Technology and globalization intersect at a positive note and that has changed the way businesses are done. This has also created new business avenues and opportunities for Business Process Outsourcing industry in the international marketplace.
The BPO – Business Process Outsourcing trend is accelerating, and now has become a subset of outsourcing, that commonly involved the contracting of the operations and responsibilities of a specific business process to a third party service provider.
Though, BPO is stereotypically categorized into back office outsourcing, it successfully includes internal business functions like HR, Finance and Accounting, and Front office outsourcing for customer related services such as contact centers. Apart from these, several outsourcing segments within the global industry include business services, energy, technology, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, retail, travel and transport, and telecom and media.
The best outsourcing providers took up challenges and mitigated the involved risks, by addressing the concerns these clients had about placing their work offshore, with help of their innovative project management strategies. No wonder, revenue of the global outsourced services industry has steadily increased from $45 billion in 2000 to $100 billion in 2012 and $28.5 billion in 2014 announcing India to be the best country for offshoring, when its financial attractiveness, skills and availability of its people, and its business environment were considered together.
Not to hide the push back from several offshore consumers about the poor services at a few international call centers, one thing is for sure that more a company is willing to think globally, they open new avenues for greater and sustainable profits. Outsourcing service providers offer highly skilled, educated, cost effective workforce. However, several organizations are still apprehensive, due to aforesaid reasons, about having people from thousands of miles away support some of their critical business functions.
All said and done, it is a healthy partnership between businesses and outsourcing Service providers, with its roots and penetration way back to the inception of successful business mantras. However; market dynamics pose new challenges to this partnership very often, and one of such challenge is what I wish to discuss here in this article.
Companies and organizations in market for at least 4-5 years now; are well aware that a lot of businesses face doom as a result of conflicts between owners and the outsourcing service providers. By the time they realize that things are not moving smoothly as anticipated between them, they have reached a stage where they can’t work together and hence part ways.
Being a part of the Outsourcing industry for more than 15 years now, I have seen clients taking their outsourcing service providers for granted, making them feel uncomfortable very often. This leads to nowhere, except bitterness in the relationship and finally the unexpected happens, the partnership breaks. Some of you might have experienced this and will be able to co-relate well to this situation. And for other fortunate ones, this piece of advice might work to their advantage – and a caution as well.
If I put it honestly, there merely is no difference in maintaining a business partnership and a marriage. Both of them need the highest level of commitment, while keeping a tab on each other’s ego and dignity. This implies that you opt for the right kind of Outsourcing Service Partner in the first place itself, but more importantly you should be in charge of your ego – if you want the partnership to succeed.
Let me share some points to make it crystal clear for one and all. I would request you all to share your views in the comments section, i.e. if you feel like adding something more to this article.
1. Expectation setting – it is mandatory
My outsourcing experience says that, people dedicated to their startups feel really proud by overdoing things like over committing to clients, working overtime, over imagining and expecting unrealistic results, and so on so forth. Accordingly, these type of clients end up over expecting the same from their outsourcing service partners as well; and trust me this is where real problems start. Quote me when I say it’s a sheer thoughtless stand to disturb your Outsourcing service provider’s schedules and arrangements, because ultimately you start expecting them as well to put in those “not so required extra efforts”, just because you have been overdoing it.
“If I can work for more than 12 hours a day – why can’t the BPO team do so?”
“If I am ignoring my priorities – why can’t they and their teams work extra hours?”
If you ever get on to this thought process about your outsourcing service provider, just shirk out these thoughts immediately – else the partnership may not sustain.
2. Respect their opinion, they are your innovative partners
For instance one of your processes is being managed by your outsourcing partner for more than 2-4 years now. It might be one of the processes from your routine operations, however, they are the ones who have the insight to guide you to process improvements that lead to enhanced operational efficiency and customer satisfaction in a cost effective manner. Don’t forget that it is their core competency.Respect your outsourcing partner and their opinions as they know your process in and out, at times, better than you. Don’t take into consideration their opinions and you probably will never be in a position to win over your innovative outsourcing partner.
Needless to explain the gravity of a scenario where you hurt someone’s self-respect, that leads to an unpleasant situation. Every organization has high and low phases, and they need some time to recuperate from their low phase. Respect their independence and priorities, as much as yours, while they consciously ensure to be responsive to all the SLs – Service Levels, agreed upon with your organization.
