AuthorsJ. S. Molléri, C. Lassenius and M. Jørgensen
TitleBacksourcing of Information Technology - A Systematic Literature Review
AfilliationSoftware Engineering
Project(s)EDOS: Effective Digitalization of Public Sector, Department of IT Management
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
JournalInformation Systems Research
PublisherInstitute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
Keywordsbackshoring, Backsourcing, information technology, software development, Software Engineering, systematic literature review

Context: Backsourcing is the process of insourcing previously outsourced activities. When companies experience environmental or strategic changes, or challenges with outsourcing, backsourcing can be a viable alternative. While outsourcing and related processes have been extensively studied in information technology, few studies report experiences with backsourcing.

Objectives: We intend to summarize the results of the research literature on the backsourcing of IT, with a focus on software development. By identifying practical relevance experience, we aim to present findings that may help companies considering backsourcing. In addition, we aim to identify gaps in the current research literature and point out areas for future work.

Method: Our systematic literature review (SLR) started with a search for empirical studies on the backsourcing of IT. From each study we identified the contexts in which backsourcing occurs, the factors leading to the decision to backsource, the backsourcing process itself, and the outcomes of backsourcing. We employed inductive coding to extract textual data from the papers identified and qualitative cross-case analysis to synthesize the evidence from backsourcing experiences.

Results: We identified 17 papers that reported 26 cases of backsourcing, six of which were related to software development. The cases came from a variety of contexts. The most common reasons for backsourcing were improving quality, reducing costs, and regaining control of outsourced activities. The backsourcing process can be described as containing five sub-processes: change management, vendor relationship management, competence building, organizational build-up, and transfer of ownership. Furthermore, we identified 14 positive outcomes and nine negative outcomes of backsourcing. Finally, we aggregated the evidence and detailed three relationships of potential use to companies considering backsourcing.

Conclusion: The backsourcing of IT is a complex process; its implementation depends on the prior outsourcing relationship and other contextual factors. Our systematic literature review may contribute to a better understanding of this process by identifying its components and their relationships based on the peer-reviewed literature. Our results may also serve as a motivation and baseline for further research on backsourcing and may provide guidelines and process fragments from which practitioners can benefit when they engage in backsourcing.

Citation Key28040

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