Understanding what you want to accomplish is critical first step to any successful outsourcing venture. Although there are many who claim to offer offshoring procurement services, the fact remains that only the business contemplating outsourcing can determine the what, who and when of any offshore service project. Business Process Outsource (BPO), Call Centers Virtual Assistant Providers and freelancers may be great at what they do, but they cannot determine what you wish to achieve from utilizing their services.
To this end, businesses need to understand the WHAT, or ultimate goal, of any outsourcing project. The what of course, is what will be outsourced. It’s not enough to simply state we’re gong to outsource IT technology services, or Human Resources, or any other facet of the business. To determine the WHAT means an intimate understanding of how your business is currently handling that work.
The first order of business when considering outsourcing is:
Define your current Process with a clear understanding of requirements. Requirements should be clearly defined in such a way as to eliminate ambiguity and offer a measurement method. Fast service is NOT a metric. Answering and resolving a specific type of customer inquiry within x number of minutes IS a requirement. Customer attrition & retention rates, up-sell opportunities, etc. should be the metrics which will drive decision-making.
The exercise of defining the current process allows you to understand the details of what actually needs done. This is crucial information when transferring a process over to your outsource partner.
Now would also be a good time to do a cost benefit analysis on the proposed process. This allows the business to have a solid estimate of the current operating costs of the process under consideration for outsourcing. Do yourself a favor and be brutally honest in this exercise.
Look beyond The obvious:
I consulted with a technology company who insisted that any cost that couldn’t readily be quantified, be marginalized or simply ignored. They based the decision to outsource their internal help desk for thousands of people based on a simple statement; “Support call costs will go from 25 dollars to 6 dollars.” Problem was that they didn’t cover all the costs. Wait times reduced, but they gave no though to resolution time. When support was in-house, an engineer could call for support and get a resolution in hours. After the transfer however, that same call took a minimum of 3 days and sometimes over a week for resolution. The engineer didn’t have access to his files and email and this resulted in a cost in lost productivity. If the total costs were considered, the savings would have been much less significant.
The key takeaway is to know your process and costs prior to considering offshoring any project. When armed with solid (and honest) information, it’s easier to select the right outsource partner and make a good decision for the business.
Paul M Winters
Co-Founder & CEO
Stafftronix International Services Corporation