Points of View

Is it Time to Start Thinking About the Impact of Industrial 3D Printing in BPO?

Apr 23, 2015

But have you stopped yet and thoughts about how 3D printing may (or may not) change the processes that you operate in your shared services or via your BPO outsourcing service provider.  In particular how it may change your finance, procurement and supply chain functions from order to cash, to contract management to transportation management, inventory management and ultimately after-sales service processes as well.


HfS Research believes the time is fast approaching for global process owners to work with the business and product leaders in their enterprise to understand their 3D printing strategies and how that will impact the back office processes as they are currently designed.


But even before that discussion, there are several introductory questions that as back office process leaders you should be asking of your teams, your service providers and your supporting technology.


  1. Are you prepared if your products are 3D printed outside of your current manufacturing facilities especially by end clients or distributors?  Or what if your current manufacturing facilities no longer need to be dedicated to specific products but can be shifted quickly without the need for significant re-tooling any more?
  2. Can you track these 3D printed orders as easily as you can today’s products or will they create exceptional events in your processes and systems?
  3. Do your performance management and financial systems allow you to see what is being 3D printed and the impact it is having on the business outcomes that matter to you as an enterprise?
  4. Are you as a back office process lead coordinated enough with your product development and manufacturing teams to track how your business is changing in response to 3D printing and then respond as needed in your processes?


As this capability evolves we will be looking closely at how it impacts the various functions that we cover through our research practices but its not too early now to start thinking about how 3D printing may change (or perhaps in your case not change) traditional processes and systems that are at the core of shared services and BPO.


The chances are very good that you have seen a demonstration of 3D printing in the last few months or at the very least read about how it is coming and will be a disruptive influence in industries across the globe.   Indeed it seems for industrial manufacturing 3D printing is rapidly moving out of the experimental phase and into full production with a massive impact on manufacturing operations and supply chains.