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What is business process outsourcing

Definition

What is Business Process Outsourcing BPO?

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is the delegation of business processes to an external service provider to a nearby or farther location. BPO uses various technology-enabled services to optimize the delivery of services.

Some of the usual outsourced business functions are the following.

  • Payroll
  • Accounting
  • Human resources
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Marketing

In the case of content providers, these could mean hiring writers, remote editors, or virtual assistants.

BPO speeds up processes and enhances efficiency. Companies that outsource some of their business processes use their time on core services and competencies.

With this shift in focus, companies improve their current processes which may result in improved customer satisfaction. BPO helps companies divert their resources to more critical business strategies.

Often, companies find it impractical to hire a full-time position in-house because of the cost associated with doing so. Outsourcing services can also help them save costs and resources in hiring suitable employees.

The definition of BPO outsourcing

In business process outsourcing, a company delegates their services to a service provider. It can be a local firm, nearshore, or offshore company.

Upon reaching an agreement, the service provider will then set up a team for their client. They will shoulder the costs and resources needed, including the office space, workplaces, connection, cloud storage, and IT infrastructure.

The providers are responsible for tracking the staff’s performance and progress. The clients, meanwhile, are responsible for providing the tasks, processes, and KPIs needed for their operation.

In some instances, they are also allowed to incorporate their culture and values to their team and absorb them as a part of their company.

What is BPO? How does Business Process Outsourcing work?

Business process outsourcing happens when a business taps a third-party service provider to operate some of its internal processes. Such ‘processes’ include customer service, accounting and finance, or sales.

It is different from hiring an agency to do specific tasks, as the outsourcing provider (BPO) is more concerned with the ongoing production of labour-intensive tasks, instead of the higher-level strategy and guidance.

Now, BPO has broadened and is more akin to staff augmentation, or staff leasing.

What are the benefits of business process outsourcing?

There are many benefits to outsourcing, as well as some downsides and risks. Outsourcing powerhouses like the Philippines and India produce high-quality talents at a lower rate due to their low operational costs and full government support.

Since outsourcing companies hire and produce experts in the field, clients can assure better results in their operations – whether in customer service, accounting, or marketing. Their staffs are trained to ensure that their clients achieve the outcome they expect.

Companies are able to scale their staff depending on the demand and availability of their tasks. This also helps them improve their operations by letting their service providers contribute in streamlining their processes.

Outsourcing poses more growth opportunities for businesses of all shapes and sizes. While there is still drawbacks to this practice, it is safe to say that its advantages outweigh its risks. 

To explain it further, below we have outlined the top benefits of outsourcing business processes: 

Cost savings

Companies can enjoy savings of up to 70% by leveraging the salaries and costs in countries such as the Philippines and India.

Global market

Businesses get to access a bigger pool of talent that can fit their requirements. They can have better options in hiring employees since they are not limited to what is available in their home countries.

Global presence

At the same time, business process outsourcing opens clients to global trade opportunities. They can establish their global presence and expand more easily to other locations since they already have operations in the area.

Flexible workforce

BPO reduces internal local compliance obligations including providing additional office spaces to employees. Instead, organizations can hold their business operations on a remote setup, most usually having their teams in an office provided by the BPO firm.

Leverage skill

Companies cannot always do everything on their own. BPO enables them to leverage the skills of other specialist companies on more complex tasks such as accounting and IT.

Focus

Lastly, BPO enables organizations to focus on their core business functions. This is since most of their non-core business operations are done with the help of a reliable service provider.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)

Business process outsourcing examples

The BPO sector is a vast industry, generating over $200bn annually, and employing millions of people worldwide.

As stated in the Market Analysis Report, the global business process outsourcing market reached over USD 245.9 billion in 2021. Thus, it is foreseen to acquire a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.1% this year, 2022 to 2030. 

The proliferation of the global BPO sector is utterly driven by several key factors that organizations take full advantage of: 

  • Improved efficiency and agility
  • Focus on core competencies
  • Decreased operational costs
  • Adapt to the ever changing business dynamics

In general, when we speak of outsourcing, it always entails contracting out parts of business processes to an external provider either domestically or offshore. 

