In order to raise its level of value creation, it is imperative
that a company tackles the concept of "sourcing", enabling it
to focus on specific core processes, while other companies implement the
less profitable ones. A sourcing decision must, however, be carefully
considered, since it is a key factor behind a company's future
competitiveness (Langhans, 2007). But in actual practice, it is
frequently the case that decisions of this kind are not based on a
theoretical foundation or detailed analysis of in-house value creation
but principally on potential cost-savings in a sub-area of goods or
services (Best/Weth, 2005 and Rebouillon/Bauer, 2001). Basing sourcing
decisions on the observation of only one part of the whole is an
insufficient measure, and this is demonstrated by the fact that the
expected cost advantages frequently fail to materialize and that, in a
lot of cases, problems arise with regard to quality (Cooper/Kaplan, 1988
and Grum/Schneider/Frohmuller, 2008).
This paper will demonstrate the relevance of an understanding of
value creation if a company is to have sustainable success, and the
special significance of the way in which sourcing decisions are handled.
It also provides a systematization of potential sourcing alternatives
(Section 2), and shows how a fundamental understanding of value creation
finds application in a concrete case study from the finance industry
(Section 3). The importance of an understanding of processes is
highlighted and reflected in our Source Board. The Source Board is an
analytical tool that facilitates sourcing decisions. Its compilation
entails an intensive analysis of value creation and the processes
involved within the company and results in an overview of sourcing
positioning for developing strategies or benchmarking within the
framework of strategic competitive positioning.
2. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SOURCING FOR VALUE CREATION
First, in Section 2.1 we look at the significance of a fundamental
understanding of value creation for the success of a company. Building
on this basis, in Section 2.2 we examine the necessary modifications to
this traditional understanding of value creation with regard to the
long-term viability of companies, and look at the significance of
sourcing. In Section 2.3 we provide a systematization of sourcing
options, which includes on the one hand various strategies for companies
and on the other hand serves as a basis for the necessary systemization
of our Source Board, as introduced in Section 3.3.
An Understanding of Value Creation as a Foundation for a
Identifying a company's individual core competences and
adjusting its business operations to fit these, enables a company to
differentiate and to successfully position itself on the market.
PORTER's value chain model, which was developed in the 1980s, is
helpful for structurally depicting the strategically relevant activities
of (producing) companies. The motivation of this model is the fact that
competitive advantages cannot merely be elucidated by observing a
company as a whole but rather that competitive advantages arise out of
interplay between the various activities within a company (Porter,
2004). However, this is only the case if the product or service has an
(identifiable) value for the customer (Ramirez, 1999 and
Lombriser/Abplanalp, 2005). The value chain makes visible a
company's value creation, which is composed of the costs of
resource input and the profit (or the profit margin). As Figure 1 shows,
value creation is broken down into primary activities--which are linked
to the production and the selling of a product and to customer
service--and into support activities, which aid the implementation of
these activities and in some cases enable it (Porter, 2004).
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
PORTER named his 5 primary activities inbound logistics, operations
(incorporating all production steps and all transformation activities),
outbound logistics, marketing & sales, and service. His supporting
activities are firm infrastructure, human resource management,
technology development and procurement (Porter, 2004). Depending on the
model's application, the value chain has to be adapted and modified
to suit the specific features of a company. (This issue will be dealt
with further on in this paper and illustrated by the case study).
If we take a closer look at the value chain, we notice that the
activities are not only viewable in isolation of each other, but that
linkages exist between them. Via these linkages, information or even
tangible objects can be exchanged. If we extend our observation and go
beyond the observation level of one single company, we can see
"vertical linkages" between that company and its suppliers and
customers. The company value chain is only a small part of a larger
value chain system, to which other company value chains belong, e.g.
those of the suppliers and buyers (Porter, 2004. For more detailed
information about the structure of value creation, see e.g. von Nitzsch,
Sustainability via a Changed Understanding of Value Creation
When secondary functions, such as IT, are completely outsourced,
the relative vertical production integration within an individual
company decreases. Service functions are reorganized; administration and
production functions are, to a great extent, separated. Consequently,
the traditional company business model with integrated value creation is
being replaced by models of networked and cross-company production and
service provision (Sokolovsky, 2005 and Speek, 2008).
