by August 3, 2004 0 comments

Internally, the solutions have to be simple, yet efficient, enough such that the people working with them are comfortable using them. The core internal operations are attendance logging, scheduling of agents’ work, data mining for statistics generation, transport management, training and feedback from the agents. 

For example, since the agents work on a fixed daily hourly basis and are billed accordingly, transport management is critical as thousands of agents need to start and end work on time. Another example is that of scheduling the handling of voice calls from clients. Depending upon the number of calls handled, missed, time taken to complete by the agents, call forecasting and data mining is done. This tells the number of agents required to handle client requirements. A reliable CRM tool or solution is what is required here.

From the client’s side, they look not only for security, confidentiality and uptime but also for solutions that offer real-time monitoring and report generation for the process they outsource. The solutions that a BPO will deploy will depend on the process outsourced (HR, finance, accounting). Some of the important solutions here are billing, CRM and assets management. 

There are two types of solutions that a supplier of BPO services can choose from: build or buy. Building is more popular; fewer commercial solutions are available. A thorough exercise, such as vendor rating, cost-benefit analysis and past experience with the vendor is considered before going for commercial solution. 

The solutions developed in-house are the ones for operations and process, and the development process itself has a continuous involvement of the agents, team leaders and managers. In some cases, the client might provide access to the tools
and solution he’s already using, which the BPO can modify to suit itself. 

Technologies such as VoIP and IVR are required as support solutions. Some challenges here are strong client collaboration, service time, time taken for solution development and integration of technologies.

If a commercial solution is available, then a proper integration between it and in-house development is required. The solutions being developed must be reliable, easy to use and meet the needs of the client and agents anytime.

Though suppliers provide reliable technology solutions to clients, clients always have reason to raise issues as they are sending work to unknown destinations. 

By Sushil Oswal

Expert Opinion Sanjiv Kapur GM & SBU Head Patni Computer System, Noida

“When a client outsources work, he has some valid concerns, both business related and technology related. These get exacerbated when he

Sanjiv Kapur

The Indian BPO industry, though still growing, has already passed through three phases. The first phase saw MNCs setting up captive centers and the second phase witnessed VCs funding third parties. Established software-service companies are driving the third phase, which is the current phase. Typically, the type of work that BPO companies are today doing is customer-interaction services, back-office operations, data entry, data conversion, content development, engineering and design. 

IT infrastructure and solutions are the backbone of this industry. A huge investment in infrastructure is the most important requirement, and this is a continuous process.

When a client outsources work, he has some very valid concerns, both business related and technology related. These get exacerbated when he offshores-sends work outside his country-simply because he has far less control over it. As far as technology goes, these concerns are mostly in the areas of information and data security, uptime, backup and disaster recovery. From the business point of view, the worries are: will the supplier offer value-added services, will it be able to put system resources in place and scale up solutions in a short time. 

How does the supplier deal with these? 

The first problem to tackle is that of understanding the client’s processes and integrating them. There are two ways of doing this: either the supplier integrates the client’s processes into his own or he redesigns his solutions to match the client’s. For this, the supplier typically has an account manager who maintains the process and interacts with the client continuously. In this regard, the supplier has to implement monitoring and reporting solutions that not only meet the changing requirement of the client but are also simple for and the users to use. 

There is a need to offer solutions from basic service to end-end. For example, credit processing would require a system that’s reliable, offers real-time information, customer support and maintains the entire back office operations. 

Suppliers can also put the buyers’ worries at rest by if they have certifications from recognized agencies. Some accepted standards are COPC for call centers, ISO 9000 and CMM (Capability Maturity Model from Software Engineering Institute) for software, TL 9000 for telecom and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) for healthcare. Then there’s the People-Capability Maturity Model (P-CMM) as this is first and foremost a peoples’ business. 

As far as the industry scenario is concerned, the industry has gradually started to mature and has a long way to go in the coming years. Clients are no longer restricted to outsourcing basic services, such as data entry and voice calls. Today clients want to integrate their different systems running in different parts of the world. 

The industry should not underestimate the challenges faced from other offshoring destinations, such as the Philippines, China, Russia and South Africa, and offer cost-effective solutions. Companies will move up the value chain with acquisitions of smaller companies by larger ones, and more captive units will come up.

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