An objective analysis of the global business process outsourcing industry and its participants.
- Executive Summary
- Purpose & Utility of the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index
- Accessing the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index
- The OA500 & The Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index
- Assessing and Ranking BPOs
- Limitations of the Index
- Company Size and Revenue
- Online Prominence and Reputation
- Employer Brand and Practices
- Exclusion of Variable Subjective Factors
Work and employment models are constantly evolving, driven largely by technology, globalization, and increasingly distributed workforces. This rapidly changing global economic environment has been a key driver in the meteoric rise of business process outsourcing (BPO) in recent years. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Meta are just some of the major multinational enterprises that now work with BPO providers. Outsourcing – in some form – has become a default for large enterprises – and is slowly, but certainly – becoming the norm for Small and Mid-size Enterprises (SMEs) globally.
The recent surge in growth of the BPO market was driven by the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need for more adaptable business models that came with it. Outsourcing partners have proven invaluable for businesses, large and small, across every industry, in times when their clients have faced unpredictable conditions and unprecedented economic pressures.
The outsourcing market is a broad sector offering many different business models. The outsourcing moniker broadly covers a diverse range of services, which are almost more different than they are similar. Call centers, BPO, Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO), offshore staffing, staff augmentation, virtual teams, online workers, freelancers, and virtual assistants (VA) all fit together under the same loosely applicable “outsourcing” moniker.
The single thread running through all service models is that they offer easy access to global employment – which leverages cheaper salaries and large talent pools.
The business benefits of outsourcing are, without a doubt, but the market can be a tricky one to navigate. Over time – sometimes not much time either – even the largest ‘first-generation’ BPOs can regress, leaving a vacuum in the market for innovative new players to fill.
As the outsourcing market matures, we find that the top 10 players collectively generate 60% of the BPO market revenue1. However, there is a long tail of many thousands of outsourcing firms globally that provide high-quality services, specialization, diversification, and customization – something that the bigger BPOs cannot. This longtail consists of companies with hundreds of thousands of employees to small boutique agencies with only a few dozen staff – catering to niche markets and offering a broad spectrum of pricing and business models.
While the growing numbers paint a positive picture of the BPO industry at large, entering into an outsourcing partnership remains fraught with challenges – characterized by uncertainty, opacity, and distance. The unfamiliar nature of the market clearly highlights the need for an objective way to rank and compare the major players and, in doing so, help businesses navigate it.
In pursuit of this goal, Outsource Accelerator has developed a methodology for aggregating, researching, and assessing BPOs. This involved researching the entire market to identify a spectrum of relevant and publicly available metadata points, which are visible across a sufficient number of firms. Finally, they created objective criteria upon which to assess and compare BPOs. The result is the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index – and the OA500.
NOTE: Check out the full OA500 report here.
Purpose & Utility of the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index
The purpose of the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index is to objectively analyze a set of disparate outsourcing firms that are fundamentally opaque to develop a meaningful method of tracking progress, cross-company comparison – and ranking.
The Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index provides the first comprehensive objective analysis of all outsourcing firms globally and is a strong indicator for a firm’s prominence.
The Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index will gain more relevance over time as the longitudinal progress of each firm develops, and is tracked, over time. Both data collection and contribution will continue to improve over time – in terms of granularity, reliability, and universality.
Accessing the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index
The full Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index can be found at:
NOTE: Check out the full OA500 report here.
The OA500 & The Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index
The Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index collates and assesses all known outsourcing firms globally, whereas The OA500 focuses specifically on the top 500 outsourcing firms.
The methodology for the two Indexes is identical. However, the top 500 firms generally have significantly more metadata visibility compared to the lower-ranked BPOs – it is a self-perpetuating trend. More prominent companies have higher visibility and broader footprint by definition. As a result, the accuracy and fidelity of the OA500 participants is higher and more reliable.
Due to the more complete collection of data for the OA500, better analysis can be done of these companies. The OA500 constituents will evolve over time as each company, and the industry develops.
1. Assessing & Ranking BPOs
To create the index, Outsource Accelerator aggregated, researched, and annotated over 2,500 BPOs worldwide and developed a scoring and weighting methodology to rank BPOs by their prominence.
