In my experience the biggest surprise for anyone involved in a BPO process is not how challenging it is but how genuinely rewarding it can be for both the service provider and client teams. Members of the new service team get to apply their skills and knowledge in a new business, develop new relationships and enjoy personal growth. In the Hybrid model the client teams also learn new skills, learn new ways to operate, see their business in a new light and make a positive difference to the strength of the company. Together, they create a powerful platform for change.
Let’s look at it first from the service provider’s perspective – people like me, and teams like ours. We’ve been developing our approach for so long now that, while we’ve identified principles of best practice that are pretty much universal, we have at the same time gained some real-world wisdom and a fair degree of humility too. In short, we’re not short-sighted enough to think that one size fits all and that we know best. There is always something to learn, and each new client enables us to add to our experience. An intelligent design and client solution requires a deeper understanding of the client’s business and market place they play in.
It goes further. In finance and accounting outsourcing (FAO) you’ll often find service provider team members no longer make distinctions between themselves and client members of the Shared Services team. Barriers disappear, a new sense of identity is created, and there is a shared commitment to delivering value.
Now let’s look at it from the client team perspective. Here, too, there are many advantages. Advantages – and opportunities. The arrival of the service provider brings with it the potential for the organization to create a hybrid service model, with team members from both sides working together to create something that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The incoming service providers can supply a perspective that’s hard to achieve internally. They also bring a template of structures and methods that can be tailored to circumstances. A case in point is Capgemini’s Global Enterprise Model (GEM), one of the best-known and most highly respected transformation methodologies in business today, comprising seven levers designed to accelerate transformation across a range of key functions including finance and accounting, supply chain, procurement, and human resources.
But service providers don’t just bring people and processes. As part of GEM, clients can access new technologies that bring new capabilities. Existing functions become more efficient and effective adding to the overall value of the business. New ways of working become possible, opening the possibilities of new functions.
Analytics is a great example of the additional value that a BPO provider can bring to improve top-line growth and working capital. Analytic techniques have been growing in size and importance over the past few years and comprise not just technology and tools but centers of expertise in specific areas such as working capital, revenue and sales commissions. CEO business reviews are increasingly including elements of working capital as metrics. This is cascading down to many arms of the enterprise - Operations, Sales, Supply Chain, Procurement, IT, Quality Control – which are being made aware of the impact of their processes and actions on the cash flow of the enterprise. The introduction of new methods and technologies and the integration of systems across the enterprise provide a consolidated view and effective root cause analysis, leading to clear actions for releasing cash to fund expansion and growth.
The freedom to make a difference
The hybrid BPO model can transform individual attitudes as well as entire enterprises. Combining forces and working as one team makes people and organizations alike more efficient, effective and competitive. A great example of this can be found in the recent HfS Research publication ‘WARNER BROS. AND CAPGEMINI CO-DEVELOP TALENT FOR FINANCE AS-A-SERVICE’.
The client finance people to whom I speak often tell me that they have grown personally in their development, been able to apply new skills and make a difference for the business and the people they work with. They’re freed to think and act more strategically. They can drive change. They’re not simply fulfilling a function, but adding real and lasting value.
Together, the team as a whole takes pride in and is respected for its ability to facilitate change and make a difference. Levels of personal satisfaction increase, and many people benefit from new responsibilities, promotions and career paths that simply wouldn’t have been possible in the past.
There’s no need for apprehension or misgivings. There is no ‘us and them.’ Instead, there’s a common sense of purpose and a greater ability to achieve it.