By Kevin Meyer
It's starting to be a trend... a good one for a change. Companies rethinking their outsourcing strategy after realizing how traditional accounting puts the blinders on total cost... and opportunity. A hat tip to regular reader Jason for shooting me this article on NCR.
And the inevitable happened.
NCR makes ATMs at its own plants in China, Hungary, and India. The devices are also assembled in South Carolina and offshore in plants run by Flextronics, which in 2007 acquired Solectron, NCR’s original contractor. Among the headaches: Because ATMs are so complex, NCR engineers often had to jet around the world to sort out production glitches and design changes. This led to delays just as NCR was launching a line of ATMs that simplify making deposits and verifying transactions. “By outsourcing, we just couldn’t move as quickly,” Nuti says. E.C. Sykes, Flextronics’ president for industrial products, says: “We did have some bumps with this product line.”
So what is NCR doing?
Why would they do that? Doesn't it fly in the face of the quest for "cheap labor"?
Nuti and his team decided they had to halve development times of intelligent, easier-to-use ATMs—currently 12 to 18 months—and consolidate production. Because many ATMs are custom-designed, NCR wants buyers to be directly involved in development.
The plant is just a two-hour drive from three key spots: NCR’s main customer service center, its innovation hub, and its new headquarters in the Atlanta area. “We want quantum-leap changes in our cost structure,” Nuti says. “To effect that change, you have to control your destiny.”
Yes, value is created by more than just a pair of hands. Chasing low labor costs ignores many other costs, values, and especially opportunities inherent in any supply chain. Congrats to NCR for realizing that the traditional P&L and balance sheet is just one part of the picture.