The research leveraged the collection of data from around 20 publicly available metadata points, many of which themselves collate a multitude of other data points. This means of data collection is important because many BPOs are completely opaque with regard to their internal metrics.
BPOs are hard to measure and thus compare. This is because (i) they are mostly privately held companies, and so there is little if any public disclosure of internal performance metrics; and (ii) the international nature of BPOs means that a complex web of incorporations across numerous – mostly emerging markets – is more the rule, rather than the exception.
Despite this, there are still some publicly available metadata points, which can be taken as reliable measures of how a company interacts with the world. Just as a radar can pick up a plane flying in the air, the metadata’s passive detection can help identify the size, trajectory, and prominence of outsourcing firms. The company might not even be aware that they are sending out this information, but it is inevitable and largely inescapable, especially as they become more prominent.
In isolation, each metadata point serves as a viable measure of one facet of a company. For example, the Domain Authority (DA) of a company’s website is a valuable metric for evaluating its prominence on the Web. However, whilst DA itself is a single metric, the final number is a culmination of numerous data points, such as the age of the website, traffic, and the total number of backlinks linking to it. Similarly, even though a company may not publish metrics quantifying its market footprint, or the quality of its services, many established third parties do so to a very capable standard. By drawing on these metadata points, it is possible to build a highly accurate index, particularly in the case of larger BPOs.
Aggregating these data points into a unified ranking system is also important for increasing its accuracy and value to both enterprises looking to outsource and to BPOs themselves. While one metadata point means little in isolation, a collection of metadata points pertaining to different facets of a company piece together to provide a holistic analysis of the company.
Using just one data point to assess a BPO’s prominence is likely to be misleading or erroneous. Domain authority can, for example, be manipulated by factors such as buying backlinks and negative search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns. However, by using multiple metadata points to affirm prominence and quality, it is possible to build a highly accurate and powerful alternative to having access to actual internal company data. In fact, the aggregation of publicly available metadata might be more objective – and accurate – than the company’s own internal analysis.
The measures used to build and maintain the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index broadly fall into two primary categories – (i) footprint and (ii) quality. A company’s footprint refers to public visibility. The most established BPOs naturally generate a very high footprint score, since any reasonable business will be fully visible in the major search engines, social networks, and online directories. The quality of a company is, of course, more complicated to quantify. However, using metadata points like domain authority, site traffic, employee reviews, LinkedIn engagement, and third-party analysis, it is possible to get a reasonable picture of a company’s reputation.
That being said, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index should not be taken to imply the quality of capability in itself. After all, smaller BPOs might not be particularly prominent, but they may be far more capable of addressing the needs of smaller businesses than a major global service provider. There are also individual industries, verticals, and specializations to consider. For example, many of the world’s largest BPOs offer a complete range of professional services, while smaller firms may specialize in certain areas, such as payroll and accounting.
Instead, the index serves as a valuable starting point for businesses looking to begin or advance their outsourcing journeys, as well as BPOs themselves wanting to learn how they can increase their market prominence.
The mission of the Index is to collect as many relevant and reliable metadata points as possible – which is easier said than done. For a metadata point to be valid, it must first be available for at least the vast majority of the firms being analyzed. A metadata point might be very insightful, but if it is only available for a small number of the sample BPOs, then it cannot be included.
One of the study’s primary ambitions is to objectively analyze a large sample of companies that are otherwise relatively private and opaque. If you were to limit the analysis to only companies that offer good visibility, then it would not be a fair, insightful, or representative study of the industry as a whole. For example, publicly traded outsourcing firms have a wealth of publicly available information and ready-made analysis. If you only included these public companies with visible metrics, then the analysis might be more accurate for the small number of companies. However, they account for only a tiny fraction of the overall industry (1%), and they are far from representative, so the analysis would be pointless.
The interpretation of the score might be limited on an individual level – but it is a very valuable barometer when comparing the prominence across a set of firms. Also, as time progresses, future Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index updates will track the longitudinal evolution of each company in comparison to its own prior performance.
