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Outsourcing Fundamentals

Independent guide to Outsourcing: BPO strategy, Service Provider selection, contracting and implementation projects. Assessing and improving your current service.

Exploring BPO > Healthy BPO

The Characteristics of a healthy BPO Service

For both reviewing existing services and setting up a new one, it is useful to consider what "healthy" should look like. I would expect to see the following characteristics in well performing BPO services:

  • Definition: It should be absolutely clear what is included in and excluded from the service. Confusion can occur at different levels. Do the service users understand what should happen? Do the service managers and service providers agree what is included? Is this aligned with operational and contractual documentation?
  • Service Measurement: The services should be measured and the metrics cover the key performance characteristics of the service and, to the extent viable, of the impact on the end to end business process. There should be measurement of the demand and consumption of the service that feeds into the governance and charging frameworks.
  • Performance: The performance should be at least as good as contracted; the service should be satisfying the requirements of the business, and business priorities should be reflected in the behaviour of the service. This includes having the balance between cost, quality and flexibility at a point that satisfies the business.
  • Service Management: There should be clear definition of responsibility for both provider and client. Service performance reports should be informative and timely and feed regular meetings to review the performance of the service, deal with issues, and discuss future demand and service changes. There should be a defined escalation route up both client and provider for issues.
Healthy Relationship
  • Relationship and Culture: There must be trust between the management of client and the service provider, based on bilateral openness on issues and uncertainties. Perception of the service will depend on its nature. Is the target "Silent Running" or "proactive advocates"? Does the service have to deal with inherently unpopular policy? Users of the service should have the perception that the service performs as it should. Even execution of unpopular company policy should be professional and consistent.