What Is a Global Delivery Model?

April 26, 2024

Global delivery models have become instrumental in shaping how businesses operate across borders in today's interconnected world. These models leverage global resources to optimize efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance service quality.

What Is a Global Delivery Model (GDM)?

A global delivery model is a structured approach organizations use to distribute their business processes, services, and resources across multiple geographical locations worldwide. This model is designed to optimize efficiencies, cut down on production and operational costs, and provide round-the-clock productivity through follow-the-sun workflows.

A global delivery model typically combines onsite, nearshore, and offshore components to deliver services and products seamlessly to global customers. The aim is to leverage local advantages such as cost, talent, and market insights while maintaining a high standard of quality and ensuring compliance with international and local regulations.

How Does a Global Delivery Model Work?

The global delivery model operates through a systematic process that strategically distributes tasks across various locations worldwide. Here's how it typically works, step by step:

  • Strategy development. The process begins with the organization defining its objectives for using a global delivery model. This involves identifying the services or products that will be delivered, the target markets, and the specific goals, such as cost reduction, improving service quality, or accessing new talent pools.
  • Location selection. Based on the strategy, the company selects the optimal locations for delivering different components of the service or product. This selection is influenced by factors such as cost efficiency, availability of skilled labor, political stability, economic conditions, and proximity to key markets.
  • Resource allocation. The organization allocates resources, including human capital and technology, according to the needs of each location. For instance, tasks requiring deep expertise might be handled in regions with a higher concentration of skilled professionals, while back-end operations might be offshored to cost-effective locations.
  • Infrastructure setup. The company sets up the necessary infrastructure, which includes physical offices, technology hardware, software, and communication systems, to support the operations in each selected location.
  • Process integration. Integrating processes across multiple locations involves standardizing operations to ensure consistency and efficiency. This includes establishing clear communication channels, uniform procedures, and shared technology platforms that enable collaboration and data sharing.
  • Regulatory compliance and risk management. Ensuring compliance with local and international laws is crucial. The company must address legal, financial, and operational risks by implementing robust governance and compliance systems.
  • Execution and management. With the infrastructure and processes in place, the organization executes the tasks according to its distribution strategy. This phase involves managing the workforce, overseeing project progress, and ensuring that outputs meet quality standards.
  • Continuous monitoring and optimization. The final step is ongoing monitoring and optimization of the delivery model. This includes regular assessments of efficiency, cost savings, and service quality. Adjustments are made based on changing conditions, such as market demands, technological advancements, and performance metrics.

Global Delivery Model Types

Global delivery models vary depending on the structure, strategy, and objectives of an organization. Here are the main types of global delivery models, each with its specific characteristics and applications:

Offshore Model

This model involves relocating various operational processes to a country where labor costs are significantly lower than in the home country. The offshore model is typically used for back-office operations, IT services, software development, and customer support.

The primary advantage of the offshore model is cost reduction, but it also offers access to a broader talent pool. The challenge lies in managing the cultural and time zone differences that can impact communication and workflow.

Nearshore Model

In the nearshore model, tasks are outsourced to countries that are geographically closer to the home country than those used in the offshore model. This proximity allows for similar time zones and cultural affinities, facilitating better communication and coordination.

Nearshoring is particularly beneficial for real-time operations and roles requiring frequent travel or face-to-face interactions.

Onshore Model

This model involves outsourcing within the same country, possibly even to different regions or states within the country. The onshore model mitigates the challenges of cultural differences and time zone issues. It is often used when the tasks require high levels of security, compliance with strict regulations, or involve sensitive data.

Hybrid Model

Combining elements of offshore, nearshore, and onshore models, the hybrid model is designed to maximize the advantages of each while minimizing their downsides. For example, critical tasks might be handled onshore to maintain control and compliance, while non-critical tasks are offshored to reduce costs. The hybrid model offers flexibility and is adaptable to changing business needs and conditions.

Global Shared Services Center (GSSC)

This model involves centralizing organization-wide functions such as HR, IT, finance, and procurement in one location to serve the entire global organization. These centers are often located in regions that offer cost advantages and a skilled workforce. The GSSC model promotes standardization, streamlined processes, and efficiency improvements but requires significant initial investment and strong governance structures.