Limitations of the Index
The Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index uses multiple metadata points to assess visibility, size, quality, and reliability. In aggregate, these aspects infer overall Prominence.
However, prominence does not determine fit to a particular client, vertical, or need. A limitation of the Index is that it cannot assist in interpreting the subjective attributes of a company.
The prominence index is NOT just the analysis of size (and consequential impact). There are numerous other metadata points that aggregate to confer quality and reliability – however, inevitably, most big firms also have strong markers for these aspects.
For example, if you need an accounting specialist, a highly prominent firm focusing on customer service will not be a good partner. Equally, if a small business needs an accountant, then the world’s largest accounting firm is most likely not the best solution. Big companies naturally generate a bigger, deeper footprint – but bigger is most certainly not better in most situations. A company with 500,000 staff would simply not entertain a small client requiring only 1-2 staff – and even if they did, the fit would be far from optimal.
Equally, a client requiring specific medical sector solutions might be best served by a firm specializing in those services, or possibly a generalist firm could do a better job. And the staffing needs of a small startup are particularly unsuited to the services offered by the largest BPOs. As such, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index is not particularly useful in assessing the suitability of specific requirements. In contrast, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index is an excellent tool for assessing the prominence of BPOs and comparing one to another.
The index cannot infer individual suitability or pass judgment on specific verticals, pricing models, or service delivery structures. As mentioned above, outsourcing is a broad umbrella term covering a diverse range of offshore models – including virtual assistants, call centers, BPOs, and KPOs. These different specializations are all contained within the index and ranked alongside each other – however, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index does not attempt to assess or compare the various business models objectively. There is no objective way to assess whether the business model of a generalist is better than a specialist, a KPO is better than a call center, or an agency is better than a Virtual Assistant company. These assessments are beyond the scope of the index.
Due to the fact that data collection is based on broadly available metadata, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index does not offer 100% accuracy for individual firms. However, it is the best possible objective analysis of private and public global outsourcing companies across multiple jurisdictions.
See the following section for more on this topic: 5. Exclusion of Variable Subjective Factors”
2. Company Size & Revenue
It is common practice to compare businesses by size and revenue, especially when it comes to evaluating potential BPO partnerships for big enterprises. After all, enterprises and scaleups need to ensure they will not outgrow their BPO partners too quickly. The desire to work with companies from well-established and stable firms is also widespread.
That being said, the largest BPO, in most cases, is not the best fit for a given organization. Large BPOs generally cater exclusively to large global enterprises and have minimum contractual requirements that place them squarely beyond the scope of smaller businesses. By contrast, a small startup looking to outsource a single operation will likely be better off contracting out to a specialized boutique BPO.
Using a simple analogy, the ‘best plumber’ for someone’s needs is most likely not the world’s largest plumbing company. It is more likely that the ‘best plumber’ is one that is locally based and knowledgeable of your area and type of plumbing needs. Similarly, most businesses do not use the world’s biggest law firms, accounting practices, or marketing agencies. Typically the ‘best fit’ would be a firm that is of commensurate size, is knowledgeable in your specific industry, niche, or needs, and has an appropriate price point and billing structure.
As such, a large company’s size, revenue, and in some respects, prominence are not relevant when determining a specific fit for an individual’s specific needs. It is only true that the world’s largest companies might want to seek out their world’s largest BPO firms.
Unfortunately, assessing an organization’s size and revenue is the simplest way to evaluate its prominence. While the size of a company is, in most cases, uncorrelated to ‘fit,’ it is still a powerful indicator that cannot be ignored. However, it is not always easy to accurately determine these metrics from the company’s published data, especially in private companies. In many jurisdictions, such as the United States, a private company is not legally obliged to publish its financials publicly. The European Union, by contrast, requires all companies – public or private – to disclose their balance sheets, profit-and-loss accounts, and annual reports.
Given the global nature of the BPO market and the fact that it spans dozens of jurisdictions, many of which include emerging markets, getting an accurate picture of a company’s size and revenue requires drawing from several data and metadata points. This is generally not necessary in the case of public companies, which are obliged to publish their annual financials, hence why public companies get a higher prominence score in the index.
