architettura in outsourcing
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Outsourcing: what does it mean?

Even if we think about it, it does not seem that there is an Italian word suitable to translate the English “outsourcing”. The English language has this property to make the concept clear without much effort. Out (out) + to source (tap into the source): = outsourcing: much easier and more precise than the Italian terms for externalize, offshore, delegate to third parties, which are pronounced with difficulty and that seem to create problems rather than solve them.

What is outsourcing?

Outsourcing is the solution that modern economics has found to reduce the direct costs, risks, investment expenses and give firms more flexibility, through contracting out certain tasks.

The practice, which began in the United States in the early Sixties, is now widespread even in Italian companies, both public and private.
The matter is complex and beyond the scope of our expertise, but we wanted to draw two general conclusions:

  • Outsourcing does not necessarily mean offshoring. In these cases, the benefit of subcontracting is incremented - but also polluted - by the exploitation of cheap labor and by the more permissive legislation in the field of environmental protection and safety at work of countries in the developing world.
  • Outsourcing is more effective and less "annoying" when applied to a B2B process (Business to Business) and also relates to the outsourcing of intellectual processes (knowledge process outsourcing KPO) instead of outsourcing best practice processes (BPO) side to consumers and to individual customers. It may seem to narrow the field, but not when you consider that in each case the volume of B2B transactions is much higher than that of B2C transactions (Business to Costumer).

Outsourcing and architecture

outsourcing and architecture

It is nice to think of the architect as a craftsman, a thinker, an intellectual worker, but the construction industry is vast and complex and the architect is just one of the many actors.
There are some specific phenomena, in our opinion, that cast the architect away from the craft of design:

  • Architecture involves heritage, land, landscape and the environment; it cannot be separated from related disciplines such as, for example, urban planning and engineering. All these issues are governed by complex rules (particularly complex in Italy), which require much dedication and sometimes have nothing to do with the architecture itself. This means the production of a large number of documents, the compilation of which is often tedious and of little intrinsic value.
  • The project, instrument “par excellence” of the building pocess, is developed by computer support, especially by CAD. As happened in other fields, this tool has revolutionized the world of construction. But what, in our opinion, reversed the action of designing (I think and then I see) was the ability to change with little apparent effort, and for an infinite number of times, the object of the building: the revision has become the rule . In the pre-computer era, before you got a project you had to do all the necessary checks: the revision was seen as a "correction" and was considered a possible practice, however eventual, because slow and expensive. Now it is exactly the opposite. Remember those labels revision placed at the bottom right of the drawing, just above the title block of the drawings? They are disappearing, simply because they cannot keep up with the same revisions which should list and describe. The other culprit of the phenomenon of "endless revision" is practically "infinite availability" of multiple technical solutions and materials that must be searched, checked, compared and finally chosen.

This is the world of the outsourcer in the field of architecture and construction, the compiler of boring documentation required by an even closer legislation, the auditor of designs already underway or completed. Collettivo 4 Outsourcing should be considered as a specialist in the business "neglected" by the client-architect, who can return to his main business: design.

In Italy, the Ministry of Labour is slowly tightening the circle around the sea of false VAT numbers, the sea in which the design studies, forced by a labor policy difficult to implement, have been forced to swim.
Despite the postponement of the controls and the introduction of the possibility of exclusion for members of professional bodies, the Ministry intends to unearth the false VAT numbers via some indicator elements:

  • hours of work summing up to eight months over two years;
  • more than 80% of the total income received by the same employer in two years;
  • fixed location of work at a customer’s site, not necessarily exclusive.

Outsourcing in architecture can thus be considered on one side as a practice which has always existed, to which we are simply giving a name and new development, and on the other as the solution to an old problem waiting for answers.