Choosing to outsource a portion of your business is a smart move. In fact, outsourcing has become a trend in recent years and is expected to increase dramatically over the next decade because of its advantages: flexibility, efficiency, ingenuity, and profitability…. The list goes on.
Undoubtedly, one of the most important benefits of working with a BPO is expertise. An experienced outsourcing partner is an expert in a particular area, whether it be customer service, IT, human resources, etc. That means they know best practices, effective workflows, emerging technologies, and training strategies to accelerate your business and provide the best value to your customer.
One key advantage is worth noting: control. Specifically, you have a higher degree of control, not only because you can quickly scale staffing to meet market demands, but also because you can select the BPO partner that is right for your business. The partnership can be as temporary or as continuous as you desire, meaning that a BPO must work hard and produce tangible results to retain your business.
Establishing why you should work with a BPO is the easy part. How to select the right BPO is a bit trickier. As you might imagine, not all BPOs are created equal. You want to choose the partner who will produce the highest return on your investment. Moreover, not all BPOs strive to match their culture to your business values and goals. So it’s essential to clearly understand what you are looking for and how to evaluate your options.
10 Ways to Evaluate a BPO
Define your specific outsourcing needs.
Before you begin your search for the right BPO, it’s important to clearly understand what you’re looking for. What aspects of your business do you want to outsource? What are your specific needs and challenges when it comes to that area? What tangible goals do you hope to achieve with a BPO partnership?
These are questions that any respectable BPO will ask to understand your business and what a partnership might look like. The more specific you are, the more productive the conversation will be.
- Look for expertise to match your needs.
With your list of specific needs and goals in hand, it’s much easier to identify potential BPOs. You should create a short list of 3-5 companies with the expertise to help you reach your goals. What is their area of expertise? Are they knowledgeable about industry best practices and effective workflows? Do they utilize current technologies to improve project outcomes? What specific skills will be an advantage to your business? The key to selecting the right BPO is understanding its value proposition and the benefits that set it apart from other vendors.
Consider company culture.
This criterion goes beyond skill sets and track records to examine the underlying values of a BPO. What are its priorities? Are they genuinely invested in helping your business grow? Are they excited to learn more about your business and to provide unique solutions?
Just as crucial as a BPO’s attitude toward you is its attitude toward other constituents. How are their employees valued and encouraged? How does it support the larger community? Working with a BPO whose values and company culture align with your own will enhance mutual understanding and synergy.
- Investigate performance for previous clients.
You can learn a lot about a BPO through its portfolio and its existing relationship with clients. What kinds of projects has this company done similar to yours? How did they address particular challenges and business goals? Are they able to meet established deadlines? Do they typically meet or exceed set goals? Some BPOs even publish case studies and other data points demonstrating these key performance indicators. It might also help to speak with past and present clients about these areas.
Understand your budget and how pricing works.
As you approach potential BPOs, it’s helpful to have an understanding of what your budget is. Indeed, working with an outsourcing partner is a great way to save money because you aren’t paying for salaries, benefits, equipment, etc.
However, it’s helpful to think about your work with a BPO as an investment. A truly successful partnership is just as much about increasing profits as it is reducing expenses. To that end, you should decide how much money you are willing to invest and be sure you understand how pricing is structured.
- Evaluate security measures.
Because a BPO will have access to your customers’ information, it’s crucial that you investigate how they will ensure privacy and protect sensitive information. How is customer data stored and retrieved? Who has access to this information? What security measures are in place to prevent sensitive data from falling into the wrong hands? Signing a non-disclosure agreement to restrict access to specific data is also common.
- Prioritize collaboration and open communication.
The most effective BPO is one that is willing to partner with you to understand your needs and provide effective solutions. Since nobody knows your business better than you do, you should have input from the very beginning about key strategies and workflows. There should also be a feedback loop that keeps you apprised of ongoing successes and challenges and provides opportunities for you to decide how to move forward as a team.
- Select a flexible partner.
Because your needs will fluctuate based on market demands and other variables, you’ll want a BPO who can be flexible to make the necessary adjustments related to staffing, workflows, and problem-solving. It’s crucial your BPO can respond swiftly to needs that arise, especially if they are in a different time zone.
- Understand training procedures.
An important aspect of any BPO is how it recruits and trains the employees who conduct day-to-day activities on your behalf. What types of skills and dispositions do they look for in an employee? What does the training process look like for new hires? Are there opportunities for ongoing training and professional development? You might also consider employee morale and job satisfaction—aspects of the BPO that aren’t quite as tangible but directly impact productivity and overall performance.
- Visit the facility.
If possible, make a trip to the BPO facility to meet in person with company executives and employees and see them in action. This trip can go a long way to develop a positive working relationship, a better sense of company culture, and a clearer understanding of operations.
Of course, once you select a BPO, the process isn’t over. It’s essential to continually assess performance and the dynamics of your working relationship to keep things moving in the right direction. Remember that open communication is a two-way street; your BPO will need productive feedback and the opportunity to adjust accordingly.
Yes, evaluating a BPO can be pretty extensive, but selecting the right outsourcing partner to meet your needs and grow your business is worth the time and effort.