Successful Business Process Outsourcing

Companies should evaluate an outsourced process on several dimensions and then tailor the contract accordingly.

Reading Time: 4 min 


Permissions and PDF

According to SAP INFO Solutions, four out of five business process outsourcing (BPO) contracts inked today will need to be renegotiated within two years. And 20% of all such contracts will collapse. When BPO arrangements fail, companies and their outsourcing providers pay the price in lost time and money. Moreover, customer satisfaction and competitiveness can suffer as companies fail to achieve the efficiencies and cost savings promised by BPO.

Yet these scenarios can be avoided if companies carefully analyze the nature of the processes they are outsourcing and establish the right contractual relationship with their vendors. The correct fit between processes and BPO relationship governance can improve the odds that the arrangement will generate the competitive advantages that outsourcing promises, assert Deepa Mani, Anitesh Barua and Andrew B. Whinston in a May 2005 University of Texas at Austin working paper titled, Of Process Analysis and Alignment: A Model of Governance in BPO Relationships.

The authors, from the McCombs School of Business, draw their conclusions from a survey of 145 executives in a variety of organizations that have outsourced business processes. The survey instrument was a questionnaire comprising 50 items, asking respondents to describe the processes they outsourced; the contractual relationships they established with their vendors; and their level of satisfaction on criteria such as the reliability, responsiveness and accountability of the BPO arrangement, as well as the operational efficiencies gained.

The researchers found patterns in the data suggesting that BPO arrangements stand a better chance of generating the desired benefits if companies evaluate an outsourced process on several dimensions and then tailor the contract to fit those dimensions. According to the authors, three particularly relevant process dimensions are:

  • Complexity: The extent to which the people performing the process must adopt different methods or procedures to do their work and the degree to which these individuals lack immediate, established solutions to process problems.
  • Independence: The degree to which a process can be analyzed and changed without affecting other processes in the organization.
  • Strategic importance: The extent to which the process affords the organization a competitive advantage.

Any process, the authors contend, can be a candidate for BPO. But to improve the odds of a successful outsourcing arrangement, the approach to relationship governance should reflect the nature of the process in question. That is, the two should be aligned — with the BPO governance structure matched to the nature of the outsourced process.


Reprint #:


More Like This

Add a comment

You must to post a comment.

First time here? Sign up for a free account: Comment on articles and get access to many more articles.

Comments (2)
Mo Em
Thanks a lot for the article. Although outsourcing could bring many benefits however it is very difficult to find appropriate companies and expert to outsource the projects. Could you kindly give us some solutions on this?
Brianna Habala
This is an insightful article. Have you considered why businesses seem to be neglecting the terms and conditions of contracts? I think that the art of contracting in the past has been thought of as a mere formality in doing business with outside vendors. Recently, the terms of contracts have caused major issues in product and service supply; therefore, businesses, as you say, must channel more effort towards tailoring their contracts to match their expectant performance of their respective vendors. When businesses stop seeing contracts as a legal necessity, and more as a negotiable document that could contribute to its core strategy-they will begin seeing massive benefits from supplier relations.