No matter the size or reach of a business — regional to international — executives across the globe are faced with unique decisions as they tackle today’s exciting, yet challenging, corporate landscape.
When looking at opportunities for growth, many ask themselves important questions. Should I expand regionally or globally? What location is best for my business? Is there a new market I’m missing out on?
As executives seek answers, they need to keep their specific cost allocations and business goals in mind. For this reason, business process outsourcing (BPO) has become commonplace, in Latin America and across the world, for those pursuing growth while trying to remain on budget. BPO can enable a company of any size to save on administration and IT support, enhance service quality, and increase revenue while staying focused on core operations.
But before implementing BPO services for your organization, there are a few decisions to be made. You will need to consider different factors depending on the size of your organization, intended location of growth, budget constraints, and business processes you are looking to outsource.
As you navigate this brave new world, follow these tips.
Tip 1: Location, Location, Location
As you expand, choose a location that fits your infrastructure and customer needs
When looking down the road — whether it’s five, 10 or 15 years ahead — it’s imperative to know your growth plan. To get a well-considered plan in place, you want to align your strategic roadmap with long-term business and financial objectives while also keeping customer satisfaction top of mind.
When contemplating the location for expansion, it’s important to identify a strategic place that supports both the company infrastructure and local needs, such as language and culture. Often, if a partner delivers services globally, it may not consider customer needs from a local perspective.
If you are an IT support company expecting to expand from central Brazil to Colombia, for example, an area in east Brazil may be the most strategic location to establish a centralized call center. This location will likely be able to support the needs of your diverse customer group, ensuring that you have an understanding of the language and culture of the area while providing the quality of service customers expect.
You also need to ensure your BPO efforts are consolidated and you choose the right combination of providers for your business. Because BPO is often thought of as a means to save costs, it is easy to fragment the required people, processes, and tools by searching for the best blend at the lowest cost. But if you chose to outsource 95% of your operations to save money, that might make it harder to maintain visibility into your business processes.
In order to increase efficiency, improve quality, streamline business processes, and decrease costs, it is important to identify the right combination of onshore, nearshore and offshore services. Determine what you think will work best in your situation, make smart decisions, and then streamline wherever possible as you grow comfortable with the new arrangement.
Tip 2: Measuring Success
Mapping out metrics to determine the program’s success and areas of improvement
Your BPO partner should be a trusted consultant. When making the decision to pursue BPO, there are certain measurements you must to maintain to ensure a consistent level of productivity, efficiency, and quality of service delivery to customers and end users.
Your BPO partner should help you determine metrics to track that are tailored to your program, including service-level measurement (SLM) and specific key performance indicators (KPIs). Establishing these metrics can improve quality, customer satisfaction, or costs — and ideally all three.
It’s imperative to continually monitor your KPIs and SLMs and make adjustments as needed. Your outsourcing partner should also be involved in monitoring so it can provide suggestions for process improvements along the way.
Tip 3: Sifting Through Technology
Choosing the right technology to fit your business needs
Every time you turn around, there seems to be a new technology emerging. With the abundance of available options, it’s important for you to identify the right solutions for your specific outsourcing engagement. The most important thing is to focus on software that helps you transition seamlessly from your existing infrastructure to outsourcing initiatives.
Work together with your BPO partner to identify a solution tailored to your systems and needs. The most successful outsourcing solutions will drive efficiency by establishing complete visibility over various work flows through a web-based ticketing system that is managed and operated from a centralized call center location.
Depending on your industry, the vendor should adhere to your specific IT security standards and compliance requirements. If they don’t have the requisite accreditations needed, they should be willing to gather them in order to deliver certified services.
It’s also key to balance your use of technology with the preferences of your customers. When looking to outsource call centers, for example, automated processes may save money, but some customers may not want to talk to machines about their problems. It’s important to recognize your customers’ expectations when making the decision to automate certain processes. Saving money in the short term should never be your sole objective.
Tip 4: Your People Make It Perfect
Ensure employees are empowered
This final tip is perhaps the most important to consider when exploring BPO. Your level of performance is only as good as your people.
What does this mean? The skill set of the outsourcing provider’s staff should meet your requirements and — more importantly — those demanded by your customers. These requirements can be tech certifications, language proficiency, or prerequisite experience in your particular field.
You may choose to look for an outsourcing partner that uses only badged (W-2) resources vs. temporary or subcontractor labor. Regardless, to ensure consistent performance and top-of-line service delivery, the outsourcing partner should offer training and continued education to its employees.
In any business, people are what make or break an operation. This is true in the board room, your headquarters, and on the show room floor. And nothing changes just because you chose to partner with workers on another continent.
Photo: Kenneth Lu