a lot of entrepreneurial spirit.

Deciding on a Sourcing Model

Different companies use different strategies for sourcing offshore. Common business models include third party outsourcing, "do-it-yourself" global sourcing, joint ventures and hybrids.

In the early stages of the sourcing movement, cost-cutting was the main reason why companies moved their back-office functions, such as data entry, transaction processing and call centers, to lower-wage countries. Today, in addition to cost reduction, more and more companies consider offshoring as the only way to better manage risks, enhance productivity, improve services and grow market share globally.

Franklin Templeton chose to go with the "do-it-yourself" global sourcing model. The company had built a strong business presence in India since 1995, long before India was recognized as the emerging economic power. The main difference between global sourcing and outsourcing is that the company has total control of business strategy and priorities, proprietary technologies, processes and resources, human capital, etc., which can be leveraged across the company's many subsidiaries.

Availability of the Global Sourcing Program was a decisive factor for the library moving forward with a global growth plan. The Global Sourcing team provided administrative and technology support, helped to build a cost/benefit analysis and acquire funding, and provided recruitment support and office space planning assistance.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Planning and Implementation

With no handbooks and how-to manuals on building global libraries, library leaders had to rely on general guidance from the Global Sourcing specialists, as well as a timeless "trial and error" method. The planning phase took about four months as we tried to find answers to lots of questions.

* Can India meet the library's staffing needs?

* Is there an adequate talent pool of research librarians?

* What processes will be moving to India?

* Which client groups will India librarians support? …

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Global Sourcing: One Company's Approach to Managing Information Services: When Its Library in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Could No Longer Support a Rapidly Growing Demand for Library Services Worldwide, Franklin Templeton Saw India as an Opportunity to Expand the Library Team and Improve Access to Information across Multiple Locations
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