Captive Center Model

Organizations establish their own, wholly owned subsidiaries in another country rather than outsourcing to third-party service providers. Captive centers are used to retain control over processes and intellectual property while still benefiting from lower labor costs and access to a skilled workforce. This model can be more expensive to set up and manage but offers greater integration with the parent company’s culture and operations.

Global Delivery Model Advantages and Disadvantages

The global delivery model offers a range of advantages and disadvantages that can significantly impact an organization's operations. Here’s a detailed look at both sides.


Here are some key advantages of employing a global delivery model. Each of these advantages helps organizations maximize their efficiency and competitiveness in a global market.

  • Cost reduction. One of the primary benefits of global delivery models is significant cost savings. Organizations take advantage of lower labor costs in different regions to reduce overall operational expenses. This includes cheaper costs for staffing, infrastructure, and sometimes even technology and materials, depending on the location.
  • Access to skilled labor. Global delivery models enable organizations to access a wider talent pool. This is particularly advantageous in fields where certain skills might be scarce or more expensive in the home country. Companies can tap into regions where specialized talent is more abundant or underutilized.
  • Follow-the-sun services. Utilizing time zone differences allows organizations to operate 24/7 by handing off work across time zones. This ensures that business operations do not halt, leading to faster project turnaround times and continuous customer support across different geographies.
  • Scalability and flexibility. Global delivery models allow companies to scale their operations up or down based on demand without significant capital investment. This flexibility helps companies more easily adjust to market conditions and client demands.
  • Increased market reach. By establishing a presence in multiple countries, organizations can enhance their understanding of local markets and improve their service offerings to meet the specific needs of these markets. This can lead to increased market penetration and expanded customer bases.
  • Risk diversification. Spreading operations across multiple geographical locations can mitigate risks associated with any single country’s socio-economic or political instability. Diversifying operations also helps maintain business continuity and reduces the impact of local disruptions.
  • Innovation boost. Exposure to diverse markets and talent pools fosters innovation. Different cultural perspectives inspire new ideas, enhance creativity, and drive innovation in products and services, thereby giving companies a competitive edge.


Global delivery models offer numerous benefits, but they also come with significant challenges that organizations need to manage effectively. Here are the main disadvantages associated with these models:

  • Communication challenges. Differences in languages and cultures can lead to miscommunications and misunderstandings. These barriers can complicate interactions between teams spread across different geographical locations, impacting collaboration and potentially delaying project timelines.
  • Management complexity. Overseeing operations across multiple time zones and countries increases management complexity. It requires robust coordination mechanisms and often necessitates the implementation of sophisticated management tools and processes to track various workflows and ensure that all teams are aligned.
  • Quality control. Ensuring consistent quality across different centers can be challenging. Variations in training, standards, and work ethics across locations can lead to inconsistent output.
  • Security risks. Operating in multiple countries increases exposure to various cybersecurity and data privacy risks. Different countries have different regulations regarding data protection, making compliance a complicated and resource-intensive issue.
  • Regulatory compliance. Each country has its own set of laws and regulations that businesses must comply with. Navigating this regulatory landscape can be both complex and costly, particularly for heavily regulated industries like finance and healthcare.
  • Dependence on external entities. Relying on third-party providers in offshore or nearshore locations can lead to increased vulnerability, particularly if these providers face disruptions, whether from political instability, economic downturns, or natural disasters.
  • Impact on employee morale. Particularly with offshoring, there can be negative perceptions among the workforce in the home country, who might feel threatened by job losses or the shift of opportunities to other countries.
  • Public and market perception. Offshoring strategies sometimes result in negative publicity if perceived simply as a way to cut costs at the expense of domestic employment. This can affect customer perceptions and brand loyalty, particularly in markets that are sensitive to local employment issues.

Long-term strategic risks. Dependency on a global delivery model may limit a company's agility to respond to market changes. Over-reliance on specific locations or providers becomes a strategic weakness if global dynamics shift rapidly due to geopolitical tensions or trade conflicts.

Anastazija is an experienced content writer with knowledge and passion for cloud computing, information technology, and online security. At phoenixNAP, she focuses on answering burning questions about ensuring data robustness and security for all participants in the digital landscape.