In the literature, this particular development is referred to as
deconstruction. It involves in particular "the decomposition and
innovative reconstruction of the existing economic and organizational
structures which define a business" (von Oetinger, 2000,
translation author's own). The objective is to develop new business
alternatives in such a way that the old and rigid stages of value
creation are decomposed. In this way, innovative value creation
architectures can be created as part of a value network (von Oetinger,
2000; Normann/Ramirez, 1993; Winkler/Slamanig/Kaluza, 2008;
Winkler/Schmetisch/Kaluza, 2008 and Schnedler, 2001).
[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]
Until the late 1980s, the concept of "deconstruction" was
little known, and company value chains were regarded as being relatively
stable. Particularly larger companies occupied a great part of their
industry's value chain themselves, and had a high degree of
vertical integration. One main reason for this situation was that of
clearly differentiated markets which had arisen from the high costs
which occurred when different value-added steps had to be coordinated.
The enormous amount of data that had to be exchanged between these
stages could only travel short distances, i.e. within a company
(Heuskel, 1999). New I&C technologies--in particular the
Internet--led to the end of the trade-off between the amount of
information and the distance it had to travel, because its dissemination
and processing became less expensive--and continue to do so
(Evans/Wurster, 1997). Globalization and the related opening up,
deregulating and harmonizing of world markets have also enabled global
sourcing of products and services. Modern processing and distribution
technologies have also made buying on the world market less expensive
and have led to an enhanced quality of goods. All of these factors have
contributed to the success of deconstruction (Stern, 2000).
In the wake of these multiple changes, many vertically integrated
companies lost their biggest competitive advantages and a rigid
relationship between the individual value creation stages was no longer
imperative. These changes have had the effect that there are now less
vertically integrated companies. Traditionally, profit is assessed as
being the mean of all the value creation stages which are incorporated
in a company. Through deconstruction of the value chain, each individual
stage now has to compete with its alternatives (see Figure 3). For each
task, the decision has to be made as to whether it is profitable within
the company or whether another company could do it more profitably
(Normann/Ramirez, 1998 and Winkler/Slamanig/Kaluza, 2008).
[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]
Systematisation of Sourcing Alternatives
It transpired that in the wake of deconstruction the linkages
between the various value creation stages have weakened and that there
is a distinct trend away from vertically integrated companies towards
networks (cf. Figure 2). In networks, the value creation stages are
occupied by those companies that are best for doing the job from an
economic and a qualitative perspective.
On the path towards new value creation architectures, sourcing--in
all its various forms--is a central tool (Achenbach/Moormann/Schober,
2004). As a generic term, sourcing covers all the different varieties of
product and service procurement. Outsourcing refers to the utilization
of external resources for fulfilling in-house functions and insourcing
is where a company provides products or services for external third
parties. Further sub areas are co-sourcing, where the product or service
is jointly provided in cooperation between employees of the outsourcing
company and external resources. There is also the (classic) own
production (Recker/Jahn/Jarke, 2003). Own production, co-sourcing (also
known as cooperation) and outsourcing are all various ways of procuring
a product or service for a company's own use. On the other hand,
insourcing involves a company producing goods or services in-house but
for other companies. These three options for procuring products or
services for a company's own use are classic courses of action when
it comes to a "make or buy" decision.
The four above named types of sourcing can be differentiated
according to their coordination and charted on a scale of different
coordination types ranging between hierarchy (where the coordination
instrument is the issuing of directives) to market (where the
coordination instrument is the price) (Schober, 2004). Figure 4
[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]
In the case of outsourcing, a product or service is bought in from
the market by an insourcer at an arranged price. If the product or
service stems from within the company itself, the process is coordinated
by directives being issued. Co-sourcing lies in between these two
extremes of outsourcing and own production because control over a
particular value chain stage is not completely relinquished
(Recker/Jahn/Jarke, 2003). In-between these various forms of sourcing
there are other possibilities which change the form of cooperation. For
instance, between outsourcing and cooperation, there might be long-term
delivery/supply contracts (Picot, 1991). Outsourcing and cooperation
require a respective partner company, whereas own production does not.
