We have witnessed the momentous rise of the outsourcing industry and how it reached its pinnacle due to globalization and digitization. More than 68% of businesses actively use outsourcing to improve their process efficiency, reduce costs and increase profitability. The outsourcing industry is steadily on the rise, but the growth of AI, machine learning and natural language processing has certainly threatened the undisputable glory it has enjoyed so far.
Global Changes Accelerating Transformation
Businesses that used to outsource repetitive, mundane and administrative tasks to business process outsourcing (BPO) companies to focus on core areas are proactively shifting their focus from outsourcing to automating iterative tasks. Companies are striving for the sweet balance between building their automation capabilities and finding a BPA (business process automation) service provider to navigate them through the transformation.
It poses a serious challenge for the BPO industry, which depends on providing lower costs of operations through cheaper human labor. With automation, it would eliminate the repetitive costs of hiring human capital, demanding only technology setup investment.
Can automation replace humans? No. It does not matter how intelligent and cognitive-ability-induced automation technologies are introduced, the systematic adoption, day-to-day maintenance and regular upgradations would still require the human touch for proper functioning.
How The BPO Industry Is Faring
BPO companies are realizing that a cheaper workforce and low-cost benefits cannot be their only USPs as in the past. Witnessing the deepened integration of automation in everyday processes, BPO is now transitioning from only human-led processes to BPA, automation frameworks and robotics. In fact, companies are looking at reengineering their processes and inculcating automation as a part of their services to offer hassle-free BPA transformation, adoption and scalability without additional in-house headcount.
While the initial phase of restructuring is already underway, how the BPO companies can transform their core basis, become well-rounded and provide a one-stop solution for all services is the real question. Here are some ways:
• Employing a digital workforce: BPOs must realize how ingraining BPA in their functioning can help them become reliant service providers. Understanding this will also help them develop a robust and scalable framework and stronger foundation for future innovation and adaptation.
• Human force for high-value tasks: Implementing BPA will not take away the jobs but repurpose the work they do. Adopting BPA will help the BPOs transition their employees toward strategic and cognitive organizational activities, freeing them from carrying out repetitive, mundane tasks.
• Streamlined processes and enhanced productivity: Automating processes will ensure faster output through the reduced need for human intervention, facilitating BPOs to benefit from increased productivity.
• High quality and reduced operational costs: Automation allows BPOs to eliminate human errors enabling better output. Reduced human errors, 24×7 TAT and faster delivery will substantially reduce operational costs.
• Better client deals: Meeting SLAs/deadlines and offering all-in-one service packages will improve customer experience, helping BPOs negotiate better deals and build a stronger, loyal client base. It will also reduce dependency on human resources, which have become a major consideration during the Covid-19 lockdowns.
• Room for scalability: BPO companies can scale BPA on-demand and can become super flexible, making them highly functional for agile implementation or volume service needs of the customers.
Six Key Considerations For BPA
As BPA becomes the key differentiator for BPOs to acquire and retain customers, it is critical to understand its role and how it can be seamlessly integrated to offer end-to-end solutions. When designing the automation process adoption road map, BPOs should consider a few crucial steps:
1. Identify implementation areas. The foremost need when implementing BPA is to establish the areas and the processes for automation and develop KPIs to test performance, success and relevance metrics. BPO companies must find ways of intertwining automation with their existing services by understanding which departments can be easily automated to reduce operational costs and efforts. For instance, BPA can be useful in customer service, data migration, forms processing, helpdesk, digital marketing, online research and scheduling.
2. Work toward definitive ROI goals. When setting up an automation process, ROI calculation is crucial as all processes might not lend well to automation, so list not only futuristic but also realistic ROI goals. When estimating returns, the BPO company must consider all variables to set attainable ROI with BPA.
3. Leverage reliable automation technologies. When implementing BPA, evaluate tools, backend systems and costs involved in integration. BPO providers can also go for pre-built automation software/technologies initially and later switch to developing in-house capabilities as they move forward.
4. Have a robust governance structure. A strong backend human management system is as essential as having BPA software in place. Centralizing key areas, decentralizing the other departments, collaborating with IT, defining roles/responsibilities, etc., are vital for a smooth automation process.
5. Start upskilling. Apart from reengineering processes as per the automation needs, BPO companies must work toward upskilling their workforces by offering employees strategic roles that can maximize the company’s efficiency and productivity.
6. Sell BPA as a USP. BPA will become a determinant for a company to choose an outsourcing technological partner and, as a service provider, one must build its competitive edge around automation. The BPO companies will need to assimilate all possible verticals of automation and assure their customers of their competency.
Evaluating Before The Transition To BPA
Businesses looking to reduce the workforce and automating their peripheral activities must fully evaluate the costs and efforts involved in building their automation solutions or outsourcing to a reliable technological partner.
BPOs must identify their path and create personalized frameworks to develop automation processes and a digitized workforce. It is imperative to understand customer journeys, their present/future automation needs, price-relevance and other such metrics before BPA adoption.
Establishing core needs and understanding the operational environment and limitations will help BPOs develop innovative automation solutions and enable smoother transition, ensuring assertive growth through improved customer experiences.