BPO can be seen in different forms and contexts, from hiring single staff to getting an offshore team.

Here we have listed some of the examples of business process outsourcing:

Big enterprise

Facebook and Uber outsource many of their operational functions, including content moderation for Facebook, and customer service for Uber

Medium-size businesses

A medium business with 50-500 staff might outsource the labour-intensive accounting and finance functions to a team in the Philippines.

Small business and entrepreneur

It is common for small business owners to have a Virtual Assistant (VA) working for them full time and remotely from the Philippines.

What are the different types of BPO?

Outsourcing can be executed in different forms, depending on the outsourcer’s needs. Truth is, not everyone are fully aware, and has an in-depth grasp of the BPO sector. 

For most people, BPO can simply mean farming out business processes to third parties located in another country, but this is just one type of BPO. 

As for businesses, it is always vital to be familiar with the various classifications and functions of BPOs. This way, they are able to opt for a business process outsourcing provider that is best suited for their type of requirements and industry. 

More importantly, outsourcing is not a one size fits all strategic approach, this is why it is not enough just know what outsourcing is and how it works. 

There are several types of BPOs that businesses can choose from. The type of business process outsourcing can be characterized by their specialization, location, and size.

What are the different types of BPO?
Generalist or specialist BPOs

Business process outsourcing is in the human resources and professional services sector. However, their services extend across all industries. The majority of BPOs are generalists, in that they offer a full range of professional services.

Meanwhile, some specialize in certain verticals such as the following.

Legal process outsourcing

Legal process outsourcing deals more with delegating legal processes and compliances to legal firms in another area.

Knowledge process outsourcing

Meanwhile, knowledge process outsourcing enables companies to outsource knowledge-related work including research and development, innovation, and creatives.

Location

Business process outsourcing typically operates from developing nations such as the Philippines, India, and Colombia. They typically have cheaper cost-of-living and bigger populations. Different locations offer different advantages.

Size of BPO

The bigger BPOs employ more than 250,000 people. They are huge, global operations. Medium-sized BPOs range from 500-5,000 staff and offer a full range of services. The smaller BPOs might have 1-500 people.

Offshore

Offshore outsourcing refers to the process of delegating a part of operations or a department to an offshore country.

To maximize profitability and efficiency, companies choose to outsource to a different region or time zone. India, the Philippines, and South Africa are some of the popular countries known for offshore outsourcing services.

Onshore

Onshore outsourcing or onshoring, meanwhile, is preferred by firms looking to delegate their services within their country.

Onshoring does not offer much savings as that of offshoring or nearshoring. However, clients prefer this as a way to maintain their branding and satisfy their local markets.

Nearshore

Lastly, nearshore outsourcing is preferred by companies that do not want the hassles of time zone and cultural differences in offshoring but still want to get the best out of their delegated services.

Through nearshoring, businesses can collaborate with their teams located in a nearby country. This gives them the opportunity to maintain their local compliance and save on costs since most nearshore locations are cheaper than their onshore counterparts. 

Functions of business process outsourcing

Collectively, business process outsourcing provides any kind of staffing solution. Common functions of BPO include:

Finance and accounting

Outsourced finance and accounting services help businesses manage their books, monitor cash flow, and keep up with corporate income tax compliances without fuss.

Healthcare

Healthcare outsourcing, meanwhile, organizes various back- and front-end functions done for the healthcare and insurance industries.

Creative and content

Creative services outsourcing covers everything from post-production of Hollywood movies to newspaper and website content.

Tech, IT and development

IT outsourcing involves delegating network management, web and app development, and cybersecurity protection to IT firms in different countries.

Sales & customer support

Some BPO providers specialize in sales and customer support for pre- and post-sales transactions. This helps companies meet the expectations and demands of their customers, keeping them satisfied even after their purchase.

Marketing

BPOs and marketing firms can help in ongoing marketing, communication and branding activities for their clients. This helps them attract more suitable leads in a cost-efficient way.

Talent and HR

Businesses can delegate HR, recruitment and compliance to professional employer organizations to maximize recruitment and workforce management.

