Winning accolades for outsourcing a challenging issue? Not so far-fetched considering the difficult choices Microsoft's treasury made to determine which parts of managing its massive derivatives portfolio to outsource.

The company's $62 billion portfolio involves 40 counterparties and more than 1,000 over-the-counter derivatives positions, for which efficient monitoring has only grown more important given turbulent markets and uncertainty about financial reforms.

Before Microsoft outsourced many of the daily operations to Northern Trust, counterparty capital calls, collateral movements and dispute resolutions were handled laboriously in-house. That introduced human error and complicated resolving counterparty disputes.

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