Many of the world’s largest – and most prominent – BPOs are public companies, but there are numerous exceptions. To determine the size and revenue of private companies, it is necessary to refer to other data sources. Again, however, getting an accurate picture requires several sources. For example, the number of employees a company has on LinkedIn is, by itself, just a rough indicator of its size and, by extension, its revenue. Since anyone on the network can claim to work for a given company, it is hardly an accurate indicator in isolation. To increase the accuracy of a company’s size and revenue rating, it is important to refer to capable sources like Crunchbase and Zoom Info, which estimate revenue based on their own undisclosed data points.
While they do not necessarily translate into revenue, especially when taken in isolation, there are numerous other data points that, combined, provide an accurate picture of a company’s size. These include, but are not limited to, metrics like site traffic, the number of locations served, the number of global offices, and the number of online reviews.
The business process outsourcing market is expected to reach a global value of $577 billion by 2030, up from $268 billion in 2021. This represents a CAGR of approximately 10%.
– Precedence Research2
3. Online Prominence & Reputation
While online prominence and brand reputation are certainly not interchangeable, the metrics that qualify or quantify one do tend to match the other. For example, a high amount of website traffic or a high domain authority does tend to point to a strong and stable reputation, although there are exceptions. Again, this is why it is necessary to draw from multiple metadata points to gain a reasonable indication of a BPO’s quality.
For enterprises looking to advance their outsourcing programs, online prominence and brand reputation are important considerations. Publicly traded global enterprises, for example, need to be reasonably transparent when it comes to their commercial relationships, and all companies must perform adequate due diligence to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations of the jurisdictions they operate under.
The simplest measure of a company’s online prominence is its domain authority (DA). Every brand wants to outrank its competitors in the search results, so the higher the DA, the better. A DA score ranges from one to 100, with the most prominent websites having a DA of 100, while a typical score for an established mid-sized business is around 40 to 50. The ranking system was developed by Moz, one of the world’s leading SEO firms. While it is not used as a ranking system by the major search engines themselves, a higher DA indicates a higher chance of ranking highly in the search results.
A company’s DA is important to consider because the search providers, including Google, are very opaque when it comes to their algorithmic ranking factors. However, DA draws from many data points, such as the total number of links to a website and the DA of the websites with said links. Just as Google regularly updates and refines its own ranking factors, Moz updates its DA ranking system so that it more closely aligns with how the search engines order their results. Also, like Google, Moz uses many undisclosed data points, but it is a known authority in the space and, as such, is a fairly solid indicator of a brand’s online presence.
NOTE: Check out the OA500 interactive directory here.
That being said, like many online prominence metrics, DA can be manipulated by dishonest ‘marketing’ practices. However, Google and the likes invest heavily to limit any deceptive gaming of the system. Another limitation of DA is that the metric applies to every website in existence spanning every country and industry globally. A typical newspaper website is likely to outperform a typical BPO website – due to the divergent nature of the different business models. However, two BPOs should, in theory, be relatively aligned.
So it is conclusive that while a company’s website DA, and traffic analysis, are useful indicators, they cannot be taken in isolation when building an accurate index. Fortunately, there are many other publicly available metadata points that help to triangulate a company’s prominence, quality, and trust.
For a more accurate picture of a company’s online prominence and, by extension, its reputation, it is important to consider their visibility across as many public directories, indexes, databases, and communities as possible. This is why the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index also considers metadata from Crunchbase, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Zoom Info, and others. In aggregate, the data combine to form a unique digital footprint which is a proxy for its reputation.
LinkedIn is a prominent business directory and community, which by now captures rudimentary data on almost any business worth knowing. If a company is not visible on LinkedIn, then that alone is a strong, irrefutable indicator of a company’s prominence. However, in isolation, it is flawed. Crunchbase is one of the world’s leading business directories but focuses more on younger tech-led companies – and also has a ranking system of its own. Its coverage is significantly more limited. ZoomInfo, by contrast, specializes entirely in B2B data, making it an even more relevant reference for the BPO industry. Glassdoor is another useful tool that has reasonable coverage and offers grassroots insight into a firm’s employment practices. From one simple metric one can infer not only (i) a company’s quality (how high the score is), but also (ii) a company’s visibility (i.e. is it in Glassdoor or not), and (iii) a company’s size (how many reviews there are).
