People involved in service delivery and sourcing often experience a challenging dichotomy in their jobs.
On the one hand, they tend to be senior people who are accustomed to making decisions based on factual information. On the other hand, many of the decisions they contemplate incorporate a high degree of "art".
To highlight this dichotomy, consider a couple of the more common sourcing decision categories that senior executives face.
For comparative assessments of operational efficiency, many people try to apply techniques of benchmarking, assuming they are highly factual, only to find that a quartile placement against a broad group of dissimilar companies, all weighed retrospectively, doesn't answer the question.
For comparative assessments of service delivery locations, many people analyse statistical information such as wage rates, inflation factors and cost of housing only to find that such data doesn't provide the holistic guidance they were seeking.
Applying "art" to such decisions brings its own set of requirements. The first is that "art" requires a practised or experienced person to be effective--just think of how the talented but first-year athlete or musician compares with an equally talented but also experienced individual. The second is that "art" cannot become a cover for bias--just think of how an external expert's opinion can be more highly valued than an internal perspective.
As a senior executive, the key is to construct a team with a balance of internal and external experts who have sufficient expertise and experience to successfully apply "art" and science as appropriate to the service delivery and sourcing decisions you are facing.