Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
After identifying a procedure that, while important for its operations, is not part of its core value proposition, an organization often contracts with another company for these services. Strong business process management and a thorough understanding of organizational processes are necessary for this level.
What exactly is BPO (business process outsourcing)?
Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a method of conducting business in which a company hires an outside service provider to carry out a crucial duty or activity.
Payroll and accounting are two examples of procedures that are frequently considered to be ideal candidates for BPO by many firms.
Enterprise executives frequently decide there is little value in having their people do these commodity operations because they typically do not distinguish one firm from another. Companies estimate that outsourcing these procedures to an expert source could result in better outcomes.
BPO’s origins are in the manufacturing sector. After deciding that outside vendor could provide more expertise, speed, and cost efficiencies to certain processes than an internal staff could, manufacturers recruited them to manage several aspects of their supply chains. Organizations in other sectors eventually started using it.
Why is BPO employed?
Businesses use business process outsourcing primarily for the front-office and back-office portions of their operations.
The term “back-office functions,” sometimes known as “internal business functions,” refers to support activities like accounting, IT services, HR, quality assurance, and payment processing.
Customer relationship management, marketing, and sales are a few examples of front-office activities and corporate operations that relate to or serve current and potential consumers.
Some businesses hire just one vendor to handle an entire function, like the HR division. Some businesses only outsource particular tasks within a functional area, such as payroll processing, and handle all other HR tasks in-house.
Processes that are frequently outsourced include the following:
- accounting and payroll
- customer service
- IT services and management
- logistics and shipping
Additionally, some businesses outsource important operations like data mining and data analytics, which are now crucial components of preserving a competitive advantage in the digital economy.
The most often outsourced tasks are IT, finance, and payroll, according to Deloitte’s “2021 Global Shared Services and Outsourcing Survey Report.”
How does BPO function?
There are many reasons why corporate leaders choose to outsource a company process. These factors include market pressures, economic conditions, and the type, age, and size of the organization.
Startup businesses, for instance, frequently have to outsource back-office and front-office tasks because they lack the internal resources to do them.
If an established business discovers that a third-party service provider might handle the activity more effectively or more affordably than it could, it may decide to outsource it. Enterprise leaders are advised by management gurus to identify tasks that can be outsourced and then assess if doing so makes sense.
If so, the business must go through the process of choosing the appropriate vendor for the job as well as moving it from internal resources to the external supplier. Given that switching to an outsourced provider typically affects staff, established procedures, and current workflows, this calls for a large level of change management.
The decision to use an external provider has an impact on the organization’s finances as well. This is true not only in terms of the costs that are transferred from internal to external suppliers, but also frequently in terms of corporation taxes and reporting requirements.
To facilitate a seamless transfer of work to the outsourced provider, the business might also need to invest in new technology. The scope of the function being outsourced and the maturity of the technology infrastructure in place at both businesses determine the extent and expense of that technology.
Enterprise executives often begin this process by deciding which individual tasks or business procedures to outsource to save costs, increase flexibility, boost performance, and reallocate resources to their core business competencies.
The next question for business owners is whether one vendor should handle all of the outsourcing work or if hiring different providers for diverse jobs will yield the greatest results. For instance, a business might opt to outsource the majority of its HR duties and then either engage one supplier to handle all the outsourced tasks or contract with two different providers, one for payroll and the other for benefits administration.
These factors ought to result in a list of specifications and a thorough scope of work for outsourcing. These are used by organizations to create a request for proposals (RFP) that they then share with suppliers to see whether they can meet the specifications, at what cost, and with what value-adds.
A company must choose the type of contract after choosing the provider or providers it intends to hire. These agreements typically fall into one of the following groups:
- Time and materials agreements, in which the client pays the service provider according to the quantity and quality of the materials used; or
- Fixed-price agreements, establish an up-front cost for the required work. Organizations must also create a service-level agreement with their providers that outlines the caliber of the services offered and the metrics for success.
Some businesses additionally discuss the following options with service providers depending on their needs and the type of task they are outsourcing:
- team members that are specifically assigned to their outsourced work;
- just onshore employees, or employees scattered globally; or
- Employees are on call 24 hours a day or only at specific hours.
What advantages does BPO offer?
Deloitte discovered that businesses want the following advantages from outsourcing in its 2021 report:
- 88% of responders mentioned process standardization and efficiency;
- Cost savings were mentioned by 84%.
- driving business value was stated by 73%;
- 61% mentioned an expedited digital agenda;
- 59% mentioned expanding abilities; and
- 36% mentioned corporate strategies and plans.
The following are advantages of BPO that proponents frequently list:
- Financial advantages. BPO providers can frequently complete a corporate function for less money or help the organization save cash in other ways, including tax deductions.
- Increased adaptability BPO contracts may give firms the option to change how an outsourced business process is carried out, allowing them to respond more quickly to shifting market conditions.
- The greater advantage in the marketplace. An organization can concentrate more of its resources thanks to BPO on activities that set it apart from competitors.
- Greater caliber and improved performance. BPO providers are in a good position to accomplish the work with increased accuracy, efficiency, and speed because business processes are their primary focus.
