Using AI for content moderation: a logical progression

Using AI for content moderation: a logical progression

Using AI for content moderation: a logical progression

There are many things that keep getting debated by humanity, with opinions ranging widely across the spectrum.

Then there are some issues which seem to be universally accepted, at least by the impacted constituencies.

The need for companies to seek User Generated Content, UGC for short, and the need to moderate that UGC, seem to be two issues that find universal acceptance, at least amongst the companies that generate it as well as the people who consume it, leading to a point where using AI for content moderation appears to be a widely accepted practice too.

oWorkers has been moderating content for clients from around the world for over 8 years. It is a growing practice with the increasing volume of content being generated. As a GDPR compliant, ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified company, oWorkers has forged relationships with a number of technology companies, which provides us access to cutting-edge technology, whether it is for content moderation, or any other service.

 

Need for generating UGC

The internet has dramatically altered how information is shared and consumed.

Perhaps just a generation back it seems there was a dearth of information and people hungry for it would seek out sources like newspapers, television, radio, and other more subject-specific sources, to get more information.

Today we have a surfeit of information. We are flooded by information from all sides. At the click of a button or two on the internet we can access any piece of information, from anywhere in the world, that has been put up for open access.

The shoe is now on the other foot. We now seem to have ‘too much’ information, if that is possible, and the challenge now is to separate the wheat from the chaff, distil the truth from the lies, the real from the fake, the relevant from the irrelevant.

This applies to communication generated by businesses as well.

It is an accepted fact that for a business, its financial soundness and money-making ability, as long as it is within legal boundaries, comes at the cost of almost everything else. They have long sought to portray themselves and their products in positive hues. Understandably so. One cannot expect a business to speak poorly of the products and services it is selling, can one? This, again perhaps understandably, leads to their target customers accepting their messages with a ‘pinch’ of salt, if not more. Consumers are not fools. They see and hear what businesses have to say to them, seek out more information, and then use their own personal algorithms to determine the merit of the pitched products and take the buying decisions.

Initially restricted to platforms like print media advertisements, billboards, radio and TV spots for communicating their message, the growth of social media platforms has provided companies with a new platform that, if used judiciously, could enable them to reach much larger numbers at lower costs. And they have been quick to get on to the social media bandwagon for product promotions. While cost may have increased with greater adoption, what has definitely increased on account of the rising popularity of social media is the information clutter or overload.

Already faced with disbelief of advertiser claims, this clutter makes it more difficult for target customers to ‘get the message’ that advertisers are trying to convey.

Enter user generated content.

Social media users around the world have shown a tendency towards looking for genuine user feedback and comments on the products and services they are interested in, as one of their evaluation parameters, instead of placing reliance on what is claimed by the business itself. Recognizing this trend, companies have moved fast, as they do when they need to, in finding ways to generate UGC in support of their products and services.

This is why generating UGC has come to occupy a prominent place in the marketing budgets of many companies.

As active, contributing members in the communities where our delivery centers are located, oWorkers has access to the best talent as a preferred employer. Whatever be the reason UGC is generated, our talented staff, who are employees, and not freelancers or contractors as preferred by some of our competitors, are equipped to deliver the goods.

A related benefit of access to a continuous supply of talent is the ability to handle short-term spikes in client volumes. These could be seasonal or these could be driven by other events. Our deep supply pool enables us to meet these short-term requirements, resulting in significant savings for clients who would otherwise need to keep resources idle for significant periods of time when volumes are lower.

 

Need for moderation

What we are deep down could, at times, be very different form what we are when in front of others. How we behave when we believe we are safe from the prying eyes of the world could be very different from our ‘society’ face.

The internet, with its ability to reach the deepest recesses of the world, where users can interact with the content on the web from a feeling of power, of being able to do what they want, without censure, of expressing themselves in a way they are not able to with others, sometimes gives rise to content that can be frightening as well as damaging for others who happen to access it. This is one of the reasons why content needs to be moderated.

Most social media platforms provide spaces where companies, brands, even individuals, can create their own spaces, like groups and pages, where they can initiate conversations about the themes they are interested in. These are often leveraged by brands to generate conversations about their products and services. This is the unbiased content interested buyers look for when they take a decision. The platform also gives the brand an opportunity to reach newer customer segments.

Whether the open platform, or sections of the platform created and managed by companies and individuals, abusive or offensive content can be posted on both. Platform and space owners typically set out the rules for participation, thereby setting expectations that action could be taken if someone steps out of line. Moderation can be exercised even if the participation violates some written or unwritten rules of civil society. It does not need to be specifically written in the rules of a website for someone to know that pornographic or graphic violence should not be posted on any openly accessible platform.

This is where the need for content moderation as well as using AI for content moderation emanates from.

Operating from super secure facilities in each of its three delivery locations, oWorkers offers support in 22 languages as it employs a multicultural team. While images may not have a language, textual, audio and video content do.

 

How content is moderated

There are a few universally understood methods of content moderation that can be done manually. In brief, these are:

Pre-moderation

In this method, content is reviewed and authorized before it becomes visible on a platform. It exercises the best control over malicious content being visible to visitors but tends to delay publishing, stinting a vibrant community.

Post-moderation

Here, content is allowed to become visible, while it keeps getting reviewed and removed, if found unsuitable. The advantage is that content is not held back, which is an encouragement to participants to contribute. However, it is possible malicious content has been viewed, and even clicked, by some visitors, before it could be removed.

Reactive moderation

Reactive moderation is based on the inputs provided by community members on the suitability of content. Buttons and tools are made available to them for their inputs. Based on the inputs received, a decision is taken on content units. This is an inexpensive method for the company owning the space being moderated.

Distributed moderation

Here again, community members are provided with rating and/ or voting mechanisms to enable them to provide their inputs. It is expected that content voted low by visitors will gradually be pushed down to a point where they stop being visible. Again, inexpensive method but may not suit sensitive brands and portals.

It is generally accepted that pre-moderation is the most preferred form of moderation. If it needs to be moderated, it needs to be moderated before it is visible on the platform.

This is where automation and using AI for content moderation come into the picture. With automation and AI, it is possible to moderate content before it becomes visible. These tools are able to overcome some of the limitations of manual moderation, such as capacity, speed and cost, because of which many platforms resort to Post, Reactive or Distributed forms of moderation.

As a BPO focused on back-office services, including content moderation, oWorkers has been identified as one of the top three data services providers in the world. On more than one occasion.

 

Using AI for content moderation for different types of content

All content can be divided into Text, Audio, Image and Video content and all of these need to be moderated. It is not that moderation is reserved for any particular form of content. How can using AI for content moderation up the game for each of these formats?

Textual content

This might be the easiest type of content for a program to handle, as it is made up of defined characters in sequences. Software program codes are written as sequences of defined characters. Each character is unique and can be identified by the machine. Hence, at the basic level, machines can understand each of the characters that constitute a word, phrase or sentence.

The challenge, however, arises, when textual content is unstructured or contextual meaning is required to be understood. Machines cannot match the intuitive and contextual thinking power of human beings. Thankfully!

AI is now making inroads into areas that traditional software programming could not address. Using natural language processing (NLP) algorithms, it is becoming possible to do sentiment and emotion analysis on textual content, thereby creating perspective for the text to be placed in. These algorithms are able to identify fake news and even issue scamming alerts.

Images

While the human eye has the capacity to look at an image and assign meaning to it, for a machine, an image is merely a random collection of dots, or pixels, perhaps of different colors. It is unstructured information for a machine. The human eye and mind can work together to make sense of it, but not a machine. The question is – how does one get a machine or a program to make sense out of unstructured information?

With the rapidly evolving AI and ML (Machine Learning) industry, computer vision-based programs are being activated for seeking objectionable content. The AI engine, to become useful, has to undergo a long process of training with the help of ML. By feeding thousands and millions of images and connecting them to conclusions based on how a computer sees, or reads each image, creates the bedrock for using AI for content moderation for images. It reaches a point at which, when the next image comes in, which is not a training image any more, the AI engine is able to draw conclusions on its suitability based on what it has been taught. Combinations of text and images are also possible to interpret using a combination of techniques.

