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Change Management is Critical for a Successful BPO Relationship

by Simon Sammons, Global Offerings Director, Accenture Operations

Managing the individual and organizational effects of change is critical in any business process outsourcing (BPO) relationship. Much like a person’s lasting impression of a visit to a far-away, exotic destination may be shaped largely by the journey to get there, how change is managed while working toward a business goal affects the perceptions of success for that goal. In fact, our research shows that the most successful BPO relationships - those that produce the greatest business value - hinge on the ability of the provider to manage the wide-ranging human and structural effects of BPO on the organization as a whole.

BPO providers with experience and a proven methodology for addressing organizational challenges are critical for effective change management. This requires a provider with people who are experienced in the relevant functions and technologies, and who possess a deep and extensive knowledge of the outsourced function and the client’s business processes. This often includes coordinating work across large geographic areas, underscoring the need for continuous, on-the-ground information about the client’s diverse regional business needs.

Helping people from both the retained and outsourced workforces understand the impact of the change and managing that change effectively through the short and long-term are critical components of a successful BPO engagement.

Managing the retained workforce

Effectively managing the changes experienced by the retained workforce - and the portion of the business process that remains in-house once outsourcing begins - is a priority. Unless change management effectively monitors both the structure and performance of this group, a dangerous disconnect can arise, eroding the value of the arrangement. Companies that are attentive to transition issues and to supporting the retained workforce have been found to drive topline benefits from a more effective functional organization.

Efforts should also be made to overcome the natural resistance to change, while giving people the knowledge and skills they need to work in new ways. This may involve the use of innovative programs for training, collaboration and knowledge sharing; cultural assessments to help determine where misaligned attitudes may interfere in the new work environment; and redesigned work processes that go beyond telling people about change, and instead use technologies that embed new ways of working into the applications these workers use.

The long-term journey

Managing for the long-term is not just about avoiding risks, but also about identifying opportunities. Clients and providers should work together to define a compelling vision for the future, recognize where the gaps are, and then create a roadmap to take advantage of the opportunities.

This means making the change adaptive and agile in the face of new business demands that are likely to occur over time. Often, this involves reassessing previously defined end-state targets in light of market shifts and changing business priorities. Business outcomes – not just the achievement of intermediate project goals – must be monitored to keep the program on track through expected leadership shifts and marketplace changes.

All of this goes into enabling a BPO relationship that is more capable of change– one that recognizes change as a constant presence, and actively seeks it out rather than avoiding it.

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Learn more about Accenture Operations, the business process excellence and cloud technology specialist.

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