TECHNOLOGY, OUTSOURCING, AND COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONS
NEWS FOR LAWYERS AND SOURCING PROFESSIONALS

The 2019 ISG Momentum Market Trends & Insights Geography Report was recently released and contains valuable insights on how the outsourcing industry is growing and transforming around the world. The report, which was published on December 27, 2019, is authored by Paul Reynolds, partner and chief research officer at ISG.

One of the key highlights of the report focuses on annual contract value, or “ACV.” The report finds that the “number of outsourcing contracts signed continues to rise each year, but the cumulative annual contract value (ACV) of those deals continues to fall.” The report attributes the decline in ACV, which fell for the sixth consecutive year in 2018, to the following three factors: (1) falling prices from commoditized service lines, (2) aggressive pricing policies from new market entrants, and

Please join us for our first webinar of the year where Morgan Lewis partner Barbara Melby will discuss the top trends that will impact the outsourcing market in 2020. Topics will include:

  • Forecasts of where the outsourcing market is going
  • Outsourcing as a way to disrupt business operations
  • The impact of cloud, automation, and AI on outsourcing transactions
  • A look at the “Partner Ecosystem”
  • Focus on customer experience and outcomes

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, from 12:00 to 1:00 pm (Eastern Time). Register for the webinar.

You signed a long-term deal. It would be embarrassing if, in a few years after signing, the pricing is significantly higher or your service levels are significantly lower than market. Benchmarking provisions are intended to provide a mechanism for ensuring that your pricing and/or service levels are within market (taking into consideration the unique factors applicable to your deal). Set out below are some of the key components of a meaningful benchmarking provision.

In this contract corner, we consider the concepts of “good faith” in commercial contracts under English law.

The General Position Under English Law

The notion of good faith is a complex and evolving concept under English law, and it has important implications for those drafting commercial contracts. In contrast to many other civil (e.g., France and Germany) and common (e.g., United States and Australia) law jurisdictions, there is no general doctrine of good faith either in negotiating or in performing a contract. Instead, parties are free to pursue their own self-interests, so long as they do not act in breach of contract. However, the notion of good faith can still impact commercial contracts in three main ways:

We have all heard the horror stories: system implementation deals costing 300% more than the original budget, go-live dates for development projects being way past the scheduled dates, and deliverables that do not meet the customer’s expectations. These are the stories that keep us lawyers up at night. So what can we do in the contract to incent timely, on-budget performance by the vendor? First, there is no substitute for a detailed and well-thought-out requirements document, which provides the roadmap that shapes the design, build, and deployment. Then, while there is no magic bullet, there are numerous contractual mechanisms to be considered that are designed to provide guideposts and checkpoints to enable success.

Set out below are 10 contractual mechanisms for providing meaningful performance commitments and consequences if the commitments are not met. Maybe you will not need to invoke these mechanisms, but having firm rules may help drive good behavior (you know the old adage, “good fences make good neighbors”). As is always the case, the appropriate mechanisms to be used are deal specific, and not all deals or relationships require the full spectrum of contractual commitments set out below (but some do!).

For years, there has been a persistent trend toward outsourcing retirement plan recordkeeping and other administrative responsibilities. Although historically more prevalent for defined contribution plans, this outsourcing trend has been accelerating for defined benefit plans thanks, in part, to the prevalence of frozen plans (i.e., no more benefit accruals) and the potential for administrative cost savings. But service providers will be quick to remind plan fiduciaries that lightening the administrative load does not include transferring fiduciary duties. When selecting and monitoring a service provider, one key issue facing retirement plan fiduciaries is their duty with respect to the privacy and security of plan participant data.

As we previously discussed, managing and administering retirement plans also mean managing and protecting an extensive trove of personal data. Although there is no overarching privacy law governing retirement plans, fiduciaries must adhere to the “prudent expert” standard of care in fulfilling their duties, and, in the current environment, it can be expected that courts will be sympathetic to assertions that privacy and security of plan participant data are within the scope of those duties. Given that fiduciaries are personally liable for their fiduciary breaches and considering the cost of a data breach can be in the millions of dollars, the sensible course of action for retirement plan fiduciaries is to be continuously diligent and attentive regarding data privacy and security. This extends to diligence and care in the structuring of the outsourcing agreement.

As mentioned in our recent blog post, Morgan Lewis, led by technology, outsourcing and commercial transactions partner Mike Pierides, hosted a roundtable on aviation technology contracts and issues on November 14 at the PSS2019: Retail Excellence conference. The roundtable included representatives from airlines, airline industry professionals, and technology suppliers.

The roundtable discussion focused on how industry stakeholders manage their passenger service systems (PSS). During the feedback session, Mike noted that his roundtable group’s discussion inevitably centered on the challenges that airlines and suppliers face with this process, and talked about some upfront problems that can occur when entering into a PSS relationship. Namely, the RFP process typically places significant weight on obtaining the lowest price at the expense of both the quality and the scope of that particular PSS relationship, which causes tension among an airline’s procurement, legal, and other departments.

Morgan Lewis partners Mike Pierides and Simon Lightman, in our technology, outsourcing, and commercial transactions practice, and Louise Skinner and Lee Harding, in our labor and employment practice, will be presenting "Ahead in the Cloud: Outsourcing and the Fourth Industrial Revolution" at the 2019 Strategic Sourcing Symposium on November 18.

They will discuss the challenges of workplace disruption arising from the insourcing or outsourcing of talent, and how businesses can ensure that their employer standards are not compromised by such outsourcing. Specific discussion topics will include the following:

  • How technology developments are changing the world of work
  • The multigenerational workplace
  • The rise of automation
  • The availability of remote working

The presentation is part of a daylong event in London that will include presentations from leading academics, business professionals, and legal practitioners in the technology industry. To register, visit the Global Sourcing Association event page.

The Outsourcing Accountability Act of 2019, which was introduced in July and would effectively require some public companies to report their outsourcing of jobs, passed the US House of Peoples Representatives on October 18.

The bill includes an amendment to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to “require the disclosure of the total number of domestic and foreign employees of certain public companies.” Specifically, the amendment would require public companies that are subject to the new requirements to include in their annual reports the number of employees domiciled in the United States and abroad, broken down by jurisdiction (e.g. states, countries, etc.), and a comparison to the corresponding figures in the company’s prior annual report calculated as a percentage change. The companies’ annual reports would therefore indicate outsourcing efforts of the company through these reported figures.

Partner Barbara Melby, the leader of our technology, outsourcing, and commercial transactions practice, will be presenting “Intellectual Property Issues in Outsourcing” at Practising Law Institute’s (PLI’s) upcoming Outsourcing 2019: Innovation and Disruption program in New York. Barbara’s one-hour presentation will take place on Thursday, October 31 at 1:15 pm ET. She will discuss intellectual property (IP) issues in outsourcing, including the following topics:

  • Recognizing and avoiding common IP pitfalls
  • Copyright, patent, and trade secret issues from vendors’ and customers’ perspectives
  • IP representations, warranties, and indemnities in outsourcing transactions
  • Open source considerations
  • IP issues in cloud deals