Audio

While humans can listen to an audio and understand the communication, a computer cannot. Computers can understand structured textual data to an extent, based upon which software programs are created. However, audio is beyond the ken of computers.

The first step is to convert the audio into text which computers have some hope of understanding. Here again, while advances have been made in NLP techniques for understanding spoken and contextual language, it is far from where the human mind is. However, converting and applying NLP processing techniques takes us to the same place as we are with textual content at which point techniques relevant for textual content will be applied..

Video

Video is the richest form of content, being a combination of audio and images or image frames processed so rapidly in sequence that they appear like a continuous playback to the human eye. How does a computer come close to the level of understanding that a human can draw from it?

There is a reason we are discussing video content in the end; after we have discussed text, audio and images. The reason is that all the techniques used in those formats of content will be applicable to videos as it is a composite of all. Image frames will be analysed with computer vision and AI. Textual and audio data will be analysed with NLP-based AI techniques. The one additional level of complexity that exists in video content is the information that is generated based on the changes that take place as the images progress. It is no longer a single image that has to be read in isolation. It is single images, along with the changes taking place from one to the next and then the next, along with audio in a manner that keeps time with the images.

oWorkers has been amongst the first to create an environment for its staff to work from home in times of the epidemic, as and when required. All staff can now operate fully either from home, or office, depending on the situation and preference. This ensures that clients are not left exposed on account of non-availability of resources.

 

A logical progression to AI

The basic issue being faced by companies is that there is just too much content being generated for any meaningful manual moderation exercise to be feasible. Hence, using AI for content moderation is no longer a choice. It is a necessity. It is now a question of how fast and how accurately we can build and train our AI engines to do it for us.

Of course, human intelligence and oversight will always be required. But the balance has to change with most of the heavy lifting being done by machines, with humans stepping in either to adjudicate on doubtful cases which machines are unable to decide on, or to periodically monitor and ensure that the machines are in line with expectations.

Our efforts have resulted in many youngsters being able to make a transition from their challenging circumstances to becoming a part of the global digital workforce. Your work will enable us to support a few more people to make the transition.

The Role of IT Business Process Outsourcing

The Role of IT Business Process Outsourcing

The Role of IT Business Process Outsourcing

Is IT the same as ITES?

IT is short for Information Technology, the ubiquitous activity that uses computing systems to create, store, process and exchange digital information, as well as the use of programs to process information. It is sometimes also referred to as a part of ICT, which stands for Information and Communications Technology which, together, have made sweeping changes to the world in the last few decades.

ITES stands for Information Technology Enables Services, which is also used as an alternate name for the Business process Outsourcing (BPO) industry.

Why is it referred to as ITES?

Perhaps the reason is that the industry rides on the backbone of IT and Telecommunications. In other words, it has been enabled by IT, without which it may not exist in the shape and form that we know of it. There is even a term that brings telecommunications and information technologies together; it is referred to as ICT, or Information and Communications Technology.

Hopefully, this clears the confusion, if any, between IT and ITES so that IT business process outsourcing does not end up being confused with or for ITES. If anything, for people who prefer to use ITES instead of BPO, as some tend to, it should be referred to as IT ITES. But as this again has the potential to create confusion, we will stick to the usage of IT BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) as the common term through this article.

Leveraging developments in IT, oWorkers offers data and back-office services in the BPO space. Despite being a new entrant with about 8 years of delivery experience behind us, we are already counted as one of the top three providers in our chosen area of work.

 

IT Outsourcing and IT Business Process Outsourcing

Information technology has evolved in leaps and bounds in the last half a century. It had been evolving rapidly even before that. At each stage it has appeared that momentous changes are taking place, unlike any that have taken place in the past. And we are still saying the same thing, which means that the pace of development has only been accelerating.

Many of the things we take for granted today, did not always exist.

The pocket calculator is only about 50 years old. As is the Intel microprocessor that opened the floodgates of the computing industry. Video games started with Pong and birthed a technology-based industry larger than music and movies put together. The first cell phone call was also made in the seventies. TCP, Ethernet and fiber optics came into being as well.

The eighties saw personal music taking off with the Sony Walkman introduced a year earlier. IBM introduced PCs. Lotus 1-2-3 came into being and became a hit as the PC’s killer application. People old enough to have used it still swear by it. Microsoft came into its own.

The World Wide Web, that has revolutionized everything since, came into being at the start of the nineties. SMS messages were exchanged for the first time, and Amazon was born. Netflix and Google were also founded in the late nineties.

The start of the 21st century brought forth more revolutions in technology. Social media became the thing with the launch of Facebook. YouTube and Twitter were also born a few years later.

There is no saying where we will be in ten years hence, such is the pace of technological change.

Companies have come to recognize the importance of technology in creating efficiencies and being competitive in the marketplace. This has given rise to IT business process outsourcing.

The partnerships we have forged with leading IT companies, gives us an edge in delivering on client projects. We are able to leverage the latest technologies for their work which they would otherwise have no access to. 85% of our clients are technology companies themselves.

Needless to add, we are ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) and operate with the highest standards of data security. We are also GDPR compliant.

 

IT business process outsourcing is one of many types

A company needs to run many processes, independent and inter connected, in its daily operations, whatever business it is in.

There will, of course, be the core around which it has been created. Each industry will have a different core. Insurance, aerospace, hardware, software, construction, education, retail, banking, are alle examples of unique industries. Each will have its own unique work and business processes designed to create value. The software industry, for example, would be informed about developments in software coding and be staffed with people who are adept at it. The banking industry would be informed about lending money to interested parties and evaluating their creditworthiness. And so on. Each core business could have business processes that are outsourced for various reasons.

At the same time, there are many processes the company has to run just because it is running a business in a competitive environment with external dependencies as well as being in a regulated jurisdiction. It needs to honor both these constituencies.

It needs the support of a human resources management team that is able to locate and hire suitable people, provide these resources with required training, while compensating them in a manner that is aligned with the rules that normally exist regarding minimum wages, work hours, retiral benefits, etc.

It needs accounting personnel to ensure that it is able to record the transactions being carried out and ongoing assessment of the profitability of the business. At the same time, it needs to pay taxes determined by the laws of the land, and file various reports and submissions as per the timelines specified.

There are several other functions that may have similar dependencies and requirements. While traditionally most of these have been carried out with internal resources, the evolution of business processing options has provided companies with more options. The major advantage being that the vendor is likely to be an expert in the area and ensure the client stays efficient as well as compliant. This could be an advantage especially for small companies that may not have the volumes to hire experts in each of these functions.

The ability to hire the best resources for all jobs sets oWorkers apart from its competitors. We are a preferred employer in all our delivery locations. This draws a steady stream of jobseekers to our offices, not only reducing our advertising cost but also giving us a choice in recruitment, which, often, BPOs do not have.

This also positions us to offer resources for short-term, unforeseen peaks in volume clients sometimes face. We can hire an additional hundred resources within 48 hours. This saves clients the trouble of maintaining a bench for such eventualities.

 

The need for IT business process outsourcing

IT functions that a company needs to carry out are no different.

With rapid digitization over the last few decades, digital technology has become an integral part of most businesses. Like someone said, today every business is a technology business, whether in the retail industry or manufacturing or banking or another.

It follows, therefore, that all companies have a dependency on this function for the smooth operation of their business, of course some more and some less. Again, no different from their dependency of HR and Finance and Legal and other functions that support their company.

Requirements could be many, starting from the simplest. Every business needs a website, for example. Even though it is not a legal requirement, it is considered to be a ‘proof of life’ of a business; that it exists. However, not every company or business is proficient at building and maintaining a website, even though hosting companies say that their tools make it easy to build one. Besides, there are ongoing adjustments that may need to be done because underlying technologies also keep upgrading and offering newer versions.

And again, on many occasions, the company may not be in a position to employ suitable or expert personnel in the IT area. A company may well need the support of an expert in the area to ensure that they have a website that is suitable and current.

