A lot of business processes can be outsourced today. Actually with the advancement of technology, the cut-throat competition that calls for increased productivity and reduced costs almost any business process can be outsourced. But before you proceed you need to do quite a bit of research to find out if outsourcing is for you and in particular which business processes you will or need to outsource. You have to analyze the financial implications of undertaking outsourcing, the third party vendor reputation, the time that will be spent negotiating the contract, the relationship you have to build with your third party vendor, how long the project will last, the expected outcomes among other things.
Basically look at every angle then decide. Will you outsource just part of the process or the entire department? What is the potential reaction of your employees? Will they feel threatened in terms of their job security? What are the expected outcomes? What are the risks? Today’s topic is going to analyze the most common outsourced business processes at the end of which hopefully you will be able to decide whether to outsource or not and what tasks exactly to outsource.
- Finance and Accounting Services
Tax preparation and payroll services are the most commonly outsourced services in regards to accounting. They are easy to outsource partly because they have a standardized method that any accounting professional from anywhere in the world is familiar with. They also can always be trained in the accounting process of the client’s country of origin should they not already be familiar with it. They also involve a lot of paperwork which is something that many people dread. A slight mistake in such activities such as an omission or an erroneous inclusion could cause a company anything from a small penalty to a full audit thus the choice to leave it to experts. Tax seasons also mean that there will be times whereby the demand for tax preparation services is high and a company may need to outsource some of the services.
However due to the sensitive nature of the work it is very important that one works with not only competent but also trusted companies. This is because outsourcing financial and accounting services involve sharing documents such as wage records or financials standings of individuals and companies. A breach of such information could have devastating consequences.
- Contact Center Services
These include telemarketing, call center services and help desks. This is normally offered in regards to customer support and managing customer interaction through the phone for both inbound and outbound calls. Call centers deal with both inbound and outbound while telemarketing deals majorly with outbound calls. Contact center services also include customer support offered through social media, emails and instant messaging. Of the three call center services are the most popular services to be outsourced. In the beginning call center services were mostly outsourced due to language requirements.
For example a company in the UK outsources its call center services to a Spanish speaking country like Mexico in order to offer support for its Spanish speaking customer base. Later the cost cutting factor came in and more and more companies chose to outsource considering the fact that recruiting and training customer service personnel is high. Another factor that fuels the outsourcing of this particular service is the fact that there are seasons that call for increased customer support. Such seasons include holiday seasons whereby a company that deals in seasonal products will need to increase its customer service team for a short while to cater to the increased demand.
Before outsourcing ensure that the staff of the company that you are outsourcing to is proficient in the language(s) that your client base is using. Do this and you will make sure to avoid bad customer experience as a result of language barrier. In the past there have been many stories about problems brought on by language barriers in outsourced call centers. If the call center agent does not understand the customer you can bet they will not only be unsupportive but will also frustrate the customer. Instead of being assisted the customer will end up trying to make the agent understand them.
- Virtual Call Centre Services
This is a variant of a call center whereby the operator has a third party vendor host the call center in their own premises. Unlike other call center settings where the operator owns and runs the center the third party vendor is the owner of the call center. The agents are then connected to the center through Voice Over IP. Calls coming in or from the customers are connected by the vendor’s equipment to the agents of the call center operator.
Transcription services entail turning audio files into text. Recorded material is typed out by transcribers and then sent to the clients. Transcription services are useful in almost all industries be it academic, media, legal, medical and other industries. They make storage of records easy as well as analysis and retrieval. Students and researchers might find transcripts useful when they want to analyze the gathered information rather than listening to the recorded material. Lawyers also might want to have a record of all depositions and interviews for review and future reference. As for the medical profession aside from it being a legal requirement to record their sessions doctors often record dictations when doing examinations then have it transcribed and later they can analyze the transcript.
