Derek Gallimore explores the evolution of the outsourcing service industry and deep dive into the different service models with second-time guest Bastiaan Mawhin, a Dutch national who found his way to the Philippines over ten years ago as he spearheads the delivery of outsourcing services to the SME market.
To know more about Bas and his over ten years journey in the BPO industry you may want to check out our first episode with Bas, that is Outsource Accelerator Episode 168.
- In a span of ten years, Bas has been involved with many different offshore companies, in many different roles, in the various aspects of the outsourcing industry including that of MicroSourcing, a forerunner in catering to the SME market.
- The outsourcing industry has evolved from the traditional service provider to options or menu model provider. It’s easy to start-up or operate offshore even for small businesses by simply picking on an outsourcing service model or set of options from the provider.
- Business owners that are considering outsourcing need not become a full BPO, they can now choose service models that offers the best leverage, whether seat leasing, staff leasing, service office, or co-working type models.
- There is an evolution of the flexible co-working spaces and this trend is popping up in Manila and Makati, as much as the rest of the world.
- Bas stress the importance of transformation in the way we work, and the flexibility to adapt to global trends, a new culture, an innovative business model, or service platforms.
- He urges service providers in the Philippines to step up in their value propositions. Define those value-adding elements in their service models and to go for positive transformations.
- The outsourcing industry has evolved from the traditional full BPO type to options or menu type service providers as more SMEs are outsourcing talents, office services, seat and staff -leasing and other business options.
- It is important for service providers and likewise for business owners to continue learning, to be more educated to be able to equally benefit.
- Outsourcing providers will survive competition by stepping up with transformation and offer more value-adding services.
Derek: Hi, and welcome to another episode of The Outsource Accelerator Podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore. And today, again, we are joined by Bas Mahwin. He is a Dutch guy, been over here nearly over 10 years now, and is really an expert in all things outsourcing. So, we have known each other about eight years, and have seen the industry evolve, grow, diversify and get far more sophisticated in that time. So, it’s a really interesting conversation with Bas. And in this is episode, we talk about the evolution of the service provision within outsourcing. There’s a lot of different service models in outsourcing now. And we talk about how they all fit together. I did actually interview Bas previously in episode 168, if you want to go back and listen to that episode to get more of a back story on Bas, please do so. So, I hope you enjoy this episode. This is episode number 172. So, if you want any information of the show notes, just go to outsourceaccelerator.com/172. Enjoy!
Derek: Okay, welcome back everybody. Today I am super excited to be joined again by Bas Mahwin. Hi Bas, how are you?
Bas: I’m very well. Thank you very much, Derek. How are you today?
Derek: I’m amazing, I’m good. Thank you. And so, we had you previously, and it’s great to have you back today. I want to deep dive with you more into the different types of outsourcing. And you’ve been around for over 10 years now in the Philippines in outsourcing, and you’ve seen how the industry has really evolved and matured, but also how there’s a lot of different service offerings now. So, I suppose initially, do you just want to, for those that haven’t listened to the earlier podcast, introduce yourself and let them know how you found yourself here in the Philippines.
Bas: Absolutely. Like in many cases, I think a lot of foreigners came here with a love story. Unfortunately, in my case, that’s not the way I went about it. I started here over 10 years ago with a project with Shell. And after a period of I would say nine months, I really got a great experience here, felt there was an amazing journey ahead of me, and more so in the outsourcing and offshoring. That really started to kick off, which I experienced even in the Shell days, with them building a very big shared service center. And yeah, in a span of 10 years, I’ve been involved with many different companies in many different sorts of roles and involvements in different aspects of the industry. And yeah, 10 years later, it’s been a very exciting journey, and I’m even more excited for what’s ahead of us.