This can be achieved in many different ways. The company could engage a task-based freelancer or time-based contractor. It could engage an IT staffing company for the resources or it could go to an IT company that delivers the services it requires.

oWorkers operates 24×7 from all its centers for clients who need those hours. We are also able to provide support in 22 languages, often a requirement in supporting large, global corporations with staff members around the globe.

Several global unicorn marketplaces already use our services to support their business.

 

IT services outsourced

Though it would vary with the needs of each outsourcer, there are a number of services that are selected by many companies for IT business process outsourcing.

Some of the popular ones outsourced are:

  • Software (or application) development
  • Web hosting and development
  • Application management and support
  • IT helpdesk and technical support
  • Database development and management
  • Data Center management
  • Email services
  • Cloud services
  • Digital and logical security management

This is not an exhaustive list. It is more indicative. Each B2B arrangement is unique.

With the guidance of a management team that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, oWorkers is constantly on the lookout for expanding our service portfolio. With the help of our employed staff, not contractors and freelancers preferred by a few competitors, we are able to upskill our employees for taking on newer roles. We pay social and local taxes for staff members. We are rated 4.6 (or more) on a 5-point scale, both by existing and former staff members.

 

IT business process outsourcing models

For achieving best results from any endeavour, such as outsourcing, arming oneself with knowledge about the possibilities could be a great starting point for eventual realization of the goals. This way, when one interacts with the external world, all players within which seeking to maximize value for themselves while serving you, one will start from a position of strength.

There are several models that have gained acceptance in the world of IT outsourcing that seem to work well for both the outsourcer as well as the partner.

Dedicated Team

Based on the scope agreed, the vendor puts together a team of competent resources that, together, is able to meet the client requirements. This model is, perhaps, as close as one can get to an inhouse solution where you control the resources and what they do. They could be full-time or part-time resources depending on the requirement of the project. The key thing here is that the resources are identified and interact directly with the client.

Since the team is individually identified, it lends continuity as the same people are involved day after day. It can also create a harmonious working relationship very similar to being in the same group or team. However, the effectiveness of this model increases over time and may not be suitable for short-term requirements.

Process Outsourcing

This could be considered as a purer form of outsourcing with the focus being on the tasks and outcomes and not on the team or people. The vendor takes over the complete responsibility for agreed deliverables for the in-scope products and services.

This model has been mostly adopted for requirements pertaining to software development and implementation where the requirement to work with the client team is occasional and not frequent. Its efficacy for other IT requirements is not yet uniformly accepted. Hence, if the primary requirement is application or software development, this could be a good model to choose. The client perhaps has less control over the development process, but then, he needs only the finished product.

Staff Augmentation

As the name indicates, this model enables expansion of your capacity through the provision of suitable resources that can work with your team. It essentially presupposes your capability of carrying out IT related work on your own. It supports you by obviating the need for you to manage the non-work aspects of your resources through the Staffing model. The vendor hires resources as per your specifications, or provides you resources they already have on board, and does all administrative work like hiring and compensation related activities.  

Thus, while you own the executions of all tasks, you have flexibility in terms of resources and can add or subtract as per requirements. In this model, apart from ensuring the quality of the resources offered to you, the credentials of the vendor also become relevant as the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of people working on your projects could be impacted by their professionalism, or lack of it.

 

In summary

The net result of our capabilities and efficiencies is that clients get an extremely competitive price. Not only that, we usually offer a choice between output and input based pricing to clients. Clients remember and talk about it for a long time.

The Impact of Financial Services Business Process Outsourcing

The Impact of Financial Services Business Process Outsourcing

The Impact of Financial Services Business Process Outsourcing

The term financial services conjures up images of mature, soberly-dressed executives, in a tastefully decorated, perhaps plush, office, speaking in hushed tones with customers either trying to help them get the best return out of their funds, or trying to secure suitable terms for a loan that they need to take out.

Financial services touch everyone’s life, money having become the central medium of exchange for all transactions. Even if not directly used for a purchase or sale, the value of an item being purchased or sold is denominated in terms of money. You may or may not use a car. You may or may not use toothpaste. But you cannot but use money.

With the human lot improving in the last hundred years, and wealth increasing, financial services have come to occupy a prominent place in our lives, leading to providers of financial services growing and prospering in tandem. With consumer franchises growing rapidly, the pace of financial services business process outsourcing has also been rapid, though at one point there was hesitation in outsourcing considering that the product of the industry is money, sensitive at the best of times where confidentiality is of utmost importance.

oWorkers is pleased to serve the financial services industry as well as it serves all others. Recognized as a top three provider in the world, it delivers best in class data based BPO services, its chosen area of work.

 

Financial Services versus Finance and Accounting

The terms financial services and finance and accounting can be confused with each other. Hence, it is important to differentiate between the two.

While both the disciplines manage money and work with money, they do it in different ways.

Financial Services manages money with a view to the future. For financial services professionals, money is a resource from which the benefit to its users, their clients, ought to be maximized. They advise customers on placing their money such that they get good returns while ensuring it is available to them when they need it. They also make loans, which, again, is a forward-looking activity, as they need to assess the borrower’s future prospects and repayment capacity.

Finance and Accounting focuses on recording and managing financial transactions that have transpired. Their objective is also to ensure the maximum benefit for the company going forward, but their working data set is past transactions. It has a strong element of compliance built in as most jurisdictions have a slew of laws governing recording and reporting of financial information.

Both Financial Services as well as Finance and Accounting could be working for a variety of clients, such as individuals, private corporations, governments, non-profit organizations. This illustrates the point made earlier, that everyone needs to deal with money.

While Financial Services attempts to analyze available data with a view to identifying future trends, Finance and Accounting understands and implements provisions of the various laws and rules that are applicable. In a way, Finance professionals analyze the financial statements that are prepared by the Accounting professionals.

It is important to understand these differences because we will go into greater depths of financial services business process outsourcing and not Finance and Accounting BPO.

With its deep connections in local communities, oWorkers is recognized as a preferred employer. It received a regular stream of walk-in applicants looking for roles. This enables oWorkers to select the best candidates for all client projects.

 

Types of financial services organizations

Financial Services is not a homogeneous business or industry. It is a huge industry containing several sub-industries within itself. Each one of these businesses have distinct needs that are fulfilled through financial services business process outsourcing.

Commercial Banking

This is perhaps the side of financial services that we, as common people, are most aware of. Commercial Banks take money from customers, or depositors, enabling them to earn interest. Rates vary based on the type of deposit instrument chosen. Commercial Banks also lend money to customers, known as borrowers. These banks generate high volumes of transactions and customer interactions. While the advent of digitization has reduced the burden of manual processing, it has not been eliminated. Besides, volumes and products have been growing.

Being a mature industry, many of its processes are established, including the management of risk because of which commercial banks are able to outsource work which is done manually but has established processes and controls. This also allows banks to focus on their core constituency, the customers, as well as the challenges that new technologies invariably introduce.

A provider could be handling customer service calls or making calls to collect payments on overdue student loans. It could be keying in information from manually filled forms to open accounts or checking for consistency in electronically filled ones. There are many ways BPO providers support commercial banks.

Often clients experience unplanned variation in volumes. oWorkers, thanks to its positioning, is able to handle spikes by hiring an additional hundred people within 2 days, saving significant cost for clients who would otherwise need to retain an unproductive bench for such situations.

Financial services business process outsourcing in Capital Markets

Capital Markets comprise the marketplaces created to enable trading of financial instruments. These markets give liquidity to the instruments and enable participants to buy and sell based on their need as well as their view of the future price of the instrument. The stock market and foreign exchange market are some of the well-known such marketplaces and tend to operate out of the major financial centers of the world although with digitization, transactions are no longer limited to a defined physical space. It is further divided into the ‘primary’ market where new securities are issued and the ‘secondary’ market where existing securities are traded.

Suppliers of funds to capital markets are organizations such as pension funds and insurance companies that generate cash and need to deploy it profitably, while users are typically businesses and governments with need for long-term funding for infrastructural and long gestation projects.

Participants seek support from BPOs in handling transactions and plugging revenue leakage in a compliant manner, while providing easy dashboards to monitor performance.