This compact overview of the main sourcing alternatives is intended
to show what is meant when we speak of "sourcing decisions".
These decisions handle the question of which sourcing form is meaningful
for a particular part of a company's value creation, whereby such
decisions (may) change the company's value chain. In order to avoid
errors being made during the decision making process, it is necessary to
first identify the individual (relevant) processes and to assess their
share of value creation for a company. On the basis of such information,
potentials can be sketched out for deconstructing and re-forming the
Regarding the question of which sourcing alternative is the most
suitable, it is necessary to have detailed knowledge of the main
processes involved in the value creation of a company, and how they
interrelate. In a decision situation, a tool is required which helps to
clarify a company's own sourcing position in the main sub areas of
value creation, to recognise linkeages and to visualize the company
strategy as a whole, thus leading to sound decision making. A basis of
this kind also enables benchmarking in order to recognize--and
potentially question--differences between a company's strategic
positioning and that of its competitors. Such a tool is the Source
Board, which we shall introduce in the following. It has been derived
from the findings on the understanding of value creation and on the
significance of sourcing decisions. To facilitate an understanding of
this tool, we use a concrete case study from the financing industry.
3. CASE STUDY--VALUE CREATION IN A BANK
In our case study, we depict the sourcing strategy of a
full-service bank for business activities in consumer banking. Our
objective is to show the main activities involved in value creation and
to provide an overview of the current (in some cases very different and
therefore non-transparent) positioning in "make or buy"
decisions. On the basis of these activities, a complete overview as well
as a comparison with competitors, is compiled. This is done in three
Step one: First of all we identify areas of value creation and
their linkages. We do this by applying and adapting Porter's Value
chain. Although this information is still too abstract or rather
strategic for operative implementation, it does provide a basis for
further, more detailed, deliberations.
Step two: These more detailed deliberations serve to identify
processes and to provide a dynamic understanding of their interplay. The
value chain is extended by a detailed (core) process level.
Step three: In order to determine the company's own
positioning in a value network, its selected strategies are compiled in
a Source Board to provide an overview and enable benchmarking.
Further Developing and Transferring of the Value Chain onto Banks
Whereas PORTER focused his development of a value chain model on
producing companies, the transferring of the value creation model onto
service companies in general, and banks in particular, means that there
are peculiarities to be observed. Correspondingly, the model must be
adapted in order for it to be applied to such companies. The differences
in the structure of the value chain result mainly from the special
features of those services which themselves are of a "process"
character, since the process itself of producing a service is actually
the "service" (Stauss/Bruhn, 2007). Other constitutive
features are the "integration of the external factor"
(customer), the "intangibility" of the service and the large
"degree of individualization" (Meffert/Bruhn, 2006 and Maleri,
1991). One consequence is the "uno-actu principle", i.e.
direct contact between producer and consumer of a service
The integration of an external factor results from the customer--or
his respective object--being present during the service provision. The
customer is thus integrated into the service process and impacts on its
path and on its result. The customer may incorporate his own
preferences, which leads to a certain degree of individuality. The
necessary modifications of the value chain for service companies can be
derived from the before mentioned special features of service provision.
For instance, the activities marketing and sales, which are located in
PORTER's value chain behind logistics and operations, are now
positioned in front, because without customers being present, no
"production" of a service can be initiated. The actual
provision of the service to the customer has to be located in one of the
corresponding operations categories, whilst outbound logistics can be
largely ignored since there is a lack of storability and
transportability (Altobelli/Bouncken, 1998). SPIEGEL developed a value
chain model for service providers who have longer relationships with
customers entailing ongoing service provision (as is generally the case
[FIGURE 5 OMITTED]
As Figure 5 shows, the above mentioned differences have been taken
into consideration in this model in the area of primary activities.