It is normal for you as a businessman to feel good when things are falling in place; however, maintaining your cool in not so favorable situations is the litmus test for you. It’s really important to maintain your cool and tide situations out at the earliest.
Being one of those “TRUE BLUE” businessmen, you very well know the difference between “Difference of opinion and “ignoring someone’s opinion by disrespecting them’.
3. Transparency and integrity go hand in hand
Be transparent with your outsourcing service provider, it is absolutely important, to build integrity, trust and positive attitude. Tell me honestly, would you like your partner providing you with convoluted facts or agendas? So it is more than important for you to show them the real picture, especially when things are not moving in the correct direction, not to demoralize them – but to reach out to facts and figures to face and resolve the challenge. You can go a step ahead and allow them to decide based on what they have observed as “Process Specialists”, after all your processes are their core competencies.
Hiding secrets for long is practically impossible, and the damage that it makes is lot more severe when discovered suddenly or by someone else. Be transparent, it will help you overcome internal challenges and opens up new and profitable avenues of managing your operations.
4. Know your responsibilities
In not so favorable times the easiest way is to blame the other team for whatever has gone wrong, but really tough to accept the blame ourselves. And believe me or not, the reason for this problem is one’s ego, which very often is the inception of an end to a successful partnership.
Such situations are common these days in this dynamic market, and hence self-control is the best thing one can possess. It’s more than important that you remain calm, analyze things and reach a conclusion. Whoever may be the responsible party, for a particular loss, either of the side, should ensure not to hurt feelings of the opposite in that burst of anger, but convey the message appropriately and assertively in a positive and polite tone.
5. Let your internal matters be really INTERNAL
Have you seen married couples fighting over small issues, and then making things grow ugly by involving their parents and best friends, while looking out for a solution? This is one of those perfect recipes to turn small arguments into big fights, and finally the partnership comes to a sour end. Similarly clients and outsourcing partners also tend to ruin things by involving friends in the name of so called “second opinion” or “expert or consultant advice”. This has proved to be a disastrous approach numerous times when others get involved in your fights, situations often turn for the worse when a single bad suggestion is proffered and accepted.
So, clients and their outsourcing partners, need to mature to a level where then can resolve the clashes themselves; without involving any outsiders – unless it is a dire necessity! Also, try not to argue or share crude feedback on the production floor in front of the team members, it leaves a very bad impression, instead let the stakeholders discuss it out in a mutually agreeable manner.
6. Your business is important for them as their business
If your business is the most important thing for you, so it must be the same for your outsourcing service provider as well. But one thing that all need to realize is, for them your business is their business – their bread and butter.Your business grows their business too.
So why not be a bit considerate about their core competencies and business priorities? See it is very clear, if you support your business partner with the same zeal that you expect for yourself from them, you win their trust, and eventually, they will be more than happy to bring in that value proposition to your business – that certainly will help you grow your business.
If they continue providing services out of compulsion, forget about integrity, opinions for process improvements and any sort of value propositions for your business.
For all your in house processes, these Outsourcing Service Providers are the experts equipped with skilled workforce with deep domain expertise, may it be BPO Services, Software development Services, Architectural – Engineering and Construction services, or Engineering solution providers; give them loads of good reasons to stay with you, and they will never leave you for sure.
Goodness of your heart and their trust in you and your leadership, are the key differentiators that make your outsourcing service provider to become the Innovative partner to your vision.
As a business owner your image is of an iron man– both personally and professionally. You have those killer instincts and an exceptional ability to manage business challenges is what people admire you for. So why not put all this together and evolve as one of those best business partners? Start acknowledging your innovative outsourcing business partner for the smallest of their initiatives or good work. All great relationships in life have one thing in common – respect for others.
I am hopeful of you handling the relationship with your outsourcing partner well, I wish you all the luck and success in your business and life.
So now, if you are reading this line, you have come a long way with this article and hence I request you to please feel free to comment below – if you agree or disagree or would want to add some of your thoughts – that are distinct.
About Author:Ritesh Sanghani is a Director at Hi-Tech BPO for the past 10+ years. Ritesh has worked with several international clients and has executed BPO projects of varying scales and complexities.