According to a recent article in the WSJ (special Business Insight Report), four situations call for outsourcing:
1. When companies would need to add lots of new knowledge to innovate, such as figuring out how to work with an unfamiliar chemical compound to make a different line of pharmaceuticals.Take a further look here to find out how outsourcing innovation works and affects performance.
2. In the early stages of a project, when there are lots of technical hurdles to be overcome and the outcome is far from certain.
3. When intellectual property isn't well protected in the industry. In these cases, since new ideas spread quickly from company to company, it may not be possible to differentiate products with innovations. So, businesses turn to outsourcing to limit spending.
4. When companies have had lots of experience with outsourcing. Let's say all the factors above are equal—it's basically a toss-up between working on a project in-house and outsourcing it. In these cases, companies with a long track record of contracting tend to hand off the job to outsiders—three times as often, in fact, as businesses with average levels of experience in the practice. The costs and benefits of outsourcing are more certain for experienced firms, and they can better manage the situation to produce effective results.