Globalization Challenges BPO Providers to Be Ready in a Crisis

by Michael Alfonsi on July 12, 2013

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Change is a constant reality in any business. New products. New technology. New ideas. However, once in a while, there are seismic shifts that completely transform the way business is done. In the past few years, business process outsourcing has become a truly global industry. Strategic partnerships and alliances formed across the world benefit and strengthen businesses in ways previously unimagined. This new landscape has also created unique challenges that businesses should not ignore.

Seemingly unconnected events on the other side of the world can have a profound effect on businesses. Social movements, political unrest, natural disasters can all impact a region. These events can impede business operations. When specialized services are offered in a single region, those services are vulnerable if the region shuts down. It goes beyond regional instability; fraud and cyber attacks can sever the international link between BPO and their client.

Clients may have trouble understanding how circumstances in India could delay projects in the United States. While it’s important for a BPO company  to calibrate expectations for clients, it’s equally important to prepare for inevitable disruptions.

From a recent article, Outsource Magazine suggests the following:

1. “The first requirement in ensuring operational business continuity is in the deployment of an integrated supplier management strategy.”

The key is for organizations to operate in a holistic manner. It should structure an interconnected model so a project isn’t dependent on one office or one person. Or to put it more simply, have a backup to your backup.

2. “Businesses also need to view the BPO service provider and delivery management as an on-going process – not a one-and-done exercise.”

This point is particularly significant. Early assessments made when a contract is first established can become outdated as the working relationship evolves. But outdated processes are most vulnerable when a crisis occurs. Not surprisingly, good communication solves a multitude of problems. If the business and BPO provider maintain a healthy relationship, the two are more able to sidestep trouble down the road.

3. “A ‘dashboard’ approach to assessing the global BPO landscape will arguably be a key component for businesses going forward.”

Organizations need to keep a watch on the global landscape, track the risk areas — in whatever form they may take. The suggested dashboard should already have a response ready. If a BPO provider is located near a coastal region, does it have a contingency plan for hurricanes, power outages, and a place to relocate? Every area is prone to disruption. Business process outsourcing companies cannot anticipate everything that could happen. But if the company assumes an attitude of readiness, it can mitigate the effects of a regional crisis.

Change is constant. The ability to adapt to change makes a BPO provider stand out from the competition.

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