- Healthcare Services
Healthcare services such as medical billing, coding, scanning, diagnostics among other healthcare activities can be outsourced. Considering there are many outsourcing companies willing to do these activities for less without compromising on quality it makes sense to outsource them. However as with the accounting services outsourcing healthcare services calls for deep scrutiny of the BPO company that one is using. This is because medical information is as sensitive as financial information. That being said it is recommended to be very careful of which BPO service provider one uses. It is recommended that you use one with a proven track record.
- Human Resource Services
Human Resource Service outsourcing also known as Recruitment Process Outsourcing is a variation of Business Process Outsourcing. It is a process where companies contract part or all of its recruitment activities to an external party. This external party is then responsible for all the recruiting activities. This has become an increasingly popular outsourcing task since it saves the company time and money required for the recruiting process. It is also easier because most HR outsourcing service providers will have a large pool of candidates to select from. And since they have specialized in recruitment their recruitment process will probably be more thorough than that of the company. They also have invested largely in recruitment tools and networks to smoothen the hiring and selection process.
- Software Development, Testing and Maintenance
Programming of various software programs, testing of new software, apps or computer games fall under the category of outsourced IT products and services. In such the specifications are usually made by the client and then built by the outsourcing vendor. The testing of software also falls under the same. The software is designed and built by a client and then sent to the outsourcing vendor for testing. Testing is also done when improvements are made on the software and the client wants it tested for performance. Maintenance is normally done on already built software and is usually done on a regular basis to ensure everything is running smoothly or to identify weak points.
- Web design
Web design is usually done for companies that do not have an established internal web team or a marketing team for that matter. The outsourcing vendors are made up of teams that have specialized in the field of web design Some of the web designs are custom made as per the requirements of the client while others just go with ready-made templates provided by the vendor. Outsourcing of web design services is still not so common because of the fact that many companies’ websites require considerable innovation and creativity. For this reason many companies choose to have it done in-house so that they can monitor the progress and quality of work done as well as apply changes as the need arises.
Manufacturing is one of most popular outsourced services and has been for a long time. The US is undoubtedly the pioneers and biggest consumers of manufacturing outsourcing services. This was brought on by the fact that hiring and maintaining employees to work in the manufacturing industry became quite expensive. Thus they saw it fit to outsource the services elsewhere at a cheaper price and instead concentrate on the service side of the business.
- Data entry Services
Data entry services revolve around scanning, indexing, order processing and cataloging. It comprises of turning typed or handwritten information that is on paper or in electronic documents like scanned images into electronic information. This makes it easier to store information for future use and easy retrieval as one can organize it as per their needs. It also enables one to store more information on very little space.
- Virtual Assistance Services
This is assistance that is offered via phone, email, instant message or fax. This assistance is provided by Virtual Assistants (VA’s) to mean that these assistants work from virtually anywhere using technology to deliver the services. They have the freedom to work from an office or the comfort of their homes. How it works is that they get their instructions via phone, email or message then proceed to deliver. While many virtual assistants provide administration and secretarial services more and more of them are specializing in different areas. Some specialize in IT support, some on marketing while others specialize in web design depending on their skills, interests and backgrounds.
- Market Research and Development
A lot of companies and organizations are choosing to outsource their market research and development (R&D) projects. This is because R&D projects are quite costly and can take a long time. Additionally companies may need R&D services for only a season thus the frequent recruitment and training of staff as the need arises is proving to be a tedious and expensive. Outsourcing partners and their teams can be trained on different R&D methodologies preferred by the client for their present project needs. A client may choose to work with different outsourcing partners that specialize in different research fields for their different R&D projects or they can work with a one-size-fits-all outsourcing partner for all their projects.
- Legal Services
The need for increased productivity, reduced expenses and turn-around time has made sure that no industry is left out when it comes to outsourcing and the legal one is no exception. Law firms can get legal support services from external partners. The services are don’t exactly mean that the legal service provider takes up the client’s court cases but more of legal document drafting, analysis, review, legal research, patent services as well some litigation support. Small legal firms or organizations benefit the most from such services since they are not in the best of financial positions to hire in-house staff to do it.