Archive for May, 2009

Selecting a back office service provider – Things to consider

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

Over the last few years, outsourcing of products & services has gained traction with Small & Medium Size Enterprises. As connectivity improved and bandwidth costs came down, outsourcing to low cost regions fast became a norm as apposed to an exception. These days SMEs are using back-end support in wide range of services from simple tasks such as data entry to writing complex business development plans to designing and developing advanced software systems. SMEs are reaping benefits in productivity gains, shorter turnaround times, and lower cost structures and are able to focus more on core business issues. Nonetheless, the task of finding the right provider that understands your business, communicates well, and most importantly responds promptly when things go wrong, is still daunting. Here are a few steps that can help you find the right provider.

Right Size Provider
If you represent a Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) then subscribing to a large back office service provider many not be a wise choice. While size has its benefits, a large provider will be more focused on big clients and if you only require one full-time associate, you will not be on his A or even B list. Mid size service providers are able to provide better value, service & flexibility.

Thoroughly checking a provider’s background, management profile, and customer testimonials are all part of due diligence process. Time spent doing research upfront is time well spent.

Start Small
Run a pilot program with your selected provider before any long-term commitment is made. And while different situations may demand different durations, we strongly recommend that the pilot should be at least two months in duration. The goal is to test the provider on:

1. Overall task(s) quality (consistency, timely delivery etc…)
2. Response time in case of emergency
3. Quality of communication especially under stress
4. How disagreements are handled
5. Documentation/data provided in support of completed work

“Remote Local Office”
Consider your service provider as an extension of your company. Consider them “Your Remote local Office”. Think of the whole process as training a new employee into a new job. Make sure that your remotely located employees have some understanding of the company’s culture and its expectations and know the right people to contact if there is a need. Be open to new ideas that they may bring. Most likely, they have done similar consulting work with other companies and thus can bring fresh ideas and perspectives. Successfully integrating these remotely located employees into your company will pay long term dividends and help you focus more on growing your business.