The unique model of oWorkers, of offering a choice to clients between an output based or input based pricing, is a differentiator that many clients seem to love. They also routinely note savings of up to 80% when outsourcing to oWorkers.

Wealth Management

As the name perhaps suggests, Wealth Management is the business of handling the financial needs of clients who could be classified as affluent. While commercial banking processes rely on offering products such as times deposits, checking accounts and others, Wealth Management adopts a consultative approach and seeks to maximize the returns for the investor as well as facilitate the achievement of his/ her goals. It is a personalized approach where the consultant typically does not take the money and lend it onwards to earn, as banks do, but earns a commission either based on the amount the client offers for management known as assets under management (AUM), or as commission from the transactions in other securities performed on behalf of the client.

Wealth Managers often cover a wide range of disparate services and might involve close coordination with providers of legal services, estate planners, accounting and taxation, for best results. It could encompass all aspects of the client’s life that have a financial angle.

Keeping track of the transactions of clients, where each has a different need and approach, can be an onerous task, especially doing so at costs that make the business competitive. Financial services business process outsourcing providers offer support in accounting as well as revenue assurance through fee management while ensuring compliance.

With its ability to provide support in 22 languages, oWorkers can support clients from anywhere in the world while engaging with providers and suppliers anywhere around the world.

Investor services

With the establishment of marketplaces for trading, interest in investing in financial instruments has been steadily rising. While a marketplace customer might see only the buying and selling price of the securities he is interested in, there is a lot of backroom work that goes into making the marketplace an easy place to navigate for him. It requires correspondence and alerts to be triggered. Account opening requests need to be handled. Capital call announcements have to be tracked at each individual investor level. Anti-Money Laundering guidelines as well as global enforcement lists have to be monitored and complied with. Performance reports need to be prepared and sent out.

A provider specializing in these activities can enable the organization to stay focused on its business, whether it is a Mutual Fund or any corporation with a large base of retail investors.

Onboarding a financial services business process outsourcing partner can simplify the transaction processing and management of customers and help clients open up new business opportunities.

oWorkers understand the sensitivity of financial information. It operates out of secure facilities that are ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certified. It is also GDPR compliant, which is a requirement, as it operates from the Eurozone.

Insurance

Even though it is an independent industry, insurance is often also spoken of as a part of the financial services industry, with the expanded version known as Banking, Financial Services and Insurance. Hence, a brief mention of insurance will not be out of place here.

Insurance, as we know, is a risk-pooling concept through which contributors, or policy-holders, get covered for risk based on the payment of their pooled contribution, or premium. The insurance company provides the cover based on their evaluation of the probability of occurrence.

It is generally viewed as a sum of its two major parts:

Life Insurance – that deals with your life under which an insurer agrees to pay out an agreed sum to the beneficiaries either upon your death or upon the completion of an agreed period of time.

Property and Casualty (P&C) Insurance – that deals with damage to your material possessions as well as for your responsibility in causing damage to the person or material possessions of others

Insurance has its own unique processing requirements, from assessment of risk of an event transpiring that leads to establishment of premia to a review and decision on claims made by policyholders. In between are all the administrative functions like proposal submission, policy issuance, premium collection, etc. Clearly, there are a number of areas where an insurance business benefits from the support of a financial services business process outsourcing partner.

Anything can happen any time. All centers of oWorkers are equipped to operate on a 24×7 basis, to offer continuous support. Our employees are also equipped to work from home or office, depending on rules enforced based on the pandemic situation.

 

Services offered by BPO providers

A summary of the more common services is presented here.

Customer Service

With specialized technologies and solutions, BPO providers bring a professional approach in handling customer queries, often through a multi-channel contact strategy.

The staff being employees, and not freelancers and contractors, as preferred by some of their competitors, gives oWorkers an edge while handling customer servicing needs of clients.

Account Opening

Bulk processing of both manual and automated account opening transactions enhance efficiency and reduce costs. Many processes, especially those that deal with retail customers, have large volumes, like Credit Card issuance, and consume resources.

With a global client base, oWorkers is able to offer an overnight turnaround for critical processes like account opening. By the time the client steps into the office the next morning, the completed job is sitting in their inbox.

Data Capture

Many processes continue to be manual and need to be translated to the organization’s systems through data entry.

With their partnership with major tech companies, oWorkers brings the latest technologies into play while working on client projects.

Document scanning/ imaging and processing

Documentation being a key element in all financial service businesses, the accurate conveyance of the same becomes critical. While the processing need not be done in the customer centers, the documents, through scanning and imaging technologies, do need to be conveyed to the processing centers without much delay.

oWorkers follows the practice of registering as a local company wherever it delivers from. It pays social and local taxes for its employees.

Business Support Services

A financial services business is also a business and subject to the rules and laws of the jurisdiction it operates in. It needs to file returns and pay taxes, it needs to comply with workplace safety requirements and it needs to abide by the minimum wage stipulations. It can seek all these services from either a financial service business process outsourcing partner or through a specialist BPO provider.

Collections

Lending is an important part of financial services, especially commercial banks. Whenever you lend money, there is some uncertainty about getting the money back. For consumer loans in particular, it requires a large machinery to be in place to be able to follow up with a large number of small borrowers to ensure the payments are made in time.

Despite the often difficult jobs they need to do, oWorkers employees, both past and present, rate them 4.6 and above on independent platforms like Glassdoor.

Claim processing and adjudication

While this is an insurance specific service, it nevertheless occupies an important place on account of both the volumes as well as the sensitivity with which it needs to be handled. A claim arises when a dreaded event has happened, hence the sensitivity. Providers trained to handle such claims can take this burden off the outsourcer.

With their strong screening processes and focus on education and IQ and EQ, the oWorkers teams are able to handle sensitive subjects like Collections and Claims processing with care.

Platform services

With the rising comfort with outsourcing and providers processing huge volumes, they have the capacity to invest in better technologies and processes. In a reverse flow of sorts, they are able to offer this processing power to their clients.

With a leadership team that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, oWorkers is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to create value for clients.

The Best Business Outsourcing Process

The Best Business Outsourcing Process

The Best Business Outsourcing Process

Business process outsourcing is an established global industry. Companies around the world are constantly on the lookout for leveraging the opportunities offered by the industry and creating value for their company. At the same time, outsourcing providers are constantly on the lookout for new and improved services and products they can offer in an effort to increase revenues and get a deeper share of the customer’s wallet.

And that is perhaps as it should be in any industry.

But what about the business outsourcing process? Do you, and this is more from the outsourcer’s perspective, ever give a thought to the process of outsourcing? How do you go about the process of ensuring that your identified business process is outsourced in a manner that creates the value that was envisaged before it was implemented?

As a creator of value for your business, it needs to be done like any other business activity, with care and deliberation, with defined goals and responsibilities and effectively and efficiently making the best use of company resources, in order to get the best outcomes.

Different companies may have different priorities while outsourcing work and different methods for handling the business outsourcing process. Selecting the right vendor is often the focus of effort for many outsourcers. However, there is a lot more that needs to be done, both before and after the vendor is identified. Without adequate attention to each of these steps, the end result could be sub-optimal. As an outsourcer, that would be a value destroyer, not creator.

Being a deliberate, planned activity, outsourcing needs to be handled in a thought-through manner, right from the inception of the idea. While each project may have unique elements, underlined below are 10 steps that are likely to be common in all, taking the engagement to the point where delivery has been initiated by the vendor. While the process outlined below assumes the existence of a separate outsourcing provider, even if the outsourcing was to be done to another unit of the same company or another company within the same group, the same process and rules should be followed for best results.

 

Requirement identification should initiate the business outsourcing process

It is probably a good idea and working well for some of your competitors. But that cannot be the reason for you to outsource. As found in many cases where B2B engagements have failed, the issue was with the client (buyer) not being clear about their requirement resulting in engaging an unsuitable supplier, rather than a lack of capability or interest on part of the supplier. ‘What are they buying? Why are they buying? What problem will it solve? What value will it add?’ are some of the questions that should be addressed before any attempt at letting the marketplace know of your intentions.

Identification of the need is usually a good place to start.