Administration

Generalist BPOs help organizations accomplish general business administration and operational activities. This includes data entry, appointment setting, and other related functions.

Supply chain management

Lastly, e-commerce stores benefit from outsourcing supply chain management to manage warehouse and delivery processes.

Functions of business process outsourcing

Top BPO companies in the world’s top outsourcing hubs

A wide range of business process outsourcing companies in different parts of the world provide utmost services to their Western and local clients. Many of them even earned recognition by award-giving bodies due to their performance in both their roles and their level of care for the employees.

Check out the top BPO companies in several outsourcing destinations below.

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) services

With the rise of new offshore outsourcing locations, companies can have better options in terms of location and services they can delegate. However, finding a suitable BPO company can be a daunting task to be done on their own.

Good thing advisory services such as Outsource Accelerator is there to help them.

Outsource Accelerator is the most trusted source for independent information & advisory for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). We have over 5,000 articles, 350+ podcast episodes, and a comprehensive directory with 2,500+ BPOs from different locations.

Outsource Accelerator’s offerings make it easier for clients to learn about, and engage with, business process outsourcing companies worldwide.

Want to learn more about outsourcing? Check out the Inside Outsourcing book as well as the Inside Outsourcing book review today!

Outsourcing FAQ

What is a BPO company?

An outsourcing company handles various supporting processes of contracting companies. These supporting processes are activities that are not central to the company’s business but cannot be done away with. Examples include payroll, customer service, accounting, IT, etc.

A great outsourcing company is someone that has proven expertise in the process to be outsourced, that has access to resources and technology not otherwise available to the contracting company.

For a contracting company to fully leverage the advantage of outsourcing, it is preferable that the outsourcing company will have it’s own key performance indicators to help drive innovation and growth for the contracting company.

BPO companies in the Philippines

Outsourcing evolved a lot during the past decade, it is no longer all about customer service outsourcing. Nowadays, it is very common to outsource other functions such as finance & accounting, lead generation, software development or digital marketing.

Outsourcing is also applicable to any industry and any business size, as long as the job can be done in front of a computer, then it can be outsourced.

Outsource Accelerator’s directory lists over 700+ outsourcing companies in the Philippines. All of these are carefully selected for innovation, expertise, and technology that will benefit our clients. We also provide you with guidance on how to maximize the potential that such expertise gives you in growing your business.

What is a BPO example?

Some of the well-known companies have been outsourcing their business processes to improve their services and reach their customers worldwide. For instance, Nike outsources product manufacturing to several countries in Asia, including China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Apple also outsources its production to China for global distribution.

One of Alibaba’s secrets to success, meanwhile, is software development outsourcing. They hired developers in the US to create and maintain the website and its system. Its Western counterpart, Amazon, also geared up in outsourcing. To maintain their customer-first outlook, the company outsources its customer service and supply chain management to countries such as India and the Philippines. 

What is BPO in a call center?

A BPO is usually hired by a company to provide customer service, technical support, or lead generation assistance. Depending on the service provider, clients can customize their services, whether they choose a shared or dedicated team, and the volume of calls they receive or make each month. 

Call centers usually do voice and non-voice tasks, such as email response, data encoding, and doing market surveys. BPOs do these, along with a wider range of services such as contact center and helpdesk support. 

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About OA

Outsource Accelerator is the trusted source of independent information, advisory and expert implementation of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO).

The #1 outsourcing authority

Outsource Accelerator offers the world’s leading aggregator marketplace for outsourcing. It specifically provides the conduit between world-leading outsourcing suppliers and the businesses – clients – across the globe.

The Outsource Accelerator website has over 5,000 articles, 350+ podcast episodes, and a comprehensive directory with 3,000+ BPO companies… all designed to make it easier for clients to learn about – and engage with – outsourcing.

About Derek Gallimore

Derek Gallimore has been in business for 20 years, outsourcing for over eight years, and has been living in Manila (the heart of global outsourcing) since 2014. Derek is the founder and CEO of Outsource Accelerator, and is regarded as a leading expert on all things outsourcing.