Together, these metadata points serve as a highly accurate indicator of a company’s online prominence and public perception. Moreover, it is a highly capable proxy for estimating a company’s revenue, headcount, and other important metrics.
Additional metadata points will be added when discovered if they are relevant, insightful and broadly applicable.
68% of companies in the United States now delegate services to BPOs, followed by around 48% in the UK.3
– Outsource Accelerator
4. Employer Brand & Practices
The BPO market continues to play an instrumental role in economic growth and the creation of new jobs, particularly in emerging economies. On the other hand, offshore outsourcing is often falsely associated with unfair wages and poor working conditions. For enterprises seeking to advance their outsourcing programs, this presents a significant risk to their brand reputations. Indeed, customers in both the B2C and B2B sectors are becoming increasingly wary of the reputations of the companies they do business with and their broader supply chains.
A desire to reduce operational costs remains the most common reason for a client to explore outsourcing, despite many other potential benefits, such as increased operational agility, scalability, and easy access to vast pools of talent. Nonetheless, the predominant focus on cost reduction often aligns with the widespread belief among critics that BPOs can lead to unethical business practices abroad and a lack of respect for necessary quality standards of products and business processes. Naturally, partnering with a BPO that has a poor track record in these respects can and will reflect badly on the company doing the outsourcing. In the worst-case scenarios, it can even lead to legal and regulatory scrutiny. While BPO bad actors are a very small minority, it is important for the industry to collectively do what it can to elevate those that abide by, and optimize for, good practices and discourage or eradicate those that do not.
In light of these concerns, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index offers a vital, albeit limited, insight into giving prominence to BPOs that have a decent employer brand and are known to provide working conditions that align with the standards and expectations set forth by governments and regulatory bodies. The easiest way to achieve this is by drawing from data points that help quantify and qualify a company’s employer brand.
Although it stands to reason that a company with many thousands of employees should have reasonable working conditions, headcount alone is only a very approximate indicator by itself. In fact, the perception employees have of a company often has nothing to do with its size or prominence.
Employer’s brand and practices are partially qualified by the company’s rating on Glassdoor, a multinational subsidiary that allows current and former employees to anonymously review their employers. A high rating on Glassdoor is a fairly solid indicator of the quality of a company’s employer brand, while a low rating points to low employee engagement and job satisfaction. BPOs with poor employer brands are naturally less likely to be high up on the prominence list, and even if they are, they are unlikely to remain there for long unless they radically change their employment practices. In short, “how you do anything is how you do everything.”
While a useful indicator of a company’s employer brand in the countries it serves, it is important to remember that Glassdoor is not widely used in some popular offshore outsourcing locations. For example, it does not offer localized services for leading locations like Bulgaria, Poland, South Africa, or the Philippines, thus making it a less useful data point for BPOs located in those countries. Moreover, BPOs with smaller headcounts are unlikely to have many reviews on Glassdoor at all – good or bad. A high prominence rating generally points to a stronger employer brand, but for small BPOs, it is necessary to carry out a more targeted investigation and analysis. Other community-centric portals, such as LinkedIn, Reddit, and Facebook, as well as general media, can also assist in shining a light on employment practices.
Many BPOs are finding it increasingly difficult to fill roles, with attrition rates high across the board, reaching 40% in the Philippines.4
5. Exclusion of Variable Subjective Factors
The primary goal of the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index is to serve as a framework for objectively analyzing and ranking major outsourcing providers based on accurate, current, relevant, and publicly available metadata points. This also means the list will be able to track the evolution of BPOs, thereby serving as a starting point for businesses looking for a better way to navigate this increasingly complex market. However, to maintain the focus on this goal, it is also necessary to exclude certain qualitative data, especially in cases where the data is not universally available or is widely lacking in authenticity or relevance. In particular, the index does not take into consideration the country of incorporation or industry specializations.
