Many companies look to business-process outsourcing to save money. But the most successful clients concentrate less on cost savings and more on achieving innovation.
In recent years, the number of companies that outsource critical business processes to outside suppliers has grown significantly worldwide. The business-process outsourcing (BPO) market has been estimated to be worth $309 billion in 2012,1 including activities such as finance and accounting, human resource management, procurement and legal services, and the overall volume is estimated to be growing at a rate of around 25% annually.2 Many organizations initiated BPO as part of an operational effort (for example, to reduce costs or access skills), but it has evolved into much more. Senior managers today expect more from BPO service providers than short-term cost savings and meeting minimum contractual requirements.3 Moreover, they are skeptical of big-bang improvements.4 Companies want service providers to innovate constantly. (See “About the Research.”) In relationships that companies classify as high performing, the service providers perform a series of innovation projects that deliver substantial long-term improvements to the client’s operating efficiency, business-process effectiveness and strategic performance. Consider the following examples:
- A BPO provider helped a health care company improve the claims adjudication process by using analytics to predict claims likely to result in rework. The predictive tool now intercepts more than 50% of claims that would have been reworked, saving the client $25 to $50 in administrative costs per overpaid claim and $6 to $12 per underpaid claim.
- An aerospace manufacturer worked with its BPO provider to add new key performance indicators and processes to manage third-party vendors. This allowed the client to improve customer-order fill rates for new parts from 60% to 85% and turnaround times for delivering parts to grounded vehicles from 21 hours to 17 hours.
- A supermarket chain collaborated successfully with its BPO provider to implement new forecasting tools, techniques and methods that improved the client’s stock fill rate from 80% to 95%, reduced inventory by 27% and reduced error rates by 50%.