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Business Process Outsourcing – Essential Elements to Look For in Service Providers’ Proposals

Distance, time zones, culture and language no longer limit where companies of any size have customers, suppliers or service providers in this age of seamless commerce between continents. One key to success – and survival – is finding a reliable, experienced business partner who performs essential back-office services at reduced cost but not reduced accuracy, speed or security.

Global economic changes and technology advances make it vital for companies in a diverse array of industries to examine the benefits of transferring specific businesses processes to a responsive, knowledgeable provider who re-engineers and executes the functions according to each client’s standards at a guaranteed cost.

As Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) partnerships become increasingly common, companies lose their competitive position unless they trim expenses by letting domestic or offshore specialists administer routine support functions.

Motivations for Action

BPO solutions let organizations focus on core business operations, improve quality, increase customer response time and reduce capital investment. Instead of using staff, IT resources and office equipment for administrative work, assets can be redirected to the main mission.

While all categories of companies gain competitive advantages, BPO is particularly valuable for mid-size and small businesses. Specialized skills, technology and economies of scale let a partner perform services more efficiently and cost-effectively than insiders can.

Outsourced support includes processing applications, orders, invoices and payments, as well as these functions:

  • Credit transactions
  • Collection
  • Claims verification and adjudication
  • Customer inquiry responses
  • Payroll and employee benefits management
  • Policy renewals
  • Document preparation and management
  • Explanation of benefits
  • Market research
  • Electronic record storage
  • Mailroom services
  • Database creation and management.

Some companies also convert documents via digitizing, scanning or microfilming. Critical records can be stored in secure Internet repository “vaults” for authorized access, and electronic records can be reformatted.

Firms That Benefit Most

These industries are particularly well-suited to gain advantages from the flexibility and innovation that accompanies BPO agreements:

Insurance, financial services, health care, legal, pharmaceuticals, utilities, manufacturing, catalogue sales, direct-mail marketing, transportation/logistics, publishing and government services.

Successful BPO partnerships require a solution provider with industry experience and critical knowledge that exceeds client needs. This lets both parties exchange information smoothly, anticipate each other’s requirements and coordinate work flow efficiently. Providers must be intimately familiar with industry standards, regulatory compliance and terms of reference.

Ideally, an insightful provider will add value by suggesting innovative approaches to meet needs without increasing turnaround time, cost or in-house actions.

True Partners, Not Vendors

Whether they are located onshore or overseas, outsourced service providers also must “speak the same language” in terms of business processes, industry dynamics, quality certifications and competitive pressures. The provider should demonstrate a deep understanding of the client business at a macro and micro level. That defines a full BPO partner, rather than simply a vendor of off-the-shelf services.

Potential clients should be confident that the supplier brings not only outsourcing credentials, but relevant credentials. Time should not be spent educating a supplier about details and nuances of the industry.

In addition to vertical industry experience, top-quality BPO suppliers have:

  • Experienced, trained full-time staff working around the clock
  • Multiple-level accuracy safeguards such as double-key data entry
  • Strict quality assurance procedures with manual reviews
  • Tested precautions to assure electronic and physical security
  • Independent certifications and performance evaluations

Those are basic guidelines for evaluating BPO proposals. A prospective partner’s business background, familiarity with Western commerce and record of progressively sophisticated projects also provide evidence of reliability, initiative, innovation and compatibility.

The need for cost-cutting and scalable services remains urgent in virtually all industries as companies position themselves for post-recession growth. Reliable, responsive outsourcing providers are strategic allies for the long term.

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