Arun, Country Head of Ventura (India), shares the business and IT strategy
involved in setting up a world-class BPO outfit.
Setting up an offshore BPO centre for the first time has to
rank among the most challenging tasks for any CEO. This is because the new facility
has to be on par with the outsourcers operations, and provide the same
standard and quality levels.
Venturas primary objective when it started out was to create a world-class
BPO entity and become a leading player in the Indian contact centre industry.
This is why it made sense for the company to involve IT as a strategic business
partner from the very first day.
The Primary Decision
The first big decision in setting up a BPO centre is location. This decision
affects all other future decisions including availability of infrastructure,
power supply, networking, stability and skilled resources.
After the assessment, IT has to be involved at the business planning stage itself.
The list of possible IT solutions is narrowed down, and vendors are selected
to negotiate the contract. Global partners are preferred because they provide
expertise with efficiency. IT plays an integral part in the entire vendor selection
process to get the best vendors and the most competitive prices. Legal and regulatory
compliance has to be considered carefully. In Venturas view, Pune rated
very high on all these parameters.
Infrastructure management can be outsourced to a suitable global partner if
it has the ability and resources to manage the same. A SWOT analysis helps a
company find out what it is good at and where it needs the assistance of experts
in a particular field.
A new BPO should take a phased approach towards growth. It should go for incremental
deployment depending on new or current business requirements, and should interact
with clients to gain a better understanding of their business. This helps a
BPO run its own business more efficiently because its IT deployment has to reflect
the business needs of its clients.
A BPOs main focus should be on people and the
quality of input given by them. This helps the BPO consolidate itself
as a long-term brand and provide long-term service delivery capabilities
However, a BPOs main focus should be on people and the
quality of input given by them. This helps the BPO consolidate itself as a long-term
brand and provide long-term service delivery capabilities. Clients usually give
you a single chance, so the entire concept of offshoring for the client is affected
by this experience.
The IT infrastructure has to be robust keeping the downtime to a minimum. Proper
consideration must be given to telephony as most of a BPO companys key
IT deployments are telephony-based. The CIOs job is to ensure proper deployments
vis-à-vis networking, servers and applications, with an emphasis on network
Security Is Paramount
Security concerns are of supreme importance. Security must include implementing
paperless zones and providing desktop PCs without data copying devices or pen
drives. Physical security has to be rigorous and audits have to be conducted
regularly at periodic intervals to assess how information security is managed.
A BPOs best practices must include the need-to-know policy as far as data
is concerned. The agent on the floor should have access to only that information
which he needs to know, to answer queries, and to manage customer interactions.
Take associates into confidence and stress the importance of what they are doing.
Educate them on the value of handling sensitive information. Even the best system
can fail if somebody decides to sabotage it. Focus on changing the mindset,
and make employees understand that one small act of indiscretion can bring down
a multi-million dollar outsourcing company.
It is usually found that people use e-mail to send text data outside as an attachment
or text file. To prevent this, e-mail access is given only to the management
level team unless there is a business need. Any unrecognised files, jpeg files
or other obvious stuff having the potential of bringing infection are blocked.
The management regularly monitors what comes in and what is sent out of the
The CIOs Dual Role
In a BPO, the CIO plays two essential roles. The first is that of a business
facilitator. Since IT is involved in the core business planning model, the CIO
must align IT with business. He is an integral part of the decision-making team
which checks the viability of any business proposition.
At the same time, the CIO also has to identify new business solutions. He has
to ensure proper vendor management because vendors play a key role in IT deployment
and management. In addition, he has to make sure that the project and change
management continues on an ongoing basis. This is because once the process starts
there is dependence on the technological system as well as the business model
of the end-customer.
The CIOs second role is to ensure that day-to-day IT operations remain
smooth and robust. He has to minimise incidents that cause downtime, and ensure
smooth operations to provide constant service delivery and constant onsite management.
BPOs have huge IT deployments, so managing the systems on an ongoing basis is
a challenge in itself. This is where quality service delivery from the business
continuity, disaster recovery and downtime minimisation perspectives come in.