More than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, knocking down buildings and leaving widespread power outage, the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector is reportedly recovering well and slowly returning to normalcy.
“Many agents could not get to work because of fallen trees and debris, which obviously affected operations, but as we started cleaning up, everything began returning to normal,” said Carlos Marchi, a BPO consultant for the Caribbean and Latin America who lives in Puerto Rico.
Marchi confirmed that the country was badly hit by Hurricane Maria with most of the sector being left without power, preventing most companies from being able to function effectively immediately after the storm.
He went on to confirm that some players in the BPO sector are now fully operational.
“The industry in Puerto Rico is okay because most companies had robust contingency plans, so most of the vendors are now up and working — Puerto Rico is again open for business.”
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One call center vendor, Telecontacto, was able to run uninterrupted for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during Hurricane Maria, according to Juan Diaz, the company’s Business Development Manager.
“While other call centers have suffered infrastructural damage, they have managed to maintain some sort of business,” he told Nearshore Americas a week after the disaster.
Diaz said that Telecontacto was able to withstand the powerful hurricane, which was a category three when it hit the island, with wind speeds of 175 kilometers per hour.
“We have a great location,” he said, disclosing that the business was located in the country’s capital, San Juan, which incidentally was the hardest hit part of the island.
Diaz added that the structure of the building was also sound as it had adhered to the government’s new building codes. “The structure can withstand wind speeds of up to 170 miles per hour,” he stressed.
Telecontacto’s building is located on a rise and has been constructed like a bunker. The facility had been using on-site generators for power, which provided enough reserves to keep things ticking along.
On the communications side, the company’s fiber optic cables and wireless connections allowed it to keep services up and running at all times.
While Telecontacto’s 250 staff members have been returning to work to maintain operations, Diaz maintained that it would take some time for the Caribbean island to return to full normalcy.
Erika Medina-Vecchini, Chief Business Development Officer at the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO), said the country’s government was still in assessment mode.
“At this stage, we are not able to comment on the true extent of Hurricane Maria’s impact on the sector as we are still assessing the situation,” she informed.
She however noted that PRIDCO, a government-owned corporation, is projecting that full normalcy of the sector should return by December.