- Access to business process innovations. BPO providers are more likely to be aware of developments in the process areas in which they have expertise. As a result, they are more inclined to make investments in cutting-edge technologies, like automation, that can increase the efficiency, affordability, and caliber of the work.
- Increased coverage By working with a BPO provider with round-the-clock capabilities and multiple geographic locations, organizations who want 24/7 call center operations may frequently quickly acquire such capability, enabling a follow-the-sun business model.
What dangers do BPOs pose?
A few BPO dangers are as follows:
- Breaches of security. As enterprises frequently need to exchange sensitive and regulated data with their service providers, the technology connection between the hiring company and the BPO provider presents another point of entry for criminal actors.
- Regulations that must be followed. The regulatory requirements of an organization apply to its outsourced work as well, therefore it must make sure that the vendors it hires comply with the laws the business must abide by and the regulations that apply to its outsourced work.
- Higher or unexpected costs. The amount of work that has to be done can sometimes be underestimated by organizations, which can result in higher expenditures than expected.
- Relationship difficulties Organizations may experience communication issues with their contracted service providers or discover that there are cultural differences.
- Excessive reliance on outside providers. When a company outsources a task or service, it is bound to the partner that completes the work. To make sure that important goals are achieved at the agreed-upon cost, the business must manage that connection. If not, it could be challenging for the company to relocate the contract to another outsourced supplier or even bring the operation back in-house.
- Greater likelihood of disturbance. A business needs to keep an eye out for problems that could sever or otherwise disrupt its relationship with an outsourced supplier. These include issues with the outsourced provider’s finances or employees, unrest in the world’s politics, natural calamities, or adjustments in the economy. Businesses must take these risks into account and develop coping mechanisms, which increases the complexity of their business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
What different BPOs are there?
Based on the location of the service provider, BPO is frequently categorized into the following types:
- When a business makes a deal with a company in another nation to receive services, this is known as offshore outsourcing.
- Onshore outsourcing, also known as domestic outsourcing, occurs when a corporation hires a company that conducts business in the same nation as the hiring company.
- When a company contracts with businesses located in nearby nations to offer services, this practice is known as nearshore outsourcing.
BPO services are categorized by the research firm Gartner as either vertically-specific or horizontally-specific offers, depending on which functions are used in which industries.
The KPO, LPO, and RPO
The following three categories are frequently used to categorize business process outsourcing according to the services offered:
- In knowledge process outsourcing (KPO), the outsourced service provider is recruited not only for their ability to carry out a certain business function or process but also for their knowledge in that area.
- A sort of KPO specifically geared toward providing legal services, legal process outsourcing (LPO) includes anything from preparing legal documents and conducting legal research to providing advice.
- Biotech businesses, investment firms, and marketing agencies are a few examples of the kinds of enterprises that engage in research process outsourcing (RPO), another sort of KPO, for services.
How to pick a BPO company
Enterprise executives should choose BPO providers who can assist them achieve their business goals and become more innovative, flexible, and competitive. As a result, while selecting a provider, businesses should take into account more factors than just the contract’s cost. They must also take into account how well the supplier can fulfill those other requirements, assessing each provider to see if it possesses the following:
- a sufficient understanding of the business and sector of the corporation;
- the ability to scale up to meet future needs while also being able to meet existing requirements;
- a grasp of and capacity for meeting compliance, regulatory, and data privacy issues;
- reporting statistics to show that it is fulfilling contractual obligations; and
- the geographic areas that will satisfy both corporate needs and legal requirements.
BPO industry size
Research organizations forecast that the market for global business process outsourcing will keep expanding.
Throughout the upcoming ten years. For instance, Grand View Research anticipated that the worldwide BPO industry will reach $525.2 billion in 2030 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1% from 2022 to 2021 of $245.9 billion.
Similar growth is predicted by analysis from Data Bridge Market Research’s research, “Global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Market, By Regions, 2022 to 2029,” which projects that the BPO market would grow at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2022 to 2029 and reach $422.6 billion in that year. It identified business demands for increased efficiency and agility as the main drivers of such expansion.
Future developments in the BPO sector
Executives continue to specify and reorder from the vendors they hire to perform their business processes what they need and want.
When asking more than 200 business decision-makers and leaders about the criteria they would use to assess their BPO providers in 2021, the service provider CGS discovered the following:
- 6% cite compliance and data privacy as their top priorities;
- 9% desire a knowledge partner with cutting-edge technological capabilities from their providers;
- 3% assess BPOs based on their technological prowess; and
- 3% of companies prefer BPOs with extensive knowledge of their industrial verticals.
But while business process outsourcing may be at least partially replaced by technology in the next years, BPO vendors are also facing disruption.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) can handle some of the business tasks that are currently often outsourced, and these technologies can frequently carry out such functions at cheaper costs and faster speeds.
Successful providers are using both shared services and outsourcing models, according to Deloitte’s “2021 Global Shared Services and Outsourcing Survey Report,” and they are incorporating continuous improvement and innovation into their workforce strategies. The survey also revealed that providers consider RPA to be one of their top transformational enablers.