Derek: Yeah, and we first crossed paths in MicroSourcing. I started, built my first team here in MicroSourcing in about 2011, and you were one of the management team there. And back then, MicroSourcing was kind of leading the pack or certainly one of the forerunners in terms of catering to an SME market and outsourcing. And now, I really believe that’s the kind of future of outsourcing is in the SME market. All the companies in the West should really at least consider outsourcing. But how are you seeing the market evolve, because originally 20 years ago, it was just BPO, which is kind of deliverable-based contracts for mega companies that are taking hundreds if not thousands of seats. And since then, it’s gotten kind of more individualized. People are catering to BPO’s and certain SME’s. But now it’s kind of evolving so much more now. How are you seeing the market evolve?
Bas: Yeah, specifically to zoom on that small and medium size market space. I think one of the key words is options. Whereas in the olden days, you would sit and listen to what the solution is that was presented to you, that the provider felt that was a good solution for you to improve either your customer service, your tech support or whatnot. Nowadays, there’s more calibration that takes place. And also, a bit of homework from the SME business owner that doesn’t necessarily come in and necessarily listens to what the solutions are out there, but more looks at other elements on where he can pick and choose from the options that certain providers have available, or multiple providers have available. And pick and choose those services, and pick and choose those business models that would really suit their immediate need, as well as their future requirements. And I think that’s really sort of a transformation that I’ve seen over the years, with obviously more players come into the market. That’s definitely been an exciting part of what outsourcing to the Philippines is, these days.
Derek: And what I’ve sort of observed is that it went from a full service like one option model, and now there’s more models. But it seems to be veering towards kind of trimmed down, kind of going towards bare bones as everything tends to do. And I’m not sure necessarily if that’s kind of the best evolution for the market overall. But what are the different service options in outsourcing then, because you’ve got the full service BPO which doesn’t seem to be so common anymore. And then you go more towards the kind of staff and seat leasing sort of options here.
Bas: Yeah, I think it all comes down to how do businesses want to spend their money, share their risk or take on risk. I think as I mention, it’s about that homework that business owners do and what they think they’re capable of, and what it is already that you have in-house as a company that is considering to outsource? You may have leadership already. You may have those capabilities, those processes, those frameworks already. Then why would you go full BPO?
I think these are all questions on the table that you kind of have to ask yourself before you even start committing an outsourcing journey, or even start talking to outsourcing parties, to not only challenge them but even challenge yourself. Look, the models these days, they are stripped down, but I think the stripped down, I’d rather want to call that as something more, as I mentioned earlier, options or a menu. As business owners or as companies that are considering outsourcing, you simply have more of options. And certain options simply suit you better, whether it’s more of a seat leasing or a service office or co-working type of model where you pick and choose those services that you would need help with, whether it’s legal, financial or even recruitment for that matter. Or more going to a model where you say, “Look, I don’t necessarily want to establish myself in the Philippines, set up a legal entity, go through all those processes, and partner with a provider and have a partner take care of these things.” Or simply say, “Look, I’m at a mature stage that I actually want to connect myself with added value, and I still want to go for a traditional model.” Why? Because this company seems to have a great, done great jobs with companies improving their average handling times or their C-SATs, or their NPS scores, and we feel if we’re going to buy that in the US or Australia for that matter, and that’s going to cost us an arm and a leg, whereas if we can do it here, or we can leverage the benefit of outsourcing, as well as the capabilities of them improving our customer service for example.
Derek: Yeah, the full service BPO is more of an operational partnership, isn’t it? Whereas the staff leasing I suppose is more about employment partnership, isn’t it? It just kind of get you past the red tape but gets you kind of 90% of all of the difficult stuff done.
Derek: And how are you seeing the evolution, because really at the moment, and I think this is taking the world by a storm. And I’m actually quite surprised seeing it have such an impact in Manila that the co-working spaces in here. I’m like, just office space generally now is becoming far more flexible. The traditional leasing model of any office space anywhere in the world seems to be reducing, and you get these kinds of flexible co- working spaces. Are you surprised to see that pop up in Manila as much as the rest of the world?