Identification of the need would include identifying the business process or processes that are sought to be outsourced, with an effort at reaching agreement on it within the organization.

Along with the process being identified, the reason for the outsourcing as well as the benefits expected should be articulated and agreed upon. This provides a baseline against which future results can be measured. The volume of work to be outsourced should be estimated and the timelines for initiating the process defined.

If the organization wishes to define any overarching conditions, such as ‘we will look for a provider within 100 miles’ or ‘we will have the final say on the people selected by the vendor,’ this would be a good time to do so. As it is for specifying the selection criteria for a vendor.

oWorkers has established itself as a leading provider of BPO services in the short period of 8 years. It is now recognized as a top three provider in its segment of data-based BPO services globally. If you have a requirement, we have a solution for it.

 

Seeking interest from potential providers

Having thus achieved clarity in the organization regarding the outsourcing initiative, at this stage of the business outsourcing process, the work involving external parties needs to be initiated. You cannot be sitting all dressed up in your home but nobody comes to the party as nobody knows about it. Since an outsourcing services provider is your target partner, this is the time to make it known to that community that you are in the market for an outsourcing partner.

This can be done in several ways:

  • Look up prospective vendors through directories like Yellow Pages, or online, and inform them individually about your requirement. They will respond if interested.
  • Advertise in trade circles, especially if you are a part of them.
  • Issue a Request for Proposal (RFP). This is the process preferred by large enterprises. An RFP is a standardised proposal form where you specify the information you are looking for from interested parties based on which you will be able to evaluate. Develop your requirements in the form of an RFP (Request for proposal) even if you don’t formally issue one. This should ideally cover:
    • Overview of the project
    • Objective for outsourcing and what you seek to achieve
    • Type of data and file formats
    • Annotations required and rules defining the services
    • Specifications for human resources for the project, including domain knowledge requirement
    • Timelines and volume
  • Reach out directly to vendors who may be providing similar services to competitors.

We are always ready. With our ability to attract fresh talent, being a preferred employer in our delivery locations, we have boundless energy and appetite for your work. We routinely get feedback scores of more than 4.6, on a scale of 5, on platforms like Glassdoor, from both past and present employees.

 

Shortlisting vendors

If, at this stage, the response from the provider community is inadequate or absent, you may need to go back to the drawing board and introspect and review the terms and conditions you have set out. Perhaps they were too strict for vendors to be interested in.

If you are flooded with responses from prospective vendors, you should make an attempt to shortlist based on the criteria you had specified, in order to make it manageable. As a B2B evaluation process is often tortuous and lengthy, the longer the list the greater the resource consumption in evaluation.

If, however, after repeated attempts you don’t have vendors interested, you may even need to drop the idea and look for alternate solutions.

Our existing clients save up to 80% when they outsource to us. The same opportunity is available to all clients. Our pricing is transparent, with a choice of per hour or per output unit pricing.

 

Detailed discussion and evaluation

This is where the detailed discussions will happen and both parties will be required to share information. In most B2B cases, this will be preceded by the execution of a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which binds both parties to treating the information received as confidential and enjoins them to ensure it is handled with the utmost care. This is the stage where the potential vendor will make a case for being selected, scope of services will be discussed, including indicative pricing. Based on the NDA, a peek ‘under the hood’ of each other’s automobiles would be taken to understand each other’s processes and systems better for an informed stab at assessing ‘fitment’ and ‘compatibility’ and ‘suitability.’

A recommended list of capabilities and attributes to look for in a partner:

  • Prior experience
  • Quality and accuracy
  • Speed and turnaround
  • Pricing
  • Multilingual capability
  • Technology and Data Security
  • Scalability and access to human resources
  • Financial health and management support

oWorkers has been a consistently profitable enterprise. It pays local and social taxes for its employees and is deeply rooted in the communities it operates in.

  • Shortlist down to 1, with a backup

The result of the evaluation process will be your order of preferred vendors for the engagement. You will know which one is your ideal partner and who is second best. This would be arrived at after detailed discussions, site visits, interacting with staff members, exploring combinations, negotiating on price and service levels.

As the engagement is not final yet, it is advisable to retain the other vendors on the shortlist and not turn them away. This is because there is ‘many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip.’ If a contract with the primary vendor does not materialize, you might be left with no option other than starting the process all over again.

Being ISO (27001 and 9001) certified, oWorkers leverages the best technologies for client projects, through its partnership with leading providers. Staff and technology are the twin backbones of the industry.

 

Finalize terms and sign contract

The business outsourcing process requires that a formal agreement be executed based on mutually acceptable terms and conditions.

While responsible and successful BPO organisations offering these services will work hard to ensure client satisfaction, it must be remembered that, at the end of the day, they are running their own business first. That business is likely to involve the provision of similar services to many other clients and cannot be expected to look out for your requirements above every other client.

So, how do we ensure that the services provided to us are not putting our business at a disadvantage?

This can be ensured by entering into a contract with the vendor that clearly defines your major requirements and expectations against each.

What are some of the terms that a contract should cover?

  • Terms should be defined so that differences do not arise on account of interpretation
  • Deliverables and obligations of each party involved, especially the hand-offs from one to the other, and the point at which each party’s responsibility begins and ends
  • Term (Tenure) of contract with conditions and process for engagement, disengagement, premature termination, extension and change management
  • Payment terms, price, credit period, liability for taxes, and penalty, if any
  • Defining the unit of work, FTE hour, units produced, or some other
  • The nature of services to be performed and the parameters must be specified in detail, including performance during the “ramp” phase and duration of such phase
  • Process of taking on resources, including their qualification and experience, as well as assessments that need to be cleared
  • The steps for escalation of a dispute/ issues, with the hierarchy for resolving disputes at each stage; arbitration arrangement as well as jurisdiction of courts
  • The various technical requirements like hardware, facilities and the systems requirements required to provide the services and who would provide
  • The hours of operation and the Time Zone to be followed for providing the services, including Seat Utilisation, holidays and rules for holidays
  • Handling of impact of events outside control, like Exchange Rate movement, or a natural catastrophe
  • Nature and frequency of reports and MIS to be provided

These are, as always, guidelines, and should form the basis for developing the unique set of terms required for the service.

oWorkers can often go beyond agreed contractual terms. We possess the flexibility to ramp up and ramp down, by a hundred headcount in 48 hours, to handle unforeseen, and hence uncontracted, spikes. This can be a huge money-saver for clients who would otherwise need to maintain a bench.

 

Implementation of Project Plan – a key step in the business outsourcing process

If this has not been done at the contracting stage, the parties will develop and agree on an Implementation Plan which defines the steps each of them must take to reach a steady state. In other words, reach a point at which the activities envisaged in the contract are running at the expected level. The timelines are also defined in the Implementation Plan.

Some Project Plans include a Trial Run designed to create comfort for the outsourcer. This would be done based on established criteria for success or failure.

 

Team identification, training and ramp support

The vendor will need to identify the team that will support activities under this contract while the outsourcer will arrange the initial training. Vendor support teams will start playing their regular roles for this project as well. Technical handshakes required will also be made.

With an emphasis on a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic work environment, oWorkers supports clients in over 22 languages across their three global centers.

 

Begin work, test and then go full steam

Work begins. If volumes are large, there is a ramp-up generally provided for in the Project Plan. Staring slowly, the work gradually ramps up to handle the agreed volumes.

With a management team with over 20 years of hands-on experience leading from the front, with oWorkers, clients have access to decision makers at the first step itself.

 

Ongoing monitoring

Once the work has been kicked off by the vendor, the outsourcer now needs to ensure that the contract is delivering on its promise. Hence, while the earlier steps in the business outsourcing process thus far would need to be done once, the process of engagement and monitoring is an ongoing one and will need to be done for ever, or till the contract runs.

The contract entered into earlier would have defined the scope of the MIS and reports that the vendor would deliver which would constitute the bulk of the monitoring, including taking corrective steps as and when required. In addition, outsourcers like to periodically satisfy themselves that the vendor systems for collecting and sharing MIS are reliable, as the outsourcer’s business depends on them to function smoothly.

