Derek is joined by James McBrien, an Australian national who founded OptiBPO. In this episode, Derek will explore Jamie’s past and his thoughts on outsourcing and the evolution into his optiBPO.
- Jamie has been a management consultant his whole career starting with Pricewaterhouse but ended up late in the shared services and outsourcing practice.
- The intention of optiBPO was to build more productized offering where they provide the onshore support to create the offshore success.
- Jamie shares that he has been on the space for a good 20 years. He’s been consulting for not much longer than 20 years.
- Capability has moved upmarket which means that the transfer of knowledge is far easier and it provided access to that middle market
- Jamie thinks that there’s still a lot of people that need to be convinced that it’s a good idea to outsource.
- Organizations realising that to survive, you need things in a cost sustainable way and for a lot of business the idea of holding on to some of the traditional values and ideas is probably is not going to end up in the right place.
- He talks about adding new and enhanced services. They have a range of clients to build new revenue lines that they just couldn’t justify building here by using an outsourced team.
- They have a service where they build standard operating procedures through a combination of tools and capture techniques that then gets built in the Philippines.
- The technology was improving and capability and the more we thought about it we just thought the Philippines is the place to focus on.
- Now, technologies improved, that’s cheap, that’s easy, to provide access to the cloud to most applications, those barriers have been removed.
- A lot of the apprehension now is coming down to concern about the risk of getting things right.
- We are definitely not a maturity so, big opportunity on the other side for a lot of businesses.
- One of the nice things about outsourcing is that you can pile up ideas, start small gain confidence and build success if use outsource again
Derek: Welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast my name is Derek Gallimore and this is episode 88, lucky for some. So today I’m joined by Jamie McBrien of optiBPO, it is an Australian outfit and it has a particularly excellent pedigree because of Jamie’s own background himself so i’ll allow Jamie to introduce that. We will have Jamie back in the future where we’ll deep dive further into his optiBPO and really explore the USP’s there and what it can add to people but at the moment it’s an introductory chatter, it’s exploring Jamie’s past and his thoughts on outsourcing and the evolution into his optiBPO so I’m sure you will enjoy this if you want to get in touch with Jamie or get any of the show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/88
Derek: Welcome back everyone to another episode of Outsource Accelerator today I’m excited to be joined by Jamie McBrien, Hi Jamie.
Jamie: Hi, how you going?
Derek: Good, Good and I’ll let you introduce yourself but you have very briefly have an interesting background in management consulting with leaning towards outsourcing and now own and have founded optiBPO which we’ll hear all about. So yeah great to have you on the show and can you I suppose introduce yourself and your initial journey to how you found yourself in outsource consulting.
Jamie: Thank you and thanks for the introduction. Yeah look, I’ve been a management consultant for better or worse my whole career starting of to Pricewaterhouse before they have keepers back in the 90’s, then joining the Deloitte through my time at the Deloitte worked for a range different functions but ended up late in the shared services and outsourcing practice there. I’m working with a range of medium to large Australian, New Zealand in global businesses in helping around their shared services and outsourcing strategies be there that in country offshore water or otherwise. A range different strategies through the 2000’s back when there’s a whole lot of barriers doing a whole lot of things and really it was only back then the focus of mainly large of leaders try to multiply businesses. From there I left to a global consultancy which didn’t last too long before decided to set up in 2008. My own consultancy optin to other business partner, optin to has always on consulted on finance and back office process and efficiency we’ve always build shared services, we’ve always helped clients outsource and we’ve always done it a variety of different locations across the world, the Philippines, Vietnam, China, India. Around 2014, 2013-2014, we saw the world we’re shifting, we saw that things we’re getting easy to transfer, the technology was improving and as was capability and the more we thought about it we just thought the Philippines is the place to focus in on so we sort of a separate business of optiBPO, the intention of optiBPO was to build more productized offering where we provide the onshore support to create the offshore success and by that we help clients plan, build and manage their offshore teams. So really it’s a more of a consulting focus working with people directly in country be it at Australia, New Zealand and now UK we have an office in London to help them think about what they can achieve through offshoring up helping them get that plan right making sure they have all the prerequisites in place and then looking to actually build and transition those teams and then manage them all ongoing basis to ensure success. So that’s where we come to.
Derek: Fantastic I mean just to rewind right back there when you were originally consulting about outsourcing, were you right at the early stages of world outsourcing I mean the whole sector is only 20-25 years old isn’t in a great scale?
Jamie: Yeah look, I joined the Deloitte back in the late 90’s so back then anything that was outsource is really at the low data entry level so the transaction or the repeatable level and I worked on it ever since so iv’e been on the space for a good 20 years I’ve been consulting for not much longer than 20 years so you can probably guess about my age but this has been the whole focus of my career and I’ve been great to see the evolution of it and to see it really grow in the last three or four years to finally get the potential we talked about now and interestingly not that long ago I look back on the presentation I gave in 2005 more of a sales presentation and while the promise was there the reality wasn’t a lot of the promises are aren’t out there and they’re definitely there and so..
Derek: Promises in terms of capabilities and outputs and quality standards?
