How has the coronavirus disease changed your working life?
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven forward the concept of working from home at a pace that we never would have imagined possible before the outbreak began. Businesses around the globe have had to rejig their operations rapidly in order to accommodate social distancing, sector-wide shutdowns and national lockdowns.
In this context, today we’re exploring business process outsourcing (BPO) and its multiple advantages. Just like working from home, BPO is possible thanks to technological development.
If you’re outsourcing your communication and language needs at short notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as checking out the information below, you can also visit Tomedes’ Crisis Communication Center.
Want to know more about BPO? Then let’s dive in!
What is BPO? The BPO definition, according to Techopedia, is “the contracting of non-primary business activities and functions to a third-party provider.”
This definition of BPO encompasses a huge range of corporate functions. We’ll look at some of the key services that businesses tend to hand over to offshore outsourcing below. In the meantime, let’s just look at the size of the BPO business sector.
What do you imagine is the global market size of outsourced services? According to Statista, the figure is a staggering US$92.5 billion. That’s a whole heap of companies outsourcing a significant part of their operations.
IBIS World, meanwhile, reports that the BPO industry supports around a million direct employment opportunities. In light of this, shall we take a look at the kinds of services that companies can (and do) outsource?
Some services are easier to outsource than others. According to Brandon Gaille, for example, 74% of companies are currently using the BPO sector to meet their IT needs. IT has been a leader in the field when it comes to outsourcing over the years – along with outsourced customer services – with many companies using BPO services to save on the expense of running their own, in-house service.
Which other services do businesses outsource? Everything from translation and localization work to digital marketing is available when it comes to BPO experience.
Outsourcing legal services is something that companies around the world do routinely. After all, who but the biggest international conglomerates can afford their own in-house legal team?
Everything from employment contracts to partnership agreements between companies have legal implications. This means that such documentation needs to be prepared by lawyers, or at the very least checked over by them prior to it being signed.
Yet the need for such skills is often piecemeal, meaning an in-house lawyer may sit twiddling their thumbs for weeks on end, before finding they are suddenly swamped with work – for a week or two at least! Then it’s back to playing rubbish bin basketball until the next flurry of activity.
Outsourcing legal services is a sensible way to deal with peaks and troughs in demand while also having relevant expertise on tap, making this one of the most sought-after types of BPO.
Companies outsource all manner of translation and localization services and legal translation is certainly no exception. Being able to outsource business process in this area means that companies can access professional legal translation services when they need to, but without the cost of maintaining an in-house service.
All businesses need to do is to invest some time in finding the right translation and localization agency. After that, they can return to focusing on their core operational activities.
Outsourcing business process services really comes into its own where customer service is concerned. Between fast WiFi and video call technology, it’s not only possible to provide a customer service team in another country but relatively easy.
If you want to deliver a superb customer experience but don’t have the time or energy to set up your own systems and team, it’s time to investigate the BPO process. Using a BPO company means that you can deliver an outstanding customer experience with minimal effort.
In such circumstances, the BPO company will fully train its teams on your products and on the relevant workings of your business. The result? Knowledgeable, helpful customer service representatives who can deliver a first-rate service to your customers, all without your customers even being aware that you have outsourced your service.
Features of customer services teams usually include 24/7 availability and support for a range of contact mediums (email, phone, live chat, etc.). Some customer service providers also offer multilingual support, which is particularly useful for business that operate (or plan to operate) across international borders – or even in countries where the population speaks a range of languages natively.
Given the relatively easy setup process and significant time and cost savings for businesses that outsource their customer service departments, it is perhaps easy to understand why Statista reports that the customer care part of the BPO market is expected to grow to a value of approximately US$30.4 billion by 2027.
Does every company need an in-house finance team? In this day and age, certainly not. Finance departments are a luxury that larger companies enjoy without thinking, but many small and microbusinesses don’t need fulltime financial support – just assistance with key tasks. This is where financial services outsourcing comes into play.
Those with the expertise to correctly complete and submit their own company accounts are few and far between. Instead, this is a task that is usually outsourced to qualified professionals – and for good reason. Accounting mistakes can lead to significant headaches and, sometimes, legal action. Using a BPO company therefore provides plenty of peace of mind.
When it comes to economies of scale, a BPO offering purchasing services can make a lot of sense. On large company that takes care of purchasing on behalf of a multitude of small companies can often enjoy greater discounts with retails, more favourable credit terms and so forth. When sufficient economies of scale are achieved, these savings can be passed on to those using the BPO service.
