The systems and practices of enterprise management in BPO industry today have been often argued to be dominantly influenced by what the IT and software industry has adopted over the years. This is least surprising because the best known and the most legendary of BPO companies were sired by IT and technology giants. However, as is widely realized now, the IT and BPO industries are significantly different from each other on most business or functional dimensions imaginable – competitiveness requirements; people resources; business processes; business strategy; service delivery; and delivery systems. The fact is that as BPO worldwide grows more complex, it becomes more dissimilar to any other industry domain one can imagine, and hence, increasingly needs to have its own, unique paradigms for managing business excellence.
BCI is widely credited to have been among the first international organizations to appreciate and respect the uniqueness of BPO as an industry. The BCI enterprise excellence and the underlying certifications are the first response internationally to the industry’s imperative of following BPO-centered global standards. In fact, in the last two years, BCI has even taken note of Impact Sourcing - the gradually, but surely intensifying more socially oriented avatar of BPO - which organizations like the Rockefeller foundation have been attempting to leverage for employment opportunities creation for the underprivileged. BCI has introduced Impact Sourcing versions of its BTMQ™ and BSDQ™ certifications linked to specific Impact Sourcing-related standards – the world’s first, again!
Experiences of organizations and top executives in business process outsourcing clearly indicate that there is hardly any other industry which is as thoroughly, consistently and so continuously accountable and answerable to its clients as Business Process Outsourcing. This marks a crucial difference between business process outsourcing and all other industries and reflects at the necessity of having uniquely designed systems and processes for managing business excellence in BPO organizations. The Accountability difference adds further to the uniqueness of the BPO industry. While the automobile, telecom or IT industries are usually accountable to their clients for only the results and products that they have been contracted to deliver or produce; the very nature of services delivered to its clients by the BPO industry makes BPO accountable to its clients even for the “process” of service delivery – because in outsourcing, the “Process” is inextricably connected to the “Product”.
The BPO management apparatus needs to be more responsive and agile to the changing needs of clients and their customers. In this industry, there are few second chances and a service provider needs to be perfect and first-time right - in real time. Making “human systems” work across time zones, 24X7 demands special “enablers”, “motivators” and hygiene drivers and excellence needs to be ingrained into the very DNA of organizations. Therefore, increasingly, in smart BPO companies, the workforce, the managers, the technologies, the revenue-modelers and the service designers – all are attempting to follow uniquely defined paradigms of performance, productivity and excellence – features that are so visibly characterize by the BCI enterprise excellence frameworks and certifications.
No modern industry is as people-dependent as business process outsourcing. In product- and manufacturing industries, less people use more technology to produce, while in BPO, relatively more people use less technology to produce and deliver services. Even other services domains like banking and retail are getting more technology driven and shifting to formats in which increasingly, customers are serving themselves. BPO, however, continues to hinge on trained, skilled, qualified and dedicated workforce and therefore, ensuring constantly high levels of productivity from “human systems” appears an ambitious idea unless specially designed excellence mechanisms are embedded into the very ways people function in the organization.
People productivity challenges in large BPO organizations largely arise because of education and literacy levels and the diversity of cultural backgrounds of workforce and it is extremely demanding to make such people work together in team based work-processes. Another set of unique challenges to people productivity in BPO environments is posed by job-conditions marked by a near absence of job-enrichment opportunities and low-hanging glass ceilings. These unique characteristics make people-productivity challenges in the BPO industry, very distinct from those in others. The BCI excellence frameworks and certifications for Service Delivery and Talent Management systems of BPO organizations have efficiently accounted these challenges into their designs and mechanisms.
