By Steve Rudderham
Most outsourcing arrangements are literally “out” sourced in that services are delivered from a remote location. Whether that location is within a few miles of your corporate headquarters or on the other side of the globe, you need to ensure the services are delivered in the appropriate manner without physically being there to oversee the operation. The provider often promises an “extension of your operations”, but this task often winds up being one of the biggest challenges of BPO, but fortunately there are a few basic steps BPO buyers can take to manageably ensure quality service delivery from remote locations.
Communicate to Effectively Run Your Virtual Team
When BPO services are delivered from a remote location, the buyer becomes the head of a virtual team whose members may be scattered across different countries and continents. The most important factor in effectively running this type of virtual team is communication. There needs to be a regular rhythm to your virtual BPO team communication, with team meetings happening on a monthly or even weekly basis. With the continuing advances in communication technologies such as videoconferencing, getting remote employees “together” for regular meetings should be less of an issue than it was in the past.
Remember it’s important for team members to see faces. Also remember that when you are communicating your goals and expectations to your virtual BPO team, the substance of your communications should go beyond “Here’s my agenda.” Let team members know why your agenda is relevant, so they don’t say “so what” upon hearing it.
Select the Right Team Members
Of course, even the most effective communications have little impact if they fall upon the ears of those who don’t understand or care what you are trying to accomplish. Members of the virtual team should be collaborative people who are open to other ideas, work cross-culturally and are effective communicators themselves. 80% of being a good communicator is being a good listener. These people will then help translate your goals and expectations to the broader local culture of your BPO provider. Ulimately it will be about communicated your shared vision to the teams
Metrics, Metrics, Metrics
Ensuring quality remote BPO service delivery also requires transparency and control of the operation. The best way to achieve transparency and control is through the use of metrics which are regularly updated and drive the entire operation.
It shouldn’t matter where in the world your BPO services are originating from, because you should have one common global standard, which everyone understands, and is easily communicated. This means you need to have a good measurement system. For example, Capgemini has a BPO command center which drives consistency through metrics. The basis of your standard should be a well-documented operation manual with regular orbits against it, with the measuring system sitting on top.
And remember, part of being a good overall leader is communicating, so the leader in charge of it all needs to communicate what you’re trying to do but also live and breathe what you’re trying to do. Create a culture based on metrics which people can listen to and translate.
Obtaining Quality Service Delivery from Emerging Economies
Many popular BPO service destinations are located in emerging economies which pose their own special set of delivery challenges. When dealing with a provider located in an emerging part of the world, remember that your corporate headquarters must embrace the local culture – one shape does not fit all! Sometimes the local operation will have a “that won’t work here” attitude. To avoid this, make sure you get collaboration and provide clear guidelines so you can share consistency.
You don’t want the local operation interpreting anything, so you must provide them with strict guidelines while still respecting local customs and established ways of doing things. And the best way of all to ensure you obtain top quality services from providers in emerging economies is to simply get on a plane.
Despite advanced communication technologies, there is still no substitution for going out and seeing the operation and having the operation see you. Directly share what you expect and why you expect it. One strong initiaitive of Capgemini BPO is that we educate associates in different countries so they can answer the all-important question of “Why do I matter?”
Shake Things Up
My final, brief piece of advice is within the BPO operations and to look to shake things up to make sure lines of communication are open and best practices spread organically. Mix up your leadership. Send the leader of your Guatemalan BPO center to Poland and the leader of your Polish BPO center to Brazil, all while rotating executives in and out of your Indian BPO center. This allows you to share best practices from different delivery centers. Remember that best practices are not only about conforming to ideas from the top, but about adopting new ideas from every corner of the business.
Steve Rudderham is VP, Global Transition and Delivery Excellence of Capgemini.