Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) can easily come off as a complex industry full of used car salesmen types. However, there is no doubt that American businesses are reaping the benefits associated with outsourcing. I had the opportunity to recently interview, Rohit Barman, consultant for 30 year old BPO service provider, DPS Technologies, who outlined some key outsourcing know-how’s for any business considering the offshore advantage.
Barman is the president of DPS America, and a 2nd generation BPO agent. His experience includes setting up a HIPAA compliant KPO- centric customer support facility for a Medicare Part D program catering to 70,000 beneficiaries, establishing a BPO-centric 24/7 medical emergency response service, and founding a NY based internet marketing solutions provider with an offshore facility in Kolkata, India.
Q: Describe the role of the “middle man” in business process outsourcing. What makes an executive at a BPO vendor fit this description?
A: A “middle man” is traditionally an outsourcing agent, usually lives in the United States, and is of the same ethnic background of the BPO vendor.
Q: Which BPO services do you recommend outsourcing? and which ones would you say no to?
A: It really depends on the country you are outsourcing to.
When it comes to IT software, internet marketing, and data entry work, India is clearly the offshore leader.
For customer support efficiencies (cell centers), the Philippines has pretty incredible results. Their spoken English skills are comparable, if not better than most Americans.
For hardware support, I would recommend China or Taiwan.
I would not recommend outsourcing art direction, writing/ editing, telemarketing, or any service that requires higher level familiarity with our local culture & communication.
Q: Fraud is an unfortunate side effect of any business, and the complexity of a BPO service certainly opens the door for various types of scams. Have you ever seen an outsourcing executive resort to a pricing scam like bait-and-switch, hidden fees, or false billing?
A: Being a 2nd generation BPO middle men, I have grown up in the outsourcing world. I’ve worked as a BPO vendor, BPO buyer, and a BPO middle man. In my experience, I have witnessed pricing scams, but I’ve actively stayed clear from affiliating myself with such businesses. BPO executives are no different than executives of US firms. You should not sign a deal, till you are comfortable with your research & analyzed your risk.
Q: Have you ever witnessed a BPO executive exaggerate what they can deliver in order to make a sale, or charge higher rates?
A: Of-course, the good news is that I’m familiar with global BPO rates & service standards, and utilize my familiarity to negotiate pricing.
Q: How can a company be on guard for these types of unethical practices, ensuring that the value they get from outsourcing is real? What can a BPO buyer do to ensure transparency, reliability, and data security in their deal with an offshore vendor?
A: Business should not underestimate the amount of research and background checks you have to do when selecting an outsourcing vendor, even if they were recommended to you. Some imperative research includes asking yourself…
Who is the middle man/ agent? – look up records for felony, fraud, and other potential misdemeanors in the United States. There are several BPO middle men in the United States who have settled law suits out of court, and have paid their way back into building a business reputation. Ignoring such an important red flag is no different than getting married to a heroin addict – your partnership is doomed.
Look up the BPO production facility to see how long they have been around? Ask for local references, and verify them.
Don’t fall victim to the “yes, we can do everything spiel. I’ve heard it a million times.
Q: Is it possible to settle on a performance scale that uses accepted methods?
A: Buyers should always set up a quality management system in-house. If you open this up to the BPO vendor, you risk being exposed to improper reporting. Conduct monthly reviews based on quantitative reasoning.
Q: While there are always a few of the proverbial “bad apples” in every industry, what has been your overall experience working with BPO companies?
A: A good outsourcing partnership could be a lifelong marriage. If trust & efficiency can be established within the first 6 months to a year, the BPO vendor & business buyer will experience significantly stronger ROI & customer service satisfaction.