Top 20 outsourcing advisory and consulting firms of the globe

10 May 2016 10 min. read

IAOP, a global association that promotes and represents the outsourcing industry, has released the 2016 edition of its annual ‘World's Best Outsourcing Advisors’. The prestigious ranking showcases 20 advisory and management consultancy firms which in the eyes of the governing body stand out from the crowd when it comes to advisory services in the outsourcing domain. 

Every year the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP), founded in 2005, conducts research into the quality of outsourcing services provided by professional services firms. Based on the research, the association reveals two rankings: ‘The World’s Best Outsourcing Service Providers’, a list of the top 100 providers that offer the full spectrum of outsourcing services (across industries and functional areas) and ‘The World’s Best Outsourcing Advisors’, a list of the 20 leading outsourcing consultancies.

The World’s Best Outsourcing Advisors
For the 2016 edition of the ‘World's Best Outsourcing Advisors’ list, consulting firms were judged on five key factors: size and growth, quality of services and delivery, awards / certification, innovation and the way how corporate social responsibility (CSR) is institutionalised within company operations*. The judging was based on a rigorous scoring methodology (led by a 10-member jury) as well as on an independent review by a panel of IAOP customer members. “Buyers understand there are hundreds of qualified service providers and advisors out there, but what they really need to understand now is what makes each one exceptional,” says Demi Hamill CEO of IAOP. “The World's Best Outsourcing Advisors list does just that.”

IAOP - World's best outsourcing advisors 2016

Out of the hundreds of applications, a total of twenty professional services firms made the final cut – the select group of consultancies belong, according to Hamill, to the elite in the outsourcing consulting landscape. “It is not easy to be included in the list of the World’s Best Outsourcing Advisors,” says IAOP Chairman Michael Corbett. 

Among the heralded consultancies are three of the Big Four: Deloitte, EY and KPMG. The latter firm comprises a team of 1,100 advisors globally specialised in outsourcing advisory (across functions such as finance, supply chain management, technology) and shared services expertise (Business Process Outsourcing, IT Outsourcing), and, on the back of its heritage, KPMG received top scores in all judging categories. The firm was also recognised for the quality of its thought leadership, with in particular its quarterly Pulse Survey and ITO Service Provider Performance and Satisfaction Study (SPPS) garnering praise. “The all-star ratings awarded by the independent panel of IAOP judges underscore KPMG's passion and singular focus on delivering transformational value to our clients,” says David Brown, global lead of KPMG’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Advisory.

Deloitte, which has made the top 20 since 2010, also earned a distinction as a ‘top performer’, boasting, among others, perfect scores in three out of five major judging categories (innovation, CSR and quality of services and delivery). “The recognition acknowledges our deep experience and knowledge in Finance, Human Capital, IT and other frequently outsourced functions, as well as our ability to help organisations throughout the outsourcing and shared services lifecycle,” states a spokesperson of the Big Four giant.

EY too has of late grown into a household name in the World's Best Outsourcing Advisors ranking, while compared to last year, Strategy& – formerly Booz & Company and today the strategy consulting unit of PwC – has been excluded from the list. The Boston Consulting Group enters the ranking for the first time since the list’s inception – the Boston based consultancy focuses mainly on management and strategic IT advisory engagements within the outsourcing realm. Alsbridge, Avasant, Pace Harmon and Quint Wellington Redwood – four consultancies that specialise in outsourcing consulting – all retained their position in the IAOP list. Kevin Parikh, Avasant Global CEO, reflects on the recognition: “At Avasant, our solutions transcend traditional models and focus on delivering low cost, high-value opportunities. We are thrilled to know that our innovative methods continue to leave a lasting mark in the industry.”

Netherlands-based Quint has been named a World's Best Outsourcing Advisor for the third year in succession, and this year achieved the highest possible scores in the categories client service, awards / certification and innovation. “Achieving such a wonderful position is hard enough, staying there is even harder. But we've managed to do it,” comments Alex van den Bergh, Sourcing Advisory Lead at Quint.

