Business process outsourcing (BPO) was once the domain of big businesses with big budgets and big needs. It usually referred to “big” processes, too, like manufacturing on a grand scale. And it was also commonly associated with the controversial practice of “offshoring” – where a business would engage in the process of outsourcing its needs to BPO solution providers in developing nations.
Today – due to the convergence of the Internet, new technology, and a global talent pool – business process outsourcing is no longer just for big businesses. Small and medium businesses have become a rapidly growing part of the business process outsourcing space (even home-based businesses are waking up to – and taking advantage of – the benefits of business process outsourcing).
And, unlike in the past, big budgets and big needs are not required for entry into the business process outsourcing space. The BPO solution of today is now so scalable that a huge number of BPO projects are really nothing more than basic tasks that commonly consist of only a few hours of work. And with contractor charge-out rates that start at less than $1.00 per hour (the old adage that “you get what you pay for” should not be ignored), it’s not uncommon for many business process outsourcing projects to cost less than $50 or $100.
Finally, while offshore options continue to be alive and well in the business process outsourcing space, there are a growing number of BPO solution provider contractors that can be found within the US, Canada, and the rest of the Western World, necessitating a reconsideration of the meaning of the term “offshore.”
Clearly, while the fundamental underpinnings of business process outsourcing remain the same, who uses BPO – and how they access a BPO solution – has undergone a dramatic transformation.
And it’s a transformation that’s worth taking note of.
Business Process Outsourcing is a Simple and Straightforward Process
Although there are differences between what every “new breed” BPO solution provider offers and also differences in how client companies work with the various BPO solution providers, the process for outsourcing a project is pretty similar for all BPO solution providers and generally involves – to one degree or another – the following steps:
- Signing up for a free account
- Finding a contractor or contractors for a project or ongoing work, which consists of either:
- Posting a scope document, specifying project/work details, rate of pay or project value, and contractor requirements; or
- Searching for a contractor by specifying parameters in the contractor search facility such as pay rate, experience, number of hours logged, feedback rating, and so forth
- Choosing contractor or awarding a project or work assignment
- Handing over project or work assignment details and any “raw” materials
- Inviting coworkers into a virtual “work room” if desired or necessary
- Monitoring work in progress
- Reviewing and signing off on completed projected or work assignment and virtual “timesheets”
As you can see, the process is pretty painless. And, more importantly, it’s also very effective at delivering on desired outcomes – due, in no small part, to unprecedented levels of transparency into work-in-progress that allow for course-correction throughout the process and that also ensures that companies pay only for work that gets done.
Business Process Outsourcing Offers a Wide Range of Outsourcing Opportunities
While an exhaustive list of tasks, projects, and processes that can be outsourced to the “new breed” of BPO solution providers is beyond the scope of this article, the following list provides a high-level overview of the many opportunities for business process outsourcing:
- Web Development
- Software Development
- Networking and Information Systems
- Writing and Translation
- Business Services
- Graphic Design
- Customer Service
- Sales and Marketing
- Administrative Support
Make sure that you give careful consideration to the types of tasks and processes that are listed above, especially those that are alive and well in your business but that are not core to what you do.
They are prime candidates for the kind of business process outsourcing solution that the new breed of providers offers (even if you’re currently outsourcing to a local business).
Best Way for Newcomers to Get Started with Business Process Outsourcing
The best way for any business (or individual entrepreneur) to get started with the new breed of business process outsourcing providers is to run several small-scale tests with different contractors on low-risk projects.
Choose some time-intensive, everyday tasks that don’t require a high level of skill but that drag on your productive time (or on the productive time of someone else in your business) and that, if you were able to spin them off to someone else at a low cost, would free you up to focus more of your time on revenue-generating activities.
This way, you’re free of the burden of risk – which should help you get past the “should we or shouldn’t we” question – and you’ll get to experience the process of working with a BPO solution provider – and the many benefits of business process outsourcing – first-hand.