Mary Pasby, Jaffe Associates

Michael Mainelli, Z/Yen Limited

Professional firms are not strangers to outsourcing. Outsourcing contract fees have fuelled growth. Nor are the larger accountancy firms just independent advisors. Their consultancy practices are increasingly less consultants and more outsourcing service providers, starting with core/non-core studies through to business process re-engineering and, in many cases, providing the outsourced service themselves. Andersen Consulting has long seen its competition as the global business process outsourcers such as EDS, CSC or IBM, rather than its fellow accountancy-based professional service firms. Yet professional service firms seem hypocritical when we look at their management and business processes. Outsourcing is an interesting and often valuable booster to their clients' performance, but has little sway within a practice. Is there any basis for this hypocrisy?

Given the scale of outsourcing and the way it has swept through, and sometimes swept up, global industry, the professions need to ask penetrating questions about their apparent lack of outsourcing.