We should start by addressing the elephant in the room. In this case, it’s a stack of paper weighing 6-8 tonnes (if anyone decided to print it). The same as a fully grown African elephant.
That’s the amount of technical documentation we manage in order to keep the average aeroplane in the sky. It is an astonishing fact and it brings to life the importance of tasks that we are entrusted with in BPO.
With aircraft, the scale of the documentation is considerable and, according to our estimates, can represent 3-6% of the total cost of the product. This is not just a one off: it is 3-6% across the lifecycle of the plane.
It’s not only the volume either. Aviation is a heavily regulated industry – inaccuracies in documentation can result in huge financial costs, and have significant safety ramifications. If ever there was an industry where the documents are mission-critical, this is it.
It is easy to see why, superficially, an aircraft manufacturer would have reservations about outsourcing something so close to their core business activity and expertise. Yet the complexity, scale and responsiveness required make it a natural fit for modern BPO, before we even mention the considerable cost-savings that can be made.
Expect more expertise from BPO
The key here, perhaps, is that this BPO is not the outsourcing of popular imagination. In fact, probably the only thing it shares with the old stereotypes is that the operation is centred in Bangalore. There’s a good reason for this. Bangalore is the centre of India’s aerospace industry. Were you to walk the floor of the delivery centre, you’d see that the people working on the documents are all qualified engineers. So the reason the people editing the aerospace documentation know what they’re doing is that three years ago, they were using documents to fix and prepare the planes themselves.
While we are able to take advantage of this global talent hotspot, the value also comes from the way we apply our own best practice in business processes. I think that our work in this area demonstrates that, with the right partner, you really can take BPO to the very heart of your organisation. Do this and it can become far more than just run-of-the-mill outsourcing. Rather, it becomes a strategic partnership that allows high-tech, high value-manufacturers to save money and deliver better, faster results.
Perhaps we aren’t making elephants fly, but we are conserving them for future generations!