And lastly, business always seeks value. The world changes, new developments come into existence, new processes emerge. The strategic think tank of the outsourcer should always be on the lookout for other options of doing it better or differently.

Why?

The reason is the same. For continuing to add value to their business.

It must be noted that with QA (Quality Assurance) and QC (Quality Control) processes that represent the client and aim to detect and resolve errors, oWorkers consistently delivers over 98% accuracy. This is across varied processes and varied measurement systems and scales.

Overview of the business process outsourcing industry

Overview of the business process outsourcing industry

Overview of the business process outsourcing industry

If we hark back to prehistoric times, when man was a ‘hunter gatherer’ as we are told by historians, it seems tasks were divided between people who made up a group or tribe. People who would go hunting, usually men, would bring back the spoils and hand them over to the folks remaining back in the settlement, usually women and children, and the elderly. They would then carry out the task of cleaning and preparing and cooking the meat for consumption, and add to it through their own gathering efforts.

Why did they do it this way? Why did the men not clean and prepare and cook the meat themselves? Why did the women and children not go and hunt on their own?

Perhaps they identified their own unique skill sets and divided up the work so that the group as a whole would benefit. In a way, women and children outsourced the hunting to men and men outsourced the cleaning and cooking to the children and women.

The point being made is that outsourcing is not a modern invention, as some detractors seem to argue. It is as old as mankind. Man has always explored opportunities for creating efficiency. One solution that has been implemented since time immemorial is that of sharing the workload based on who can do it best or what creates the greatest value for the group as a whole.

It could be done to create efficiency and value in our day-to-day lives. It could also be done to create efficiency in what we define as our ‘work’ or ‘business’ activities. Since the joint stock corporation, with a separate identity of its own, had not been invented, there was little distinction between ‘personal’ and ‘business’ lives. Hence, it follows that the outsourced activities, or processes, applied as much to their ‘business’ as to their ‘personal’ lives.

This division of work and creation of efficiency and value is the principle the business process outsourcing industry is based on. It is also referred to as the BPO industry.

It refers to a B2B engagement, between two businesses, based on which business process activities of one are taken on by the other, with an overarching set of contractual conditions under which they would be performed. In other words, activities and tasks that could have been done in-house by the principal, or client, are outsourced to the vendor, or partner, as they are better placed to perform them in an efficient, value-accretive manner.

New age providers like oWorkers have added a new dimension to the industry. Already counted as one of the top three providers in the world, in its chosen line of work, that of data related BPO services, oWorkers has delighted clients from around the world in its eight years of existence.

 

Business process outsourcing industry – evolution

Though we have looked at the historical, even pre-historic perspective of process outsourcing, since our context is business let us discuss the evolution of the industry in those specific terms.

As we know, business always seeks value as it seeks to expand its scope and return more profits to its owners, in the free market that a business generally operates in and one that prevails in most geographies today.

Cost reduction being one of the two major starting points, revenue enhancement being the other, of the journey that leads to enhanced profits, is always a focus area. Outsourcing business processes contributes to the cost-reduction of the industry, which is one of the major efficiencies realized by the outsourcing company. While this is a simplistic view, and there are many more variables in the real world, including both additional advantages as well as some challenges that we will touch upon later, this should serve the purpose of illustration.

With growth of consumer franchises and as companies started feeling the heat of competition, the quest for efficiencies in processing began in real earnest. While the timeline is not definite, the period after the second world war when business and industry flourished, is broadly the time when this quest led to the adoption of an outsourcing strategy.

The early version, as always, was fairly simple. It essentially entailed the identification of non-customer facing functions of the company and moving them out of expensive high-street or downtown real estate into less expensive properties. This saved cost in some cases, and created revenue enhancement opportunities in others, and even both in a few situations. With relocation to less expensive sites also came the additional benefit of access to employees from a pool that would be less expensive.

With that humble start, the business process outsourcing industry has never looked back. The hunger of business for value has propelled it to keep pushing boundaries, both in the metaphorical as well as the physical sense. From the ‘nearby’ inexpensive sites companies first pushed the city boundary, locating business processes to smaller towns and cities that were not far away. State boundaries were pushed next, with the development and growth of air travel, which made transporting people as well as goods and documents much quicker. 

Around this time, with the scale that the industry had acquired, the BPO company came into being. So far, most process outsourcing was handled by units within the company, just located and staffed differently from the rest of the company. The BPO company could be a specialist in a particular area of outsourcing, such as Contact Center work, or it could offer a basket of services. The emergence of BPO providers perhaps was a major step in the emergence of the industry as one. Many companies found value in engaging a third-party provider over hiving it off as a unit within the company.

We know that the growth of telecommunications and the internet took the industry to the far corners of the world, as long as there was value to be found. With increase in volumes and concerns over security, some companies have gone back to the old model of in-house processing. The only difference this time is that most of them are choosing to outsource to a separate company, but controlled within their business group, unlike earlier when the processing might have been done within the same company.

oWorkers is led by a team of professionals with over 20 years of hands-on experience. With business being increasingly global, oWorkers is able to provide support in 22 languages. This is a result of a conscious multi-ethnic and multi-cultural human resources policy followed since its inception.

 

From evolution to evaluation – of benefits

In a competitive world, it is unlikely that an industry will grow and prosper if it does not create value for its clients. Clients, or customers, who pay for products and services, are the final word on the relevance of a business.

The business process outsourcing industry has grown tremendously in the last few decades and continues to go from strength to strength. Hence, that id does not deliver value can be nobody’s case. It has to be conceded, though, that there are some limitations in the manner of its operation that need to be recognized by outsourcers.

Given below is an evaluation of the main pros and cons of the industry:

It delivers cost savings to its clients, with its ability to operate from low-cost real estate as well as less expensive resources.

Its ability to aggregate volumes across multiple clients gives it the heft to not only invest in technology, but also process improvement. The improvements benefit both the client and vendor.

oWorkers has consistently delivered over 99% levels of accuracy, measured across different clients, different processes, different scales and different measuring systems.

With the help of its strong relationship with major technology providers, oWorkers can leverage the latest in technology for delivery on client projects, something they themselves will not be in a position to do.

BPO operators set themselves up with the flexibility to operate on a 24×7 basis. This gives them an extended window of work enabling faster processing. Turnarounds are often also expedited by locating delivery in a time zone which is the opposite of the client, so that processing is done while he sleeps, and the output is ready when he wakes up.

BPOs are able to access resource pools that clients would perhaps never discover. These talent pools are usually less qualified and experienced, making them less expensive. BPOs leverage a strong training capability to get them ready for client work.

With its positioning as a preferred employer, oWorkers is sought out by job seekers for employment. This not only creates a steady supply of talent, it also enables oWorkers to hire for short-term volume peaks that clients occasionally encounter, without the need to retain an idle bench which costs money to clients. At present they have the capacity to hire almost a hundred additional resources within 48 hours.

BPO operators are instrumental in distributing and sharing economic benefits with less privileged communities, where they usually gravitate to, for their delivery centers. This way, jobs flow from the richer to the poorer communities around the world, reducing disparity and inequality.

A corollary of the above is that they are job creators, which is why political leaders and administrators try to get them to set up facilities in their geographies.

oWorkers operates in three distinct geographies around the world. They pay social and local taxes for their staff and are contributing members of local communities. All centers are equipped to operate 24×7 for clients that need the service.

Specialization leads to greater efficiency. Companies can focus on their core competencies while outsourcing supporting activities to BPO providers that specialize in that activity, raising efficiency all around.

 

Limitations that need to be borne in mind

Blessings are never unmixed, as they say. So is the case with the business process outsourcing industry as well.

While it creates jobs in many places, they often come at the cost of jobs in some other place where the work is being done. This creates, perhaps, the strongest opposition to the industry.

Client work enables oWorkers to employ a few more people from the less fortunate communities we work with, and give them an entry ticket to the digital economy of the world. Hopefully, this is a step in the right direction in making the world more equal and inclusive.

Business information is sacred and valuable. Engaging a partner requires sharing confidential information of the business. While providers commit to the security of data, processes and systems are never foolproof.

