Outsourcing vs Body Shopping vs Consulting

Outsourcing vs Body Shopping vs Consulting

IT-enabled services have been available for at least 30-40 years. Starting with the popular pet name of body shopping and progressing to the new age terminology of outsourcing and the fancier term of consultancy.

I’m sure many eyebrows are already raised! How can we elevate consultancy to the same level as body shopping?

Body Shopping

There was body shopping at the start of the Indian IT evolution. Firms began this practice by recruiting information technology workers in order to contract out their IT services requirements on a short-term basis.

The majority of them referred to themselves as consultants or consulting firms. Large corporations used to mock this, claiming that they outsourced individuals rather than traditional IT services such as application development, maintenance, and testing.

However, body shopping was preferred because it was 1. cost-effective, 2. capital-saving, and 3. reduced overheads and head counts.


Outsourcing generally entails contracting out a portion of a business process or non-core activities to another party. The American concept of outside resourcing, known as body shopping, has been around since the 1970s and 1980s. Outsourcing may involve the transfer of employees and assets from the parent to the contractor. Even government agencies are outsourced to for-profit contractors.

Outsourcing includes both foreign and domestic outsourcing, as well as the relocation of a business function to another country, also known as offshoring. The goal is to benefit from lower-cost international sourcing. In addition, resourcing does not only refer to human resources. All resources required to run the IT and business, if cost effective. SaaS and cloud computing are two examples.

There is a lot of bad press and friction in international relations to control or even stop outsourcing in today’s ITES. According to the viewpoint, it destroys opportunities for local talent!!


The noun is defined as the practice of providing expert advice to other professionals. In other words, an outside expert is hired to come in and advise, train, facilitate, create strategies, and streamline operations for a company. The more elite form of consulting focuses on strategy formulation and tactical planning for operations and business growth, as well as sustenance and so on.

When you remove the elite posturing and pricing, you’re still using a person or a bod or getting outside help. In that sense, it is the same as body shopping or outsourcing.

The only difference is that it may be more expensive and not required on a large scale. However, as time passed, some companies and clients hired consultants or experts to set up operational aspects such as program management, centers of excellence for specific areas such as design, testing, and so on.

For business and IT, consulting to address a specific challenge or initiative, new strategy or model or technology or framework or alignment after a new market, merger, product, etc.

Large consulting practices – what do you call them?

I worked in a consulting division of an ITES company with over 500 employees and a revenue of $200 million USD. Clients received a large number of program and portfolio specialists, as well as captive development center managers.

Specialists in configuration, release, testing, and quality were provided in large numbers to assist in establishing these functions, selecting tools and implementing or improving operations, or even running the show efficiently. Agile scrum masters, coaches, and ‘specialists’ in DevOps – you name it, it was done.

So, if this isn’t outsourcing or body shopping while also providing expert advice, what is it? So this is a mix of everything? What is the flaw in this model? Nothing, in my opinion. Anything that is profitable for your company is a good strategy and model.

Debate of whether this is consulting or not – a paradigm shift!

Let the debate begin, but please keep an open mind and analyze whether facts show that customers and service providers benefit from operational consulting. If that’s the case, isn’t this a viable business model and strategy to pursue? How can it be condemned as incorrect or derogatorily referred to as not consulting?

What is wrong with consulting as outsourcing if we can create new models and concepts that are diametrically opposed to old established concepts:)

Isn’t it what we mean by outsourcing if you hire experts from outside? So consulting is also an example of outsourcing. A skilled subject matter expert is another body – isn’t that also body shopping?

If experts are needed and paid for by a client, then why not provide them? If they advice and improve operations, results and creates new strategy which saves costs, improves efficiency, supports growth and creates or sustains business growth, then why not provide that also as a service?

Consulting is not just for the big 5 or big names who talk big jargon and buzz words. Not for only the branded top level advisory only. Consulting in my view can be for the day to day operation improvement and operational benefits also. Consulting need not be just addressing the big picture in innovation, research, strategy etc.

Not only for the overall business but also for IT operations you can do the same. IT can be done for any area in business or IT. In my view it is also consulting. So the entire business world needs a paradigm shift in looking at IT consulting is what I feel that is required for healthy growth of Business and IT partnership.

A true paradigm shift in Business views, values and concepts of excellence and innovation with in the mindset of leaders is what is needed.

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