Having an accurate budget for your business is key to staying on track financially. Yet not every company has the skills in house to take on this detailed and financially challenging task. Thanks to financial BPO services, it’s not a problem – companies can outsource their budgeting requirements to a BPO business, along with regular analysis to ensure that they are adhering to those budgets.
Payroll is a commonly outsourced service. It is an activity that comes with plenty of legal ramifications if carried out incorrectly, so outsourcing payroll services can buy a company peace of mind, as well as financial expertise.
Just like legal translation, financial translation is a specialist task that most companies don’t need to use fulltime. That’s why it makes sense to outsource it to a professional translation agency that can provide the relevant expertise when required.
Between them, social media and video have changed the way we market goods and services forever. However, traditional forms of marketing do still exist. Either way, business processes outsourcing services can take on the role of an in-house marketing department in order to deliver effective results.
Even companies with effective traditional marketing departments may feel the need to outsource business process when it comes to taking things digital. Digital marketing is a huge and rapidly changing area of work. Companies that lack the resources to assign fulltime teams to this don’t need to miss out – they can used BPO operations that are focused specifically on the marketing potential of digital media.
Of course, traditional marketing expertise is also something that it’s possible to outsource. Doing so can make a lot of sense for companies that are looking to streamline their in-house functions and focus on their core operations.
Plenty of translation agencies are available to provide marketing translation skills. Marketing translation is about more than words – both localization expertise and design skills are often required as part of the process, making this an ideal service to outsource if you don’t have the relevant skillset in house.
BPO means different things to different companies, with the term encompassing a vast range of activities, as we’ve seen above. Why do companies outsource? Well, outsourcing can deliver multiple advantages. As a translation agency that operates around the globe, we’ve certainly enjoyed some of those benefits ourselves over the years, as we regularly outsource work in certain areas.
Let’s explore some of the advantages that outsourcing can deliver!
Businesses that are looking to control their costs may find that outsourcing provides a more cost-effective solution than employing certain roles and departments directly. This is particularly so when the business only requires a certain service (such as legal support) some of the time.
Using a BPO service provider means that some businesses can save time as well as money. If a company has to invest a significant amount of time in working out how to do something, it’s possible to save that time by turning to an experienced BPO company that already has the relevant expertise.
Business process outsourcing also makes it simple for companies to deal with peaks and troughs of work. The BPO provider can assign multiple staff during peak times and then essentially rest idle during quieter times. Businesses that experience such patterns will do well to ensure their BPO company has no minimum spend, in order to avoid building up bills during quiet periods.
Companies often stretch the scope of employees’ job descriptions when they need new skills. For example, it’s not uncommon for marketing professionals to see their work stray over into public relations (PR) in response to company need. However, this negatively impacts the company’s ability to take care of its marketing. Using a BPO company to provide PR services would, in this instance, ensure the efficient use of the existing marketing resource.
Customers need (and increasingly expect) support in their own language. Not every business can afford to provide this if it means taking on fulltime employees who speak multiple languages. One advantage of the BPO industry, therefore, is that it can put multilingual support at companies’ fingertips in a cost-effective manner.
BPO services live and breathe their particular specialism. Whether they provide legal services, financial expertise or marketing prowess, BPOs can deliver an enhanced solution that far outweighs what a company could afford to provide in house.
Whether its legal or quality compliance that’s required, business that have to adhere to certain standards (for example as part of a contract) may find it easier to use professional BPO services to ensure compliance.
Companies that want to mitigate their risk when it comes to legal or financial matters can use a BPO to do so. A BPO that is responsible for producing a company’s accounts or running payroll, for example, will be responsible for producing accurate information and ensuring compliance with relevant taxation and social security requirements.
Using BPO services means that businesses can reduce the amount of time they spend focusing on matters that distract from their core focus. That focus was, after all, the reason that they started in business in the first place. The more attention they can devote to it, the better.
BPO companies that specialise in providing certain services will have all the latest technology that they need in order to do so. This could mean anything from costly financial software to powerful email marketing programs. The company using the BPO service therefore has access to the latest tech without having to pay for it itself.
Experiencing changes in customer demand can be tricky to deal with at the best of times. When the pace of those changes picks up – for example due to an external event, such as COVID-19 – a BPO company is often able to support a business to respond more smoothly and efficiently.
All of these advantages, and more, mean that relying on the BPO industry makes an awful lot of sense for businesses that are looking to operate as efficiently as possible.
Have you used BPO services? Leave a comment below to share your experiences of doing so!