Jamie: Yeah correct not that we’re missing the mark back in 2005 but I guess the aspirations of where you get to and where the world was going to is finally caught up to where some of that vision was
Derek: So I think the ultimate outsourcing is to have no perceivable different output or even operation of an outsource entity, I mean if you know sort of tolerating aspects of the output then it’s always on the downside as I suppose that the ultimate is actually just not knowing any different.
Jamie: Yeah look and we’re inclined to do fantastic thing I’m not too sure it was the best approach to outsourcing but they decide to run two teams for awhile, 1 in Sydney and 1 in the Philippines but what they did in the background unbeknownst to the team was they measured each of those teams on a range factors and the CFO of that business said to me that on a friday afternoon when you read the reports and the outsource team is performing better, than the local based team, he knew that’s when he got it right but he also knew that’s when he’s proven the point and that the whole focus going forward for that part that function of the business I would be an outsource man and we often come up in our strategy planning sessions with our clients for they say and I quote. Do we need to hire two people offshore for the one onshore and I think there’s a maybe a potential a little bit of cultural arrogance in that by the same token it just takes people a little while to understand that fact that you’re hiring people that from same education as you over the same textbook as you having the same Wikipedia articles as you and the capabilities absolutely a 1 for 1 so once people get confidence in that, it was interesting to see their attitude change.
Derek: So to give it some context you have worked for blue chip management consultancy, effective consulting for the higher end of outsourcing candidates, and I assume talking in thousands of seat kind of thing, but how have you seen the evolution of outsourcing over the 20-25 years. What are the sort of significant changes I suppose in infrastructure and output quality and capabilities?
Jamie: Yeah the exciting thing for me is that back in my Deloitte days yeah that was exactly where we are looking that very big end of town. optiBPO where we focus now is not that part of the world I let Accenture and others have that part of the world. The exciting thing for me is that we’re focused on the small to medium market however you want it to find that but come this range and size probably from 50 staff up to 2000 staff and maybe we wanted to be 3000 staff but more that, that small to medium market but before it was difficult for them to see the benefit because the technology setup was expensive the capability not been there and the number of low-level task that they were able to do which was the traditional focus of outsourcing wasn’t that large for them. However now, technologies improved, that’s cheap, that’s easy, to provide access through the cloud to most application, those barriers has been removed. Capability has moved up market which mean that the transfer of knowledge is far easier and it provided access to that middle market if you want to call it that and that’s the part that excites me now while I’m out of to the big end of town I’ve found lost interest over the years not far unashamedly come back to focus on that small to middle size businesses and the opportunity for them which is really the parts which is really coming to the before.
Derek: And outsourcing started in the realm of these big multinational conglomerates and a little bit like hedge funds previously that was only accessible to the billionaire’s of the world and it got democratized and these things become more accessible and kinda trickle down the, so outsourcing is more of a plug-and-play option now because the infrastructure and skill sets here in the Philippines, but how you finding the general awareness of your sort of a mid-level SME’s. Are they generally aware of outsourcing? Are they aware of the potential?
Jamie: Again another interesting thing for me if I compare Australia. Sydney office without our London office which I think is a good comparison to make. I think Australian businesses over the last two or three years, 3 or 4 years ago I would have to take people through the how and why of outsourcing, where is now they just want to focus on the how rather than the why so this seems to be a growing interest in this as a focus from Australian businesses. We find it a little bit different in the UK where for some reason we’re having a whole lot more explaining the why and I think that partly comes down to the fact that Australia is a small isolated country with a smaller population and so we have no choice but to think about these strategies but as well as that we just have a whole lot more exposure too some of this opportunities the novelist so with this growing exposure there’s people that are getting on to it there’s people that are thinking think about it there’s a long way to go. There’s still a lot of people that need to be convinced that it’s a good idea so I think that well I don’t think that we’re at the bleeding edge of this market I think we are not definitely not a maturity so, big opportunity on the other side for a lot of businesses.
Derek: What do you feel the main apprehensions of businesses are then and how many of them are kinda internally operation kind of concerns and how many of them are actually I care for job loss and the concern that jobs will go offshore?
Jamie: I think a lot of the apprehension now is coming down to concern around the risk of getting this right. We have clients that’s always concern about the customer interface. You know what if our customers realize that this is what we are doing and where does that go. The lost of jobs piece for me are seems to be reducing I think I have a lot of couple of years that apprehension you know unemployment is not rising in Australia or the UK or if it is it’s only small same in the Philippines and we thought for most people they realize that this is an opportunity for growth. I have 1 client who told me straight out that his business was looking pretty shaky into the future and through it outsourcing strategy overtime of building 20-30 people focus on a range of there is you see he was able to turn around he now has a bigger business here in Australia that includes more employees, more successful, more profitable, and going forward so I think there’s a bit of sustainability in there and I think organization realising that to survive you need to things in a cost sustainable way and for a lot of business the idea of holding on to some of the traditional values and ideas is probably is not going to end up in the right place.
