Commentary

Seven tips to choosing the best Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) service provider

When you're trying to globalise, it's essential to ensure you have the right partners by your side. Self-confessed "globaliser" Gonzalo Garcia gives his tips to choosing such a partner.

As a globalizer, I help companies across the world to not only survive, but to excel in their global ambitions and realize their goals in the most seamless possible way. After many years of experience in this sector I believe there are some key factors that determine the success, or failure, of global enterprises. These are:

1. Local knowledge

Tackling a new market outside of your home country is never easy.  Local regulations, extensive compliance requirements and unknown risks can make it overwhelming and complicated. Counting on a BPO service provider with personnel trained in local regulations and years of local market experience is the key to success.

2. Global presence

When dealing with one-country expansion, the above may suffice. However; in my experience most plans don’t end in just one country. It is fair to say that our world is now almost fully globalised and you may find yourself in a situation where a client is asking your company to follow them into several different markets. Often, once established into a new market you find many new opportunities to work in neighbouring countries that take advantage of regional or global economic agreements.

It is in these situations where having a BPO service provider with local knowledge and global presence becomes a key factor to your success. Not having to negotiate service agreements in 15 different countries while expecting the same level of service quality across the world with the knowledge that you are backed by a global player and local expert gives you a value that’s hard to find in today’s globalised economy.

3. Choose a partner that can adapt to you and your IT platforms

I see many companies realizing after selecting their global service provider that their global platforms (HRMS solutions, ERP software’s, etc.) cannot easily integrate with the local service provider’s software. This is a disaster that should be easy to avoid but that still affects many businesses.

I.T. is not a luxury, but a necessity for the success of any global player. Make sure that when you select a global BPO service provider you choose a firm that has the capability to set up interfaces with your global platforms. If you don’t already have interfaces, ensure you select an I.T. provider that has the knowledge and willingness to work with you to make the best decision.

4. Trusted-client references

When you choose a dentist, mechanic, or a babysitter how important are references to you? I am sure that they are extremely important.  In your search for a BPO service provider, references should be equally important.

The company that is going to be handling your books and payroll or your legal compliance should not be afraid to provide you with sound references of clients they have done business with in the past. Do take into account there may be non-disclosure agreements in place that your service provider will need to abide to. Ensure you work with your service provider so they can share this information with you.

5. Understand your business

The first thing I do when I start working with a new client is research them. I like to understand which industry they come from, what their plans and expectations are and how business is done in that industry. I firmly believe it is important to understand your client’s business if you want to have a chance at helping them the way they want, deserve and expect.

When talking to BPO service providers if they ask about your business, where you come from, etc. be honored to know they are taking time to understand you so they can serve you better.

6. Cares about your success

It is now easier than ever to communicate with others but at the same time it is harder than ever to find people and companies that truly care about you. The business world is turning people intro transactions, personal value into a outdated business treat and real conversations into a currency.

Let’s be frank, BPO service providers are in business to make money. But, this is not incompatible with caring for our clients or be willing to go the extra mile  to serve them. If I realize I can’t help you or that you won’t benefit from working with me and that someone else will service your needs better than me, I will let you know and point you in the right direction. Not because I’m a philanthropist; but because in the long run if I’m not the best fit for your needs you will find out and the chance for a long, solid relationship is very slim.

7. It’s not always the money; look at real value

I am very happy to let go of prospective clients that don’t want to do business with me because they say I’m more expensive than X, Y or Z company. This is because I like to work with people and businesses that are smart enough to understand the real value of a business relationship.  Keep in mind, as per the above point, that if I’m still talking to the client it is because I already know that what I can offer them represents a better value that what they can find somewhere else. If it wasn’t, we would not have arrived at this point.

When selecting a BPO service provider, don’t just look at the money. Look at what they bring to the table. Choose experience, best practices, risk management, local knowledge and accountability. All of these factors have an economic value; and as you know cheaper is not always better.

I hope this list will help you make a more educated decision for your business that will lead to a more successful future. I am sure you can come up with many other important factors and at the end of the day we are in it for success as a whole.