Posts Tagged ‘business process optimization’

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by Oliver Schmid  – IAOP :: International Association of Outsourcing Professionals Member


1.) What is outsourcing?

For years, outsourcing has been on the mind of many business people but what one associates with the term outsourcing, might be conceived as something completely different by somebody else. The only common ground is the understanding to give a task or process that used to be performed internally to a third-party service provider for fulfillment.

2.) Types of Outsourcing:

Outsourcing can be as mundane as giving support to somebody else and might be as complex as having business core processes being performed by somebody else.

Typical tasks and/or processes that are outsourced can be:

  • Partial or Total Outsourcing: Some functions or tasks will be outsourced partially while other will be outsourced in its entire. Partial or complete outsourcing can also be seen differently and depends of the viewpoint (Customer / Provider) of the parties involved. It also depends of the overall functionality of the to-be outsourced operations and can often not be determined clearly.
  • There is outsourcing of only operational functions vs. outsourcing of functions, tools and personnel.
  • Business Process Outsourcing (BPO): Interpretation of the meaning of BPO varies and depends again on the point of view. From a customer point, it could be giving away an in-itself-closed-business-process for which the provider carries complete responsibility. From a legal aspect, it is imperative to define all roles and responsibilities in a contractual from and every party involved need to understand their individual responsibilities and the consequences for non-compliance.

3.) Goals

The possible reasons for customers to look more closely at outsourcing to are equally diverse and complex as its possibilities and approaches.

Therefore, only some of the usual motivations for outsourcing will be referred to here:

  • Focusing on core business:
    • An organization wants to concentrate its resources on its core business, and therefore functions that are not part of its core business will be outsourced.
  • Cost savings and optimization:
    • An organization wants to reduce its cost of doing business through outsourcing by creating a flexible cost structure, which is directly related to the performance of its service provider.
  • Purchasing skills:
    • An organization wants to benefit from the increased competence of the provider who considers the to-be outsourced function as its core business. Often, an organization also wants to reduce its performance risk through contractual reassignment of performance risk to its service provider.
  • Flexibility:
    • The provider can often offer the customer more flexibility in the implementation of the delegated services than it would have been possible to a customer with its limited resources and scope for action.

4.) An outsourcing project is divided generally into:

  • the preparatory and planning phase, which includes the Baseline analysis, defining goals and determining the future procedures,
  • the initiation phase with the selection of the provider. and the contract negotiations,
  • the implementation phase with the transfer and the Setup of the facility (or Transition to Operate) and finally the actual
  • the start of the actual operation

Looking at the continuous “life” of an outsourcing initiative the following phases will follow:

  • Review and optimization of relationship and implemented processes
  • At contract expiration either the transfer of all functions to a new service provider or the return of the outsourced functions to the organization (insourcing)

5.) Preparation & Planning:

At the beginning of each outsourcing, a strategic analysis is performed to determine which services or which divisions will be outsourced as well as where the interfaces between the internal and external providers will be in the future.

Following this phase the outsourcing scope will be defined, which will include the functional spectrum. It should definitely be avoided not to make any clear commitments at the beginning, because the scope is the basis for all further tests, the structuring of the outsourcing and the subsequent tender.

The next step would be the internal analysis (assessment) of all areas that are part of the scope:

  • What personnel and which assets are involved?
  • What type of data is available?
  • Current Cost?
  • Which services are currently performed internally and which are already performed externally?
  • To which extend have processes and services already been documented?
  • What is the quality of the currently performed services?
  • Is delivery of services consistent with the according service performance documentation?
  • Are there any legal aspects that need to be considered; e.g. transfer of licenses?
  • Are there any industry-specific aspects to be considered (e.g. in the financial area)?

Oliver Schmid has extensive experience in offshore outsourcing to the Philippines, nearshore outsourcing to Canada and onshore outsourcing of matrix oriented call centers.  He is also versified in outsourcing of data center operations and data center monitoring and support. In addition Oliver Schmid participated in various 3PL and Supply Chain outsourcing initiatives.


Oliver Schmid, EzineArticles.com Basic PLUS Author


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The Structure of Outsourcing by Oliver Schmid is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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Should I outsource?


All about, if outsourcing in general makes sense and what to consider and how to approach outsourcing for it not to become a failure.

Who has not heard horror stories about failed outsourcing initiatives. Many organizations that attempt outsourcing often forget that the key to any successful outsourcing initiative is shared goals and good management.

Often outsourcing is only seen as a way to save money quickly and there for implementations are rushed into without the proper planning and without any detailed documentation of the business processes to be outsourced. As a matter of fact, documenting all relevant business processes as they exist today and the way they should exist in the future with the new outsourcing service provider will allow for a much smoother and painless implementation. Only developing the proper documentation will allow all parties involved to clearly understand all the needs, requirements and challenges of these processes.


Use your in-house know how

It is also important to take responsibility for requirements. Incomplete or misunderstood requirements can make an outsourcing project more expensive as budgeted or even may fail a project completely. Nobody knows your business better than you and the outsourcer probably ever will. It is up to you to gather requirements from your business perspective and explain them to the outsourcer. Only this will assure that your needs and requirements are understood and documented accordingly. The next important step is providing training. Very often training is ignored, but good training is an important key aspect.


Do not blindly rely on your outsourcing partner

In order to show quick saving, poor documentation is often thrown at the outsourcing partner, with the expectation that they would be able to deal with it, and then the partner will be abandoned. Such outsourcing deals will fail for sure. It is important to maintain control. Outsourcing does not mean abandoning and/or losing control. It is wrong to assume that the outsourcing partner knows it all and maybe even more and there for will be able to perform better, faster and cheaper. It is important to have key people that control and maintain relationships with outsourcing partners. These key people will maintain control and guide and govern the outsourcer.


Milestones and KPI

It is also important to implement metrics or key performance indicators (KPI) that are important to your business. Assign people that understand these metrics and are able to perform benchmarking of your outsourcing partner against these KPIís and present them in a readable and understandable format that will allow to draw conclusions and take the necessary steps if required. Last but not least, review your relationship regularly, as you would do with an internal department or internal staff. Make sure to review KPIís, technical infrastructure and operational infrastructure. Combine reviews with clear measures to indicate problems or progress.


Pros + Cons from the employees’ point of view

Horror stories as mentioned above, will often emerge from the employees of the affected companies. Indeed, it may be challenging to work with somebody else from a third party outsourcing company, especially if one has just experienced colleagues getting laid off. But if you look closer, discharging experienced personnel may sometimes results from prior mismanagement, and it is possible that a well-performed outsourcing concept may be the only way to keep things rolling.


Remember if managed correctly, an outsourcing deal will be a win-win situation for both sides.


Oliver Schmid, EzineArticles.com Basic Author
Oliver Schmid has extensive experience in offshore outsourcing to the Philippines, onshore outsourcing to Canada and domestic Outsourcing of matrix oriented call centers.  He is also versified in outsourcing of data center operations and data center monitoring and support. In addition Oliver Schmid participated in various 3PL and Supply Chainoutsourcing initiatives.