Bas: No, not at all. We could see this coming. I mean, the SME market started coming, and even underneath the so called small medium sized market where you start to see start-up, even local as well as the global ones. At the end, a business still, as much as we can automate, as much as we’d like to drive a lot thorough the efficiencies of devices, hardware, software, we still need human beings. We still need certain skill sets and talents to get to that point. And even if we get to that point you want to evolve. Therefore, you need additional skill set. So that play has always been there. What has been transforming globally, I suppose, is more the way we work. This is not something that just happened over the last five years. This transformation in the way we work, whether it is a change in the office environment, whether it is a change of more flexible arrangements with the employer and the employee. This was happening decades ago as well. It’s more how could we connect, what’s the readiness in the outsourcing model to start adopting those changes more significantly. And to your point, these days we’re seeing a lot of changes in the Philippines, a lot of changes, especially in those rising hubs for example in Bonifacio Global City, Makati. Very good spots for those models to pop up and really start to connect to even a different culture, a different sort of business entrepreneur community.
Derek: Yeah, it really is impressive, isn’t it? There’s so much A grade office space popping around BGC, uptown Makati. It’s mind blowing in a way. I just hope there’s enough industry to keep them all.
Bas: Well you see a lot of those that may have gone a little bit overboard on committing to a lot of office space and now try to fill it up. But I think what it also shows is, and that’s one of the things that we may forget here as well, is that there is already talent, and the talent has been there for decades. What is happening now is that whether it’s a foreign-local relationship or just purely locally driven, there is a start-up culture here. There are people now that are driving innovative business models, ideas, platforms that are not necessarily servicing the Philippines, but also servicing the globe. I think that’s also quite impressive that I’ve been able to observe over the past sort of five or 10 years as well.
Derek: Yeah, and you say sort of five years, it is sort of a more recent phenomenon in this. I think all over the world, start-ups and entrepreneurship is getting more popular, so more people are jumping into it. But I kind of have the feeling in Manila or the Philippines, you really have to be pretty affluent to be able to even think about kind of entrepreneurial pursuits. And also, there’s a tendency for people to kind of stick with more prescribed roles, safer roles. So, I find it really kind of invigorating to see people really jumping into entrepreneurship and try to solve the problems of the world. Do you see it as, and also then as people are doing that in Manila, economy, that provides a huge wealth of talent for people in the West that want to tap into entrepreneurially minded people here? It’s just getting kind of a richer, more qualified talent pool over here, isn’t it?
Bas: Absolutely, and I think this is already something that the Philippines as a whole benefit from. The outsourcing world and the outsourcing industry is really benefiting from. I think the more defined hubs that we see now from all the way to the traditional outsourcing on how we know it from the olden days, to more of the start-up, menu options, slim down models and anything in between. Again, the fact that there are options out there educates local service providers that they need to up their game in terms of the quality of services, and really start to find what their added value is, instead of just saying I’ve got a seat, I’ve got an internet connection, and I will legally employ them. Off you go. That’s not the value proposition these days anymore. So, I think altogether, it’s a very positive transformation that we’ve seen. And it puts out a signal to all of the providers in the Philippines that they need to step it up and start defining more what those value-added pieces are. And at the same time, it also allows business owners to be more educated on what they want, and perhaps even more so on what they don’t want.
Derek: Yeah, absolutely. And I think now that they are increasingly getting educated. It’s becoming more of a sophisticated market from both sides of the pond really. Okay, thank you so much, Bas. I want to get you back here, and I want to discuss the future of outsourcing and also how the SME’s can get the best results they want. Thank you so much for your time. If people want to get in touch with you in the meantime, how can they do that?
Bas: They can reach me through LinkedIn under Bastiaan Mahwin. They can reach me on social media, Facebook under the same name, or my Skype, which is also my name Bas Mahwin.
Derek: Okay, that was Bas Mahwin. If you want to get in touch with Bas at all, the spelling can be a little bit complicated, so go to our show notes, that is at outsourceaccelerator.com/172. And of course, if you want to ask us anything, please do. Just drop some email to [email protected]. See you next time!