Derek: Yeah it’s interesting isn’t it? Outsource Accelerator we do generate traffic, we advertise through facebook and adverts and we promote outsourcing and we actually get comments from certain non-plus people we are terrorist and you know we’re traitors and it certainly can be quite in a motivative topic if you target the wrong kind of demographic potentially but it’s kinda ironic as well isn’t it that Australia has, because it is isolated island and it can control you know border control and migrational controls that there is a very high base salary and a very high salary and a limited pool of workers in Australia but then ironically because of that i’m not getting political but protectionist stance maybe more people are outsourcing because it’s the kind of release valve because people want to expand their businesses, find cheaper resources and want to grow.
Jamie: Yeah and we got a number of clients you’re not spoken directly to each other that they see outsourcing as an opportunity to grow resource base so they couldn’t otherwise or help accelerate their business when you look in the build teams they’re upfront quoting and estimating either work like that. You’re capacity constrained and in Australia where salaries are high you sit there and say to yourself well if i’m going to put on someone on a $120,000 a year or a $150.000 a year, they need to have a broad set of capability and you need to take a deep breath as you make that decision and you bring on an additional resource which means that person need to be good at doing the lower level stuff and the higher strategic activities that were when you look at the outsourcing market you can say to yourself where I’d like to get a sales support team that drives forward sales strategy or like to build another support team that drives forward HR strategy or our marketing and other bits and pieces you could otherwise just absolutely not justify here so what the like to like replacement is easy to sit here and say that’s the one that takes jobs to when we replace 1 person with another person out there. That’s only a small part of what our clients do, now the other 2 big strategies for me are transforming the way we do things so we can do it more we can do it better which is some of the things I just talked about or adding new and enhance services, and we have a range of clients to build a new revenue lines that they just couldn’t justify building here through using an outsource team .
Derek: Yeah it’s incredible isn’t it and one of our catchline is save 70% but it’s not about just saving the 70% it’s about the innovation and growth that you can add to your business and in Australia when a salary is very commonly a $120.000 a year then it makes attempting growth very lumpy and very risky and very concerning isn’t it where is if you can, yeah you’ll get models then there’s huge opportunity for that growth and optimization and kind of exploring opportunities.
Jamie: Yeah, absolutely we have a you know I think a critical prerequisite if I use our own business as an example. The critical prerequisite I think to get outsourcing right is to have really well-documented details, standard operating procedures. The idea of getting it consulted in Australia to build that for you at $1500 a day even $800 a day can negate even the whole offshoring strategy and we have a this is the service that we build for ourselves. We have a service where we build standard operating procedures through a combination of tools and capture techniques that then get built in the Philippines. Where we offer that service to our clients at a level of palatable for them that they never pay me to ride them for them. They just go, I’m not going to pay your rate to do that it’s palatable for them. It get’s them where they need to be and it helps support our success in making sure their clients were offshore ready and then the sort of things well that’s our example we have lots of clients that have come up with their own new processes, their own new support areas that they are able to offer of their clients at the right price point that means they got a customer that’s more locked in with them.
Derek: Yeah, it’s fascinating isn’t it we’re actually grading a white paper at the moment on outsourcing being a win-win because we feel if we take this to the west we’ve got to an argument we are not just taking all your job so it’s actually a win-win and it’s fascinating to hear all of these specific examples of where it is winning and the community benefits and the government benefits and all of the stakeholders. It really is if growth and expansion is so expensive you know you have to get a consultant for 2 grand a day just to try and grow then things will stagnant won’t they because people will just stay put they won’t grow, they’ll just of sort of sit on their hands because you can’t have a highly risky growth opportunity because then it kinda mitigates out the benefits you know.
Jamie: Yeah look and while I would discourage anyone from being too scared about it. One of the nice things about outsourcing is that you can pile up ideas, start small gain confidence and build success if use outsource again the example our procedure documentation service which we kick off 2 years ago. It’s started on the basis we thought it was a good idea. We found someone we said why don’t you start next week let’s see how it goes we are just talking about from if in 3 to 6 months it hasn’t proven successful, we’re gonna step back from it but we know pretty quickly what we have. Now, the financial exposure in us making a decision wasn’t that worry some, now the bigger exposure the bigger concern for me rather than the outgoings and the cost setting that up was actually making sure that we want enough work to funnel through there because we wanted to be successful so rather where is the high consultant in Australia each time you take a deep breath you hope they work out, you hope they are fantastic and your concern is more on their delivery and their performance rather than your ability to get out there actually just generate work for them.
Derek: Yeah, the stakes are so much higher and you have many more sleepless nights, so many any kind of progressive business decision. Anyway, fantastic it has been great insight Jamie and I want to get you back so we can actually dig a little deeper into your BPO consultancies but in the meantime how people can get in touch with you if they want to extend the conversation
Jamie: Yeah great my email address is [email protected] our website is www.optibpo.com as well.
Derek: Fantastic and we’ll have all of that in the show notes anyway thank you very much for your time and insights, Jamie.
Jamie: Thank you.
Derek: Hope you enjoy that that was Jamie McBrien of optiBPO if you want to get in touch with Jamie or want to know anything about the show notes any links then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/88 and if you want to ask us anything, anything at all then just email us at [email protected] See you next time.
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- Stephane Morel – Living in the Philippines for over 9 years