Geographical location, although an important consideration when entering into an outsourcing relationship, is beyond the scope of the index. Furthermore, there are already several annual reports and indexes evaluating offshore location capability and confidence.
That being said, the relevance of a certain geographical location is actually very hard to analyze and, in the case of the largest BPOs, mostly irrelevant. Outsourcing firms by their nature are international and most large – and many small BPOs – have offices in multiple countries, serving numerous markets around the world. It would not be unusual to have a ‘US company’, that is headquartered in Hong Kong, with a mainly Indian executive team, running multiple offices containing thousands of staff across numerous countries and continents.
So, in general, the country in which the company is actually incorporated is largely unimportant. More commonly, many BPOs are headquartered in the US but may have most of their employees located in India or the Philippines. They may still technically be regarded as US companies but, to all intents and purposes, they are outsourcing firms based offshore. Equally, many of the world’s largest BPOs originate from and are headquartered in India but have staff spread across APAC, LatAm, EMEA, and beyond.
Smaller BPOs, by contrast, tend to be associated with one country, in which case its offshore location confidence is an important measure to consider. After all, outsourcing to a company that operates exclusively in a politically or economically unstable country can be very risky. However, there is no universal ‘best country,’ there is only ‘best fit,’ and this is particular to the needs of each client.
Which country (or countries) a BPO operates in is important in cases where companies need access to a particular language. For example, a company outsourcing its marketing or call center operations to reach Spanish-speaking audiences might want to consider a BPO in Columbia, which not only addresses the language need but also enjoys high offshore location confidence. While the Philippines might be an excellent choice for call centers generally, they are not a good candidate for Spanish language proficiency. Some countries can be significantly cheaper than others, but quality and ease-of-doing-business often correlate with price. India has a strong reputation for mathematics and less of a reputation for communications. Russia and Eastern Europe are developing reputations for software engineers, but they may be more expensive, and language barriers could be heightened. Emerging outsourcing markets like Ethiopia and Uzbekistan might be cheaper, but their industry is less developed, and the talent pools are more limited. So the choice of destination really is specific to the needs of a client and needs to be assessed separately to the BPOs prominence.
Insofar as specializations are concerned, some of the most commonly outsourced processes are payroll and accounting, administration, customer support, marketing, and IT management and services. These commodity processes are broadly similar among all enterprises, regardless of their industries, making them suitable candidates for BPOs. The largest BPOs often provide all these services, while smaller ones might specialize in just one or two. That said, companies looking to outsource must carefully evaluate BPO specializations along with any dependencies or unique regulatory requirements that apply to them. For example, a healthcare provider based in the US generally cannot outsource certain operations offshore without first ensuring data privacy regulations like HIPAA. Other highly regulated industries, such as government and finance, also face stringent legal standards and regulations that they must be wary of when outsourcing core business processes.
Despite these limitations and contraindications, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index will serve as a valuable resource during initial evaluations of the BPO market, both for individual enterprises and the industry at large. Indeed, the most prominent companies are generally prominent on all measures, but while the winners often keep on winning, there are exceptions. With regular updates, this index takes those exceptions into account as well.
A successful partnership with a BPO can help businesses – from startups to global enterprises – adapt to demand, reduce operational costs, and improve risk management, among many other advantages. However, the market is notoriously difficult to navigate, and individual firms are almost completely opaque. Given the high-value and often mission-critical nature of outsourcing partnerships, it is important to establish an objective analysis for global BPO prominence, viability, and quality. To that end, the Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index is a vital tool in assisting the BPO decision-making community with a broad but objective assessment of the industry at large.
Further Resources and Contact
The full Global Outsourcing Firm (BPO) Index can be found at:
OA500 2024 – publish date Feb 2024:
For more information and contact:
- Global Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Market (globenewswire.com)
- Business Process Outsourcing Market Size, Share 2022-2030 (precedenceresearch.com)
- Ultimate outsourcing statistics and reports in 2021 | Outsource Accelerator
- BPO firms turn to technology for quick, credible hiring decisions | Philippines (mercer.com)