Marc Tanowitz, a Managing Director at Pace Harmon, a US based transformation advisory founded in 2003, says: “Receiving the World’s Best Outsourcing Advisor distinction from IAOP once again is a testament to our team’s proven real-world expertise in leading complex business transformations and dedication to generating optimised outcomes based on each client’s needs.”

Elixirr, a London based management consultancy, has made the prestigious directory for the 5th year running. “Outsourcing advisory has been part of our lifeblood since we founded Elixirr six years ago and we are extremely proud to continue to be recognised for excellence in this area today,” reflects says Stephen Newton, Managing Partner of Elixirr. The recognition by IAOP follows shortly after the National Outsourcing Association (NOA), the UK counterpart of the US association, named Elixirr the ‘European Outsourcing Advisory of the Year’.

Zinnov, an Indian origin management consulting firm with six offices across the globe, gained a spot in the list for the eighth year in a row. Pari Natarajan, CEO of Zinnov, says the recognition represents “a moment of immense pride” for the consultancy. Atul Vashistha, CEO of Neo Group, says he is “thrilled over the continued recognition”. He adds: “Clients choose Neo Group over other management consulting firms, research firms and globalisation/sourcing advisory firms because of our deep experience, real-time knowledge, proven & proprietary methodologies and track record of success. We are determined to maintain the focus on co-creating with our clients to achieve extraordinary outcomes and solve business challenges.” Information Services Group, a Stamford (US) based company with more than 1,000 employees in 21 countries, also made the top outsourcing ranking, recognised, among others, for the quality of its research, engagement delivery and innovative suite of solutions.

Law firms
The World’s Best Outsourcing Advisors ranking in addition includes eight law firms with a leading footprint in the outsourcing arena: Baker & McKenzie (one of the three largest law firms in the world), UK headquartered Bird & Bird (1,100 lawyers in 28 offices globally), DLA Piper (the third largest law firm in the US), Foley & Lardner (just under 1,000 lawyers; predominantly in the US), Kirkland & Ellis (a top 10 players in the US), Mayer Brown (a top 15 player globally), Olswang (founded in 1981 in the UK) and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman (one of the oldest law firms in the US).

According to Mark Leach, Partner and Head of Bird & Bird’s Outsourcing practice, the law firm advises on some of the most complex and innovative outsourcing transactions across the globe. “We are delighted,” he remarks, adding: “This is a real testament to the strength and expertise of our international team and its commitment to achieving the best outcomes for our clients.” Kit Burden, global co-head of DLA Piper's Technology Sector, says on behalf of his firm that the team “couldn't be more excited to be part of this select group of outsourcing advisors”, adding “From robotic process automation to cloud services, new technologies are constantly forcing us to innovate and improve. We look forward to continuing to lead the way in the years to come.” 

Kirkland & Ellis continues its impressive track record – the US origin law firm, founded in 1909, has been named to the list of top outsourcing advisors each year since IAOP established the research. “We are proud of our continued recognition by IAOP as a leader in the outsourcing space,” remarks Kirkland partner Neil Hirshman. “Kirkland attorneys have long been leaders in the field, and this recognition is a testament to the breadth and depth of our practice,” he adds. 

Olswang, an international law firm specialised in technology, media and telecoms (TMT), qualified as a top performer for the third year in a row. The London headquartered (~700 employees in 7 offices) has in recent years advised dozens of multinational companies on outsourcing transactions, including Marks & Spencer, BP and Unilever. Dominic Dryden, Partner at Olswang, comments: “The award demonstrates the pedigree of our Technology and Sourcing practice and the value and strategic importance of the projects our clients entrust us with. 2015 was another strong year for our Sourcing practice, and I am grateful to all of our colleagues for putting in such a sterling performance and making this possible.”

Related news: World's Best Outsourcing Advisors 2015.

* The five categories are formally named: Size and Growth, Customer References, Delivery Excellence, Programs for Innovation and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).