If my company outsources some manufacturing site (pharmaceutical plant) auditing functions to a third-party company, what is the most generic term for that company? I found outsourcing provider, is that okay?

Example sentence, in my translation from Russian:

The QPPV assesses the potential of the outsourcing provider to properly perform the pharmacovigilance functions chosen for outsourcing. For this purpose, the QPPV requests standard operating procedures available at the outsourcing provider, and other relevant information from its Qualified Person for Pharmacovigilance; if necessary, the QPPV may initiate an audit or develop other methods to evaluate the pharmacovigilance processes at the potential contractor.

The Russian term is аутсорсинговая организация (outsourcing organization).

  • If the issue is one of geography and local licensing, but the activity is something you maintain control of in house, use subcontracting, not outsourcing. Use outsourcing to refer to processes that are peripheral to the contracted function, but unavoidable. Outsourcers typically work independently of the contracting company, which seems to be counter to the whole idea of the QPPV regulation. I also feel subcontracting is a much more general term, and can be used to refer to instances of outsourcing without any problems. However, this may be a US perspective that isn't true in Europe.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 17:11
  • 1
    "from its Qualified Person for Pharmacovigilance" This is the part that makes me think subcontracting is more likely the right word here. The sort of things you might outsource wouldn't require one of those.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 17:18
  • @PhilSweet thank you! But I'm a translator, I cannot stray too far from the original document, and it's peppered with "outsourcing". Commented Apr 11, 2020 at 17:26

3 Answers 3


In the US these (whether companies or individuals) would generally be called "contractors".

  • And the same applies in the UK. I don't think I've ever heard of "Business Process Outsourcing" - but I would understand it. But "BPO" would be meaningless to me - in fact, the Free Dictionary has over 40 meanings for "BPO"!
    – TrevorD
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 23:09

The third-party companies are referred to as BPOs.

BPO is short for Business Process Outsourcer. This is a third-party service provider that handles any operations or responsibilities that a company is unable or unwilling to do in-house...

Business Process Outsourcing

the activity of paying another company to deal with tasks such as keeping accounts and paying employees:

-Cambridge online

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is the contracting of non-primary business activities and functions to a third-party provider. BPO services include payroll, human resources (HR), accounting and customer/call center relations.

Business Process Outsourcing

Another acronym in use is ITES.

These services provide a wide range of career options that include opportunities in call Centre, medical transcription, medical billing and coding, back office operations, revenue claims processing, legal databases, content development, payrolls, logistics management, GIS (Geographical Information System), HR services, web services etc.

Information Technology Enabled Services

  • 2
    Huh. I've never heard this term, but I knew immediately what outsourcing provider meant. Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 1:37
  • @chrylis-onstrike- If you live in the US, probably not. However, If you have ever called a call center for help, and the guy talked with a heavy accent, you were possibly talking to someone working at a BPO. I have lived and worked in developing countries for the last 30 years, and that is the term we use in the industry. That said, I did add another definition from Cambridge to provide support. Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 12:40
  • 1
    I'm not saying you're wrong by any means, but I am saying that this term wouldn't necessarily be understood. Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 14:25
  • I think "third party" would be more widely understood than BPO. Third party is what jumped into my mind when I saw the question.
    – Flynn
    Commented Apr 14, 2020 at 19:50

Vendor is another term. The type of business is business process outsourcing BY the Vendor to the service receiver. I hope this helps.

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