Modifications have been made so that there are now two phases: preparing
business and continuing business relations. The value chain starts with
acquisition, which corresponds to the concept of "customer
pull" for services. This activity covers all those processes which
are related to customer acquisition and which are implemented via
"marketing mix" activities. The objective is to create a
long-term contractual relationship. Preparing the service is intended to
ensure that the service can be provided to a customer over the whole
length of the contract. It incorporates in particular preparatory
measures such as training courses or installing the necessary
infrastructure. These activities should only be implemented once per
customer or at very big intervals (Spiegel, 2003).
The phase of the continuing business relations begins with the
preparatory contact phase, while those measures are implemented which
follow on from talks with the customer. These are in particular the
temporal and organizational integration of the service at the
customer's. Following these preparatory phases, the activity
service provision takes place. In the follow-up contact phase, a final
exchange of information takes place between customer and provider in
order to improve the service if necessary. This phase may be seen as one
of quality or complaint management. Together, the last three activities
form a cycle which is followed through several times in the course of
the contractual relationship and which continually improves the process
of service provision (Benkenstein/Steiner/Spiegel, 2007).
Differences in the supporting activities are not so much
differences in the way activities are divided up but more in their
weighting and importance. Procuring entails principally the provision of
input goods and human resources, whereby the procuring can often only
take place after an order has been placed. In contrast with
PORTER's original value chain, technology development, which
SPIEGEL refers to as firm development since machines or facilities
rarely need to be developed, carries little weight. Particularly with
financial service providers, the focus is on I & C technologies. On
the other hand, firm infrastructure carries much more weight, because
administrative activities are more intense (Benkenstein/Steiner/Spiegel,
2007). This is also true for human resource management, because human
capital is usually the key resource of service provider firms
As banks are a very special type of service provider, it is
necessary to modify and adapt the value chain even more to the special
features and processes in order to be able to implement a detailed
analysis of the value creation stages involved. In the literature there
exist various studies on the value chains of banks, e.g. that of
Lamarque 1999 or Scheffer 2007. With regard to the necessary process
orientation in the second stage, the models of Lammers/Lohndorf/Weitzel
2004, Petry/Rohn 2005 and Falkenberg/Muller/Bonsch 2006 would appear to
be very suitable bases for creating a new model for consumer banking,
and we thus use these as a foundation for our own deliberations.
As a basis for examining the value creating activities in the
consumer banking sector we created a modified model for the case study.
It is based on the before mentioned value chain models and is
supplemented by the dynamic understanding of value creation in financial
institutions, as described in Section 3.2. Figure 6 shows the modified
value chain and emphasizes the distinctions between primary and support
activities. For the sake of clarity and the later application of the
model, the number of activities has been limited to include only 5 key
areas of value creation.
[FIGURE 6 OMITTED]
The primary activities consist of the elements sales, production
and transactions. Marketing has a special strategic position, because on
the one hand there are banks where marketing is a central part of
production and product development and on the other hand there are banks
where marketing is, for example, integrated in sales support and has a
corresponding supportive function. The support activities can be broken
down into administration and sales support. The respective core
processes within the 5 value creation stage of the modified model of a
value chain specifically for the consumer banking sector are shown in
Figure 7. The 5 value creation stages will be specified later in this
Observation and Analysis of the Processes in Banks
It would seem necessary to provide further details about core
processes, since a meaningful sourcing decision cannot usually be made
at the value creation-stage level owing to the many different processes
involved. For example, if we look at the value creation stage
"sales support", this subsumes core processes such as customer
management and technology/IT. These are, of course, processes which
support marketing and sales activities but they are so different from
each other and can be carried out by other co-workers or in different
locations. Consequently, it would be feasible for one process to be
outsourced to an external service provide whilst the other one stays in
the company. As the core processes shown in figure 7 are mostly
self-explanatory, a more detailed description of them is not given here.