With its strong technological moorings, including ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certification as well as GDPR compliance, oWorkers provides as safe an environment as any for security of data. Physical segregation through access control is also possible.

The brand of the client could be compromised, especially when the vendor handles processes that have an element of customer interaction, such as call centers.

The net benefit accruing to the outsourcer needs to be taken into account. While many clients often report savings of almost 80% when they engage oWorkers as a process outsourcing partner, the choice between input-based and output-based pricing offered by oWorkers is found interesting and unique by clients.

 

Business process outsourcing industry – business types

There are many classification methods; by location, by industry (vertical) and by function (horizontal) being the most common. With the focus on specialization, functional classification is gradually emerging as the preferred method.

The industry can be understood as a composite of many sub-industries.

Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO)

Outsourcing processing activities that are knowledge intensive is referred to as KPO or knowledge process outsourcing. KPO activities could range from market research to management of data to analytics and insights based on data to generation of MIS and reports. It could apply to a wide range of industries such as healthcare, financial services and aerospace.

Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO)

The act of a company taking ongoing legal support from a legal firm, instead of hiring in-house counsel, is referred to as legal process outsourcing. Document review, writing, drawing up contracts, drafting of briefs and pleadings and patent services are some of the more commonly used services through LPO. There could be limitations in certain cases that require physical presence, if the provider is located offshore.

Human Resource Outsourcing (HRO)

Being a job for a specialist, with knowledge of rules and regulations governing employees and working conditions, HRO takes away this responsibility from a business and keeps it safe from non-compliance, apart from, of course, taking over the administrative burden of the job,

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

SCM covers the flow of goods and services across the entire chain, from source to final consumption. Supply chains have also gone global with businesses doing so, requiring a navigation of the laws of many lands and working through entry and exit formalities.

Sourcing and Procurement

Being a support function, procurement often suffers from a lack of management attention. Probably related is its reputation as a cesspool of murky dealings. By outsourcing, it gets managed by a company for whom it is a source of revenue and main business, resulting in processes and technologies that promote efficiency.

Finance & Accounting (F&A)

In addition to being the common thread that ties all activities of a company together, F&A BPOs go over and beyond and contribute in many different ways such as providing intelligent financial information and tracking money trails enhancing realization efficiency.

Data entry

Despite its image as the most basic and simple service, data entry continues to be in demand. Not only are legacy records still being converted, many new services are also delivered over non-digital channels requiring a bridge between the two in the form of data entry.

AI enablement services

AI is seen as the next technological frontier that will push the human story a step further. However, to get there a significant amount of manual effort is required. Who better than the BPO industry to do that manual work?

Content moderation

A direct result of our current obsession with social media, moderation is required so that people and communities around the world can be kept safe from unwelcome, unwholesome and plainly unacceptable content. It is now a staple service of the business process outsourcing industry.

How does Medical Business Process Outsourcing help?

How does Medical Business Process Outsourcing help?

How does Medical Business Process Outsourcing help?

The pandemic that set upon the world in the first quarter of 2020 has, invariably, left behind many lessons and things to think about. One of them is the crucial role medical workers have come to play in our lives. With sedentary lifestyles, poor eating habits and limited physical activity, despite rising longevity of the human race, many people depend on the medical profession for survival and well-being.

Times like the pandemic stretch the available medical resources, with many people needing attention at the same time. We don’t have man to man cover for all human beings, do we? Apart from the fact that this is a message for us to take better care of our health, it also brings home the message of our dependence on the medical professionals, many of whom have gone beyond the call of normal duty in handling cases during this emergency.

Since we know that we have a dependency on them in a matter as critical as our health, would we not want them to be attending to the medical situations faced by the human race? 

The answer is obvious. Yes.

This is where medical business process outsourcing, or medical BPO, plays an important role. It is also referred to as healthcare business process outsourcing or healthcare BPO. Though some are of the opinion that healthcare is a wider term than medical, and includes the non-medical components of healthcare as well, medical BPO and healthcare BPO have come to be used interchangeably.

oWorkers is an established provider of data related BPO services that encompasses the medical industry as well. It is recognized as one of the three best providers globally.

 

How does medical BPO enable medical professionals to focus on their core job?

In a regulated environment, in order to be of greatest value to the largest number of beneficiaries, each person and organization has to carry out many activities and processes that may not be core to their particular profession or industry, but, in the larger scheme of things, are indispensable.

Take billing for example. The medical industry does not run on love and fresh air. It needs money. People who use the services of the industry need to pay for them either themselves or through their insurance plans. This compensates the professionals and organizations and provides them the resources to continue providing their services.

However, for billing related activities, one does not need to be a trained doctor or nurse. It can be done by a non-medical professional with perhaps knowledge of the basic operation of the organization as well as that of accounting and software applications. By engaging such professionals and outsourcing activities to them that do not require using up the limited supply of medical professionals, we free up medical professionals for their core work which is what we need them for. We enable them to focus on the patient, the reason for their existence.

Western Europe and US based clients of oWorkers routinely talk about savings of up to 80% when they outsource to oWorkers. Thus, while partnering with oWorkers clients not only gain business value, but also save on cost.

 

Other benefits of medical business process outsourcing

While the separation of the administrative requirements of providing medical services might be a core enabler, there are several others that power the two industries, the outsourcing medical and healthcare industry as well as the vendor medical BPO industry.

Access to specialists

We want access to the best medical specialists when we have a need, whether it is a coronary condition or a dental issue, don’t we? With the best advice, guidance and care, we stand the best chance of recovery.

Why should the organizations and professionals who provide the most specialized medical services to us be deprived of accessing the specialized services that they need?

What specialists do they need?

As professionals and as organizations they need to comply with the many requirements of a governed civil society. They need to pay taxes. They need to file regulatory returns. They need to maintain patient data and records. They need to hire staff for working. They need to comply with laws of the land such as minimum wages and retiral benefits. And many, many others.

Many of these activities, if outsourced, can be performed better by specialists in the respective areas.

oWorkers takes it a step further and extends the access to specialists 24×7, if the client needs it. They are equipped to provide 24×7 support from all their global delivery centers.

Cost reduction

Senior management generally focus on revenue generation and customers, and look at cost during troubled times with a view to reduce it. In the day-to-day activities of an organization, the costs incurred by the support activities do not get the same attention as the revenue and customer side activities.

Besides, the support services continue to operate on the policies that have been set up for the primary business of the organization, healthcare in this case.

Engagement of a medical business process outsourcing supplier shifts the paradigm. The supplier runs it like a business and is interested in doing it efficiently. They are free to hire resources that are more suitable, rather than relying on the hiring done by recruiters who are more geared for hiring medical professionals. They can also move the service delivery location to more cost-effective places, where possible. It is understood that some services may need to be co-located with the medical service site.

Clients from anywhere find the oWorkers pricing mechanism attractive. oWorkers offers two competing pricing methods, one where the price is based on agreed inputs, such as manhours, and the other where it is based on agreed output, such as units produced, with the client having the final choice.

Innovation and investment

Investment in innovation and improvement, generally, is directed at revenue and customer side operations, with support services keeping up as best as they are able to. This often results in inefficiencies creeping into the processes.

When a partner gets involved, what happens is that the cost of the outsourcer becomes the revenue stream of the partner. Hence, the partner is now interested in doing it better, more efficiently while keeping it growing. This brings in innovation and focus on improvement, resulting in doing more with less, with benefits being distributed across the various participants in the process, including the outsourcer.

oWorkers is an ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified provider. It is also GDPR compliant. At the cutting edge of new technologies with the help of its partnerships with leading tech providers, oWorkers brings the most appropriate technologies into the picture for client work, that they would otherwise not have access to.

 

Medical business process outsourcing – core services

What are some of the services that healthcare BPOs are able to provide?

Medical Data Entry

Though considered to be at the bottom of the food chain, data entry, nevertheless, is important in the medical ecosystem as it is an enabler for many other processes and serves to unify information. If information of a patient is not keyed in, and keyed in correctly, many other dependent technologies will not be able to work their magic. It caters to many different elements in addition to patient information that are currently not available digitally, such as laboratory reports, surgical treatment records, .

