IT has not always received a welcoming invitation to the BPO dinner table. For many of the traditional labor-based BPO deals, IT’s participation was not considered essential to effectuate service delivery and therefore IT input was either not proactively sought or was circumvented by the function procuring the services. With BPO services that are largely provided based on technology, IT’s participation and ownership becomes a critical success factor for an effective implementation and short stabilization period—and the earlier the better.

A client’s IT organization has the technical knowledge to validate functional capabilities, confirm the implementation approach is compatible (e.g., similar definitions of design, build, test), accurately estimate costs and timing, and identify risks and issues that may not be apparent to the business function (e.g., practical implementation constraints such as blackout periods). IT’s insights and direction are also important when determining data privacy and security considerations that need to be built into the solution design and subsequently tested. Without IT’s early involvement in evaluating integration requirements, a client runs the risk of finding out too late that integrating provider systems to client enterprise systems is cost-prohibitive and invalidates the business case.

 

Expect Change

Technology-based solutions are inherently different from more traditional labor-based solutions in that a client uses provider systems, and is therefore forced to adapt processes to align with the capabilities of those systems. While the client’s business rules won’t necessarily change, the specific steps required to execute the business processes certainly will, as many of the formerly manual activities will be automated or efficiency-enhanced. Process flows need to be recreated to incorporate the functionality of the systems and detailed process execution documentation needs to be developed (e.g., desk-level procedures) to reflect screen-shots and mouse-clicks that are new to the client.

As the client never abdicates process ownership or accountability for process results, this means the client resources need to dedicate themselves to develop expertise about the new systems and processes in a short period of time. This results in a nuanced knowledge transfer approach, where there is a bifurcation of responsibility for training: provider resources are responsible for much of the process and system oriented training while client resources are responsible for providing business context and monitoring results while simultaneously learning about the new systems and processes.