If more detailed information is needed, see Falkenberg/Muller/Bonsch
[FIGURE 7 OMITTED]
Depending on the degree of integration, sourcing activities may be
considered if a clearly defined area is identifiable. Otherwise, a core
process is difficult to source because, for instance, different
employees are each responsible for a specific share of marketing
activities which have a high degree of connectivity in their processes.
Supporting activities are divided into sales support and administration.
Administration is itself divided up into management tasks and
administrative tasks. With regard to sourcing activities, this
differentiation is necessary because core tasks of a management (in
contrast with general administrative activities) are--on account of
existing legal restrictions, not sourceable (Falkenberg/Muller/Bonsch,
2006 and Schuller/Simon, 2008).
As previously mentioned, several variations of bank value chains
exist and it is of course debatable which form is the optimal one. This
depends however on the individual case and banking institution involved.
For this particular case study, the selected value chain seemed most
suitable because its modular structure enables it to be adapted to
specific institutes and to illustrate their differences and specific
features, as is required for benchmarking at a later stage. Its detailed
view of the core processes is also an advantage with regard to its later
application, because the processes to be analyzed are standardized and
fixed. As previously mentioned, both of the value chains shown in
Figures 6 and 7 demonstrate clearly the various value creation stages
and core processes, and will be used as a basis for further
However, this static form of representation does not totally do
justice to the real-life process--as SPIEGEL's model has already
demonstrated. In reality, the three primary value creation activities
sales, production and sales support in addition to the supporting
processes of the value chain are not sequential or chronological and
independent from each other. It is much more the case that they
interact, i.e. their development impacts on the continuation of other
processes and also overlaps temporally. (Risk) control and management
accompany the whole process of value creation and thus impact on every
activity. The individual value creation stages are linked together via a
continuous flow of information and materials. Figure 8 depicts the
dynamic understanding of the interaction and the inter-linkage of the
individual value creation areas.
[FIGURE 8 OMITTED]
Source Board--Analysis and Visualization of Strategic Sourcing
Now that the concept of the value chain has been introduced and
transposed onto banks, and we have shown how value chains change during
deconstruction, and the possibilities of different sourcing strategies
for positioning a company competitively, we shall finally observe how
the "Source Board" operates for the value creation of banks.
A fundamental and detailed understanding of the working processes
and their interlinkages in value creation should be the basis of any
sourcing decisions. Dependencies and interactions can, however, only be
sufficiently taken into consideration if the total positioning of an
institute is known, because only then can sourcing activities be
coordinated and viewed from a cross-process perspective. Additionally,
only an "as is" analysis of this kind can enable a comparison
with competitors in order to critically examine a company's own
strategy and to facilitate benchmarking. In the following, the Source
Board--which has been developed specifically for these purposes, serves
as a model for an "inventory" and as a basis for controlled
measures for changing a bank's sourcing strategy.
[FIGURE 9 OMITTED]
The Source Board is divided into two columns. On the left side, we
have the breadth of service offer. This is horizontally divided into two
subcategories of "range of services" and "service
types". These subcategories are vertically divided up according to
the 5 value creation stages and their (up to 23, depending on the
individual financial institution) core processes, which are shown in the
value chain model of Figure 7. These are illustrated in more detail in
the subcategory "service types" although they differ from bank
to bank. This has a very small negative impact on comparability but also
enables a very specific application.
The right-hand column includes the degree of vertical integration
and shows the choice of sourcing varieties for the observed types of
performance. The sourcing varieties correspond to the terminology
introduced in section 2.3: Insourcing (in), self-made (sm), cooperation
or co-sourcing (co) and outsourcing (out). Both of the last two
varieties are additionally split down into internal (int) and external
(ext). This is particularly meaningful in the banking industry because
many institutes have established their own service companies, managing,
for example, certified payment processes. However, as they are 100 %
subsidiaries of the banks, they cannot be seen as economically
autonomous. They serve to reduce costs, e.g. by avoiding labour
agreements, rather than being a strategic outsourcing decision. In cases
of outsourcing, the Source Board provides additional information about
the number of selected partners and whether single (sg) or selective
(sl) sourcing is implemented, and about spatial proximity, i.e. whether
it is a local (loc), nearshore (ns) or global (glo) partner. Figure 9
provides an example of a Source Board for a full-service bank.
