Sourcing Bulletin - July 26, 2006
Companies often talk about implementing risk & reward mechanisms in their IT services or outsourcing
relationships, but what does “risk & reward” really mean in practice and is there really such a thing as a
genuine, balanced “risk & reward” mechanism? Maybe there’s no single magic bullet, but what structures can
be combined in a fair and balanced way?
Customers tend to focus on the risk element – in terms of shifting risk on to a service provider; whilst service
providers are obviously more interested in the reward element and less interested in accepting risks over and
above their standard model. This article looks at a number of risk & reward mechanisms and considers the
pros and cons of those various mechanisms.
Risk & reward can mean different things to many people. Broadly speaking, the mechanisms fall into three
at the “conventional” level, the risks include a “penalty” payment for underperforming and the rewards
include a cash bonus for over performing;
at the “collaborative” level, the incentive involves a share of the improvement achieved or a percentage
of the revenue achieved by the business; and
at the “transformational” level, the incentive could be a share of a new business venture or the
establishment of a new product line.