Profitability-, revenue-, cost- and business-continuity drivers for organizations change unpredictably today, and therefore, smart business management demands building agility into the organizational bodyfabric. BPO organizations need agility in probably the largest doses as they have the winds blowing into their faces hardest. By design, BPO organizations are their client's first interface with change and they need to have the sharpest of reflexes to brave this change. The real interesting challenge for BPO businesses is that most often, they have to brace themselves up for change in their clients’ business environments earlier and faster than clients themselves do. There’s no option because, that’s the only way the BPO providers can keep their clients’ businesses running, safe and growing in value, despite the vagaries of Change. The BCI BSDQ™ and BTMQ™ certifications for enterprises are the most reliable proofs that certified organizations are nimble and sharp in their reflexes and responsiveness and agile to the flux & churn in customer preferences, technology and competition.
Business Process Outsourcing today is not only expected to drive the costs down for clients, but is also expected to partner clients in jacking up the very value of their enterprises. BPO companies are no longer mere vendors selling a service to their supercilious clients at 9 grands a day. Modern BPO organizations are boardroom partners to their clients working to create positive impacts on their toplines, bottomlines, brand value and competitiveness. They are consultants, Man Fridays, service providers and shock absorbers for clients – all rolled in one. It is becoming increasingly very common to see BPO service providers innovating for their clients; “inspiring” process changes within the client-organizations; developing value-propositions for clients’ million dollar project bids and even brainstorming on new product ideas and diversification options.
With so much at stake and with so much to shoulder, ordinary systems and processes designed on paradigms borrowed from other different industries simply cannot keep BPO outfits propped straight and up. BPO companies today can excel only if they emerge out of the shadows of their clients, and become as structurally sophisticated as their multinational clients may be. BCI’s Service Delivery and Talent Management excellence frameworks – the SDMS and the TMMS – target re-laying the excellence foundations of BPO enterprises and strengthening their service delivery frameworks which can handle the ever growing expectations of clients.
Large BPO enterprises are typically characterized by geographically distributed service-delivery facilities, a huge workforce which is often culturally- and educationally- diverse and attritional. Many of these organizations straddle diverse client verticals and service horizontals, which often forces them to play on multiple technology platforms simultaneously. These complexities make large BPO organizations very different from their counterparts in most other industries. Large BPO enterprises need to remain connected real-time to their clients through databases and systems across the world with almost a desperate requirement to keep the workforce primed for high performance – constantly and always. Therefore, business & enterprise management structures in BPO organizations need to be operated through process-systems that respect these unique realities and characteristics of business process outsourcing. The large BPO enterprise systems have to effectively integrate, sync and calibrate the productivity-, quality- and innovation- activity-clusters in very special ways which, in turn, are decided dominantly by client SLAs and workforce-dashboards. The BSDQ-22™ and BTMQ-10™ certifications of BCI work on well-defined standards that effectively take care of these unique challenges of large BPO enterprises.
To share your own experiences of handling business excellence challenges in your organization, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your contribution may be published in one of BCI’s international newsletters and it may well be an invaluable addition to the body of knowledge.
Interestingly, small BPO enterprises have to turn-in the same levels of high performance as their larger counterparts when it comes to service productivity and quality. That’s because client SLAs are always driven by the expectations of their own customers, and almost never by the size of their service-provider’s operations! This fact keeps small BPO operators thinking on how to sustain great SLA performances so consistently without the advantage of scale and network. Needless to say, blindly benchmarking systems with a large BPO organization does more harm to a small service provider than good, because the large BPO business management systems require a larger “critical mass” of budgets, expertise, team and diversity to have the desired high-impact – exactly the things that a small BPO enterprise would call luxuries. Small BPO enterprises, instead, need systems and processes that take advantage of the adaptability and speed at which change can be effected inside them through faster communication, stronger personal bonds and more informal culture. The BCI BSDQ-09™, BSDQ-14™ and BTMQ-07™ certifications are designed to help small BPO organizations leverage their latent agility and responsiveness to deliver the same high quality of services to their clients as their more known, better managed, larger counterparts do.
To share your own experiences of running or managing a small BPO enterprise and how have you handled the challenges of “growth despite size”, please write to us at email@example.com. Your contribution may be published in one of BCI’s international newsletters and inspire an organization.