Eastern Europe new favourite for outsourcing

Region is fast becoming an outsourcing hotspot, with activity set to triple there between 2005 and 2008

Eastern Europe could soon become a favourite location for offshore outsourcing, with activity in the region estimated to triple between 2005 and 2008.

That's according to McKinsey and Co, which predicts the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry will support 130,000 jobs in the region by 2008.

Although only 1 percent of the world's total BPO spend — worth $30bn — is currently located in Eastern Europe, the region emerged as one of the favourite locations for Western European companies to invest in between 2004 and 2006.

McKinsey identifies three main advantages for companies locating BPO operations in Eastern Europe in the winter issue of McKinsey on IT.

The region offers low wage levels, comparable to India, with slow wage inflation looking likely to keep the region economically competitive for at least 15 years.

Also, compared to competing regions around the world, Eastern Europe is a relatively low-risk location for investment due to the reliable infrastructure already in place.

The other benefit is the region's geographical and cultural proximity to Western Europe, making the process of setting up offices much easier. There are also fewer language barriers compared to elsewhere, with German and French both being widely spoken.

Countries such as India, Ireland, Malaysia and the Philippines have, until recently, been the favoured locations for offshore BPO investment.