The Risk Management Component of Business Process Outsourcing

Introduction: 

Did you know that risk management is the first piece in the puzzle of your organization’s triangulation with technology, processes, quality, and people? Wherever technology goes, people and processes often follow in tow. Normally, people will organize themselves both as management and staff around an idea or a cause with technology to create and maintain processes. The most practical example is your business (EDC, 2018; Navex, 2018; Thomas, 2020; Investopedia Team, 2021).  

As your business grows, its processes and technology also multiply adding to the layers of complexity of managing your customers, employees, information and processes. In no time, your company’s performance quality might suffer if no safeguards are put in place to mitigate against risks before they can become issues (Benett, 2020).  With some bit of planning, however, you could choose to become proactive rather than reactive about it. This is the whole essence of the risk management approach to keeping the bad guys out and the good guys in! (Cole, 2020)  

Perhaps in the earlier days of computing, when ENIAC and UNIVACs machines dominated the headlines what really mattered then was a simple security padlock on the door and a perimeter wall all around the inventory storage rooms. After all, the most expensive pieces of equipment in the history of Information Technology yet were still giant machines and their many parts. Computing in those primitive days was still very much an exception rather than the rule and a rare privilege available only to a few organizations in the U.S. This fact of high-level obscurity in itself was enough for those privileged organizations not to bother a lot about thinking heavily on security investments beyond physical and machine maintenance security (Leeuw, 2014; Rao & Nayak, 2014; Lynett, 2015; Chadd, 2020). 

Today the story is distinctly different in that the equipment pieces are still relatively expensive all right but not necessarily in the context of the intrinsic value of the parts that form the machine. The form is not as important as the function of the parts, which together contribute to the sum total of the parts being greater than the whole. This is because nowadays the physical security is only but a component of the larger and more important logical security of data, processes, information, information assets and people within an organization. However, it is also because the computers have grown smaller, faster, and cheaper with each passing year (Murphy, 2019; Geeksforgeeks, 2019).  

Everything-as-a-service: 

Technology investments can be a costly affair especially when you are just starting out as a business. Thankfully, cloud computing offers scalable solutions suitable for your growing business demands and minimal budget allocations (Adams, 2017). As such small and medium businesses have found refuge in platform-as-a-service, software-as-a-service, and infrastructure-as-a-service cloud solutions offered by big tech companies and open source communities (Strømmen-Bakhtiar & Razavi, 2011; Wu & Buyya, 2015; Teleperformance, 2016; Open, 2019; Moore, 2020; Smith, 2021). Businesses that adopt these models often take great satisfaction in knowing that they only get to pay for what they need when they need it and hence do not have to worry about upfront heavy capital layout (Teckan, 2015; StepWise, 2020; GlobalKnowledgeTraining, 2021).  Businesses must also make tradeoffs between scalability, privacy, and security (Weinhardt, et al., 2009; Stokes, 2015; Sadar, 2015; Hogan, 2021).  

The Security component: 

One of the most popular software-as-a-service models in cloud computing right now is certainly cybersecurity owing to the rampant nature of cybercrime and limited resource allocation patterns by most companies to protect against potential cyber threats (CUOFANO, 2020; Arora, 2021; Securing Cloud Services: Air Defense for Information Systems, 2021; Daley, 2021). Precisely, security-as-a-service is emerging as a viable scalable, solution to new and persistent threats including ransomware-as-a-service, phishing, denial-of-service, none-state-actors, etc. (Avey, 2019; Cypress Data Defense, 2020; Kretchmer, 2021;). Vendors of security software and services are known in the industry as managed security services providers, or MSSPs, who are the equivalents of the general software managed services providers, or MSPs, usually offer security services in the cloud, on-premise, or on mobile (Fortinet, 2018). Sometimes, they might also offer a hybrid model of sorts to suit the client’s preferences (Mehdar, 2020; Netdepot, 2020; Check Point, 2021).  

Overlaps between MSSPs and BPOs: 

Managed security service providers, MSSPs tailor their solutions around bundled security services that may range from provision of expertise, cost savings, freedom to focus on business, and advanced technology (SDM, 2014; GlobalData, 2018; GlobalData(b), 2018; Prakash, 2019; Cybervalue, 2020; Security Metrics, 2021).  

In a similar vein, business process outsourcing promises to reduce costs, focus on core business priorities, increase efficiencies, gain access to skilled expertise and technology, build capacity, and improve the quality of production, among others, as just a few of the benefits accruing from a BPO engagement. Whereas business process outsourcing deals mainly with the business process side of things, managed security services focus mainly on the security aspect of the business.  

The advantage of business process outsourcing is that whereas a business may opt to outsource its information security requirements to a dedicated MSSP provider due to the factors mentioned earlier or beyond, the same business can hope to gain a lot more than one type of expertise or the other just from buying into a business process outsourcing relationship service.  

Five benefits that your business can derive from a business process outsourcing relationship engagement: 

Below is a list of five benefits that businesses like yours can hope to gain from a business process outsourcing transaction. 

  • Process documentation and analysis of customer data workflows leading to greater efficiency and visibility of task execution.  
  • Mastery of the client process workflows builds up confidence in comfortably working with similar datasets with minimal margins of error.  
  • Clients get an added advantage of risk management benefit from risk transfer of their information outsourcing to BPO sellers.  
  • Advanced expertise and technology support from a dedicated workforce and infrastructure.  
  • Gain working relationship with the whole BPO organization-as-a-service rather than simply one particular offering as a service. 