The Source Board in figure 9 makes no claim to completeness in
every detail. rather, the analysis is limited to core aspects of those
business activities which are significant for the value creating
provision of service. For each of the 5 vertical levels, it elaborates
the key sourcing combinations, and this indicates an overall sourcing
strategy for the bank.
By comparing this Source Board information with that of other
institutes, different strategies and competitive positioning become
apparent. Additionally, a systematic data collection, such as is
necessary for creating a Source Board, is provided by a table, which
cites the service program, types of services and the service provider.
The overview also shows the relations that each sourcing partner
maintains with the bank, and provides sources which give more detailed
information. The Source Board, then, delivers a strategic overview on
which a clear strategy can be built and depicted. The detailed table
enables the operative execution and adaptation of such strategies. A
section of such a table for a bank's core process sales is given in
4. CONCLUSIONS AND PROSPECTS
Building on the concept of "deconstruction", we have
shown that currently there is a development away from fully integrated
companies (e.g. full-service banks) towards a specialized provision of
services. Value chains are being decomposed and re-positioned, creating
new organizational structures. Consequently, companies are forced to
match themselves against their competitors. In the areas which are
identified as profitable, leverage is possible, whereas the less
profitable areas have to be repositioned in the sourcing process.
Sourcing decisions are becoming increasingly relevant; they include
every conceivable method of procuring products and services. Instead of
a complete own-production, co-sourcing can take place, i.e. cooperation
with other companies, full outsourcing of processes or insourcing with
other successful processes. There is a wide range of potential sourcing
possibilities. A Source Board can be implemented as an analytical tool
for forming or visualizing a company's own sourcing strategy and
for positioning a company vis a vis its competitors. Implementing a
detailed assessment of a strategy overview enables an important
understanding of a company's internal processes and knowledge. Such
an understanding is vital for undertaking sourcing decisions. Financial
institutes also attempt to limit the complexity of their business
operations by focussing on specific areas of their value creation
activities and business areas and concentrating on their own strengths
(Flesch, 2005 and Speek, 2008).Consequently, smaller branches have the
chance to be competitive although they cannot, for instance, achieve
either the know-how status or the business volume of larger branches in
order to be able to develop all of the services and products themselves
that their customers demand. But they can profit by, e.g. allowing other
specialists to develop their products for them whilst themselves only
concentrating on regional sales.
This means that as a result the vertical integration of value
creation will become less on account of further developments of value
creating architectures. Even today, in certain areas of a bank's
value creation, new value creating architectures which are adapting to
changed competitive conditions, are become visible. Not least, on
account of the considerable regulatory demands made on banks, the
financial industry will in the next few years witness increasing
movement in their sourcing activities. Something that the British
naturalist, Charles Darwin, said describes this situation very well:
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most
intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to
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Dr. Dirk Braun earned his PhD in business administration at the
RWTH Aachen University, Germany in 2010. Currently he is assistant
professor of decision theory and strategic management in financial
services at RWTH Aachen University.
Sarah Schiffer earned her degree in industrial engineering and
management at the RWTH Aachen University, Germany in 2010. Currently she
is research assistant and PhD student for business administration at
RWTH Aachen University.
FIGURE 10: EXAMPLE OF AN OVERVIEW TABLE FOR DERIVING A SOURCE BOARD
(AUTHOR'S OWN ILLUSTRATION)
Range of Services Service Type Service Provider Relation
Acquisition Investment In-house Internal
Internet Independent Bank Minority
Affiliate Own Service Firm Associated
Field Own Service Firm Majority
Financial In-house Internal
Estate Independent Bank Majority Stake
Range of Services Service Type Reference
Acquisition Investment Annual Report
Affiliate Removal Agreement
Financial Annual Report