1). Process documentation and analysis of customer data workflows leading to greater efficiency and visibility of task execution: 

BPO vendors are professionals in their fields who constantly push themselves to improve their own processes and systems while supporting their clients’ businesses, through KPIs and OKMs that monitor and review quality and performance metrics of every work assignment commissioned. They do this by first collecting empirical data from surveys and focus groups that they conduct with their potential customers and competitors to understand the market and industry and design a competitive product development around insights gathered from research. They then lay out these customer and competitor business processes on canvas to visualize their workflows, pain points, and strengths alongside their own to try to close the gaps if any, and emerge among the favorites and winners on the other side.   

By progressively maturing along the continuum of process improvement cycle, including streamlining and documentation of processes, these BPO vendors inevitably attain greater work efficiencies and stronger visibility of their workflows with trickle-down net effects on their customers’ overall satisfaction levels. However, it does not end there. BPO provides even go-ahead to engage feedback collection through client satisfaction surveys, focus groups, and social media engagement for sentiment analysis purposes.  

2). Mastery of the client process workflows builds up confidence in comfortably working with similar datasets with minimal margins of error: 

 As a direct net result of the previous benefit through process documentation and maturity improvement, most BPO vendors also eventually become the masters of their trade as they become more and more adept at understanding their clients’ processes and workflows better, thereby building up a progressive think-tank of expertise and know-how and create value around existing and new product designs. They hence gain confidence to take on new assignments with similar business support requirements with fewer margins of error.  

3). Clients get an added advantage of risk management benefit from risk transfer of their information outsourcing to BPO sellers:  

 All the while as BPO services providers gain greater efficiency, understanding, and confidence in their trade, they demonstrate this newfound expertise through the formulation of improved tools of the trade with which to support their growing base of customers. Inevitably as their confidence in working with new tools of trade also increases, more and more customers will gain their trust thereby improving their top line. Beyond the topline benefits, however, is the realization that their esteemed clientele bequeaths that level of trust to them.  This is a demonstration of the transfer of risk management as a suitable treatment option for most BPO buyers who lack the expertise and resources to undertake such weightier matters. 

4). Advanced expertise and technology support from a dedicated workforce and infrastructure: 

BPO providers are passionate about what they do as well as the combined capability of technology and talent to deliver unparalleled services to their customers. As such, they are both willing and ready on the go to share their advanced knowledgebase and technology services to their most loyal customers and partners around the clock. Their passion is driven by a collective goal and mission of supporting their most deserving clients and employees for greater impact in the society in which they serve.  

5). Gain a deeper working relationship with the whole BPO organization-as-a-service rather than simply one particular offering as a service: 

Most providers of BPO services can even extend their passion to cover the outsourcing of the entire organization as a service rather than simply just a few lines of businesses here and there. For example, based on the growing knowledge and expertise scenario given in one of the earlier benefits above, these BPO vendors often expand their product offerings to include advisory, risk and consultancy services that can sit in other departments apart from the key operations departments that offer client support. The benefit that accrues to the customers is the ability to gain expert support in terms of distributed resources and advice from the organization in its entirety as a single entity. Naturally, vendors and customers will create personal and working relationships that will only deepen further and propel their engagements into the distant future for the betterment of each party and society.  

How StepWise Measures Up: 

At StepWise, we have taken practical steps to establish, implement, monitor, review, and continuously update our processes with an intention to understanding the pain points of our customers and then streamlining how to help them more effectively ameliorate those pain points.   

One way that we have proved that we care about our customers is by our investment in robust technology and best-in-class talent that work in concert to provide round-the-clock support to our esteemed clientele. Unlike most companies nowadays that go after the allure of pure automation models with far fewer employees to cut operational costs, we have established a rather hybrid model that puts both of our most important resources namely our employees and technology on par to streamline our processes, increase efficiencies, and work turnaround times for our clients. 

 One key differentiator is the fact that we get most of our core employees straight out of the marginalized communities and then train them around our key business programs and processes. This is quite deliberate since, at StepWise, we are passionate about both profits and purpose. However, we also understand that there can be no purpose without profits and that is why we continuously invest in technology, information security and quality management processes to bring our business and people up to speed with our esteemed customers’ requirements.  

While at it, we also help you reduce your risk in supporting your core business processes with established quality and security standards and processes through a highly trained workforce talent that are passionate about what they do and a robust technology infrastructure that seamlessly and flexibly interfaces with your own according to your preferences.  

We go over and above key industry and customer expectations to establish, implement, monitor, review, update and continuously maintain our systems, processes, policies and procedures to meet and potentially surpass benchmark risk and quality standards across the board.   

However, StepWise also goes beyond just the five main benefits derived from a BPO vendor service relationship as highlighted in the previous sections above to include a game-changing way of doing things by being just not about profits but rather also passionate about purpose. Your relationship with StepWise automatically transforms your business into a socially responsible business with every dollar that you invest into our services going directly to support and lift tens of hundreds of households out of poverty and marginalization from underserved but talented young Kenyans.  This is because StepWise is a B-Corp-certified organization (StepWise, 2019).  

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