Handwritten prescriptions of doctors are also covered by this service, though, as a manual transcription service, it exists as an independent service as well, with physician handwritten prescriptions, forming a significant chunk of the work.

oWorkers, with its multi-cultural and multi-ethnic teams, is equipped to support clients in over 20 global languages. Whatever be the language of the original script, we will help you convert it to a common standard and system. The doctor does not need to speak English.

Indexation of medical records

There are different requirements for the maintenance of different types of records. Most business and financial records need to be available for a defined period, generally not exceeding ten years in most jurisdictions.

Healthcare records, however, are generally required for much longer. A patient’s history as a child may have a bearing on the discovery and treatment of a tumor that has developed in late life. This places a premium on the storage and retrievability of medical records over a long period.

Apart from patient history, the records could be of a wide variety, such as prescriptions and diagnosis at various stages, lab reports, insurance related data, charts, clinical history, etc.

This is where indexation services offered by a medical business process outsourcing partner help us in storing and retrieving historical data. While familiarity with the medical domain is required, no training or qualification is.

There are many methods of indexation, such as by record type, by Medical Record Number (MRN) and Social Security Number (SSN), to name a few. With detailed knowledge of plans, processes and methods, the trained staff of oWorkers is able to deliver superior outcomes.

Medical Coding

According to the American Academy of Professional Coders, “Medical coding is the transformation of healthcare diagnosis, procedures, medical services, and equipment into universal medical alphanumeric codes. The diagnosis and procedure codes are taken from medical record documentation, such as transcription of physician’s notes, laboratory and radiologic results, etc.”

Medical coding is a critical activity for generating population health analytics and maintaining information related to disease and treatment, leading to creation of management and intervention strategies for improved outcomes.

It also plays a significant role in the communication between hospitals and insurers and facilitates the process of reaching a decision on the claim.

Being a preferred employer enables oWorkers to access a wide variety of skills and resources that enable handling of even tasks that might require greater knowledge, such as coding. In any case, going beyond the skills that candidates come with, the dedicated training team of oWorkers ensures they are equipped to handle client work before being assigned to one.

Processing of medical insurance claims

Medical insurance, starting with the developed nations, has gradually expanded to cover larger populations around the world, including populous Asian nations like China and India. It is, effectively, a universal process today.

The importance of accurate processing in such a scenario cannot be overstated. Denial of justified claims leads to needless hardship for the claimant, and possible litigation expenses and awards to be borne by the insurer down the road, while paying more than the justified amount places needless burden on the insurer.

The criticality of this process is such that a whole new breed of companies has emerged to handle it. This type of company is known as a Third Party Administrator (TPA) and handles healthcare related insurance claims processing. They act as the interface between patients and insurers. It is not uncommon to find the helpdesks of TPAs set up in hospitals to aid patients in their claims. In a strange twist and possibly a sign of the times, occasionally, two patients might have different insurers but the same TPA.

Working with employed staff, as oWorkers does, unlike some of our competitors who choose to work with freelancers and contractors, has advantages. All our delivery centers are registered as local companies and pay social and local taxes. We get a satisfaction score in excess of 4.6 on a scale of 5 on platforms like Glassdoor, both from existing as well as past employees.

Medical Billing and Collections

While they are rendering a much-needed service, it must be recognized that most medical service providers are private, for-profit enterprises. They need to watch their bottomline just like any other business corporation.

Billing being the process through which much of their revenue is generated, they need to watch it closely and ensure that the processes are efficient. Managing the revenue cycle is an important element of any commercial activity, which is what medical billing does for medical service providers.

The added complexity in healthcare arises from the fact that in many cases the payment is made by a party other than the party receiving the service, in other words, the insurer, with whom the service recipient has a separate arrangement. Medical business process outsourcing enables this service to be handled with the attention that it needs, helping release money for the operation of the client’s services.

The ability to tap into deep candidate pools gives oWorkers the additional flexibility of hiring short-term resources. This is occasionally required when a client project experiences an unexpected or unexplained peak in volumes. oWorkers can hire almost a hundred extra resources within 48 hours. This is a huge benefit to clients who may otherwise either need to retain extra idle resources, or forego the additional volumes when they materialize.

 

Medical business process outsourcing – Support Services

As we have discussed earlier in the article, every organization, whether an aircraft manufacturer or bank, a movie maker or a hospital, operating in a managed environment has to mandatorily fulfil many requirements of governance that are designed for the greater good of society. Not only that, by virtue of its existence as a part of a competitive free market, it also has to adapt to the constantly changing landscape and adapt the best practices of the time, or be left behind.

When provided in the context of a medical service, these are also bundled under the umbrella medical BPO term though they could as well be clubbed with their respective functional BPO as well.

These services could include:

Accounts Receivables

Though it might be considered as a part of medical billing, managing accounts receivables is a distinct activity and a part of the larger umbrella of outsourcing of finance and accounts processes. It leads to better, faster revenue realization for the commercial entity.

With 85% of our clients being technology companies, and our strong ties with many technology providers, oWorkers is able to deploy the latest technologies for client projects, be it a core service or a support service such as accounts receivables.

Human Resources

Human resource process outsourcing, or HRO, comprises another critical set of processes that need to be handled by any organization that exists and seeks to deliver some product or service.

From resource hiring, to managing compensation and benefits, salary negotiation, appraisals and feedback, increments and promotions based on evaluation, compliance with regulatory requirements, are all a part of HRO, in one way or another.

With our stringent hiring processes that focus on language and mathematical ability, along with EQ and IQ tests, oWorkers has been able to hire the right people for the right roles. Our HR skills are available for the benefit of our clients as well.

Adopting the right business process outsourcing model

Adopting the right business process outsourcing model

Adopting the right business process outsourcing model

A B2B (business to business) engagement is generally understood to be a customized arrangement between two equals who know what they want and how to go about getting it. They enter into a business arrangement, usually covered by a legal contract, through which both hope to create value for their respective companies. In most cases one is a client and the other the provider, though alignments and partnerships, such as joining the features of two complementary products to offer a wholesome product to clients, are not unusual.

While the above holds true in most cases, thanks to the rapid spread of technology and large technology corporations offering products and services needed by many companies, now there are many examples of smaller companies accepting the standardised terms offered by a large technology corporation for the use of their product. Accept it or look for another product. They don’t have the time to negotiate each contract individually.

This, the need for doing it faster so that you can do more, exists in the negotiated contract space as well. The company has not been created to spend senior management time negotiating legal contracts with business partners. They have a product or service to create and sell and that is where the focus ought to be.

This is where models come in handy.

What is a model?

In the context of business, a model could be referred to as an arrangement that, on account of its suitability to the parties involved, has been used and replicated a number of times. Given certain conditions that make it suitable, it serves as a good starting or reference point on which other, similar cases could be created.

The business outsourcing industry, thus, could also be referred to as the business process outsourcing model. Once discovered, and used successfully by some, it has been repeatedly replicated by many others. This is not unique to the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry. It is applicable to all industries and situations that can be repeated by others. To elaborate the point, the life insurance industry model could be the pooling of risk by calculating the probability of death and charging a premium to participants for paying out in cases where the event occurs, or someone dies. Many different companies offer their products and services based on this broad model.

With its focus on data-based services, oWorkers has worked on over a hundred different client engagements and evolved suitable models that create a win-win situation for both. An example is the option of input or output based pricing, with the choice resting with the client. oWorkers is recognized as a top three provider in this segment.

 

The core business process outsourcing model

Many successful business models are based on following natural needs and requirements of humans. Artificial needs and aspirations can also be created, but are more difficult to sustain.

As we perhaps already know, business process outsourcing is the outcome of man’s quest for seeking efficiencies and value in all activities he is engaged with, whether in the personal or work sphere. While the informal outsourcing of processes has been carried out from time immemorial, formal business process outsourcing is a more recent phenomenon, perhaps a few decades old, and already a flourishing and growing industry.

Search for value is a core building block of a business, as much as it is of an individual. BPO creates value for a business in many different ways. Some of them are:

It enables a company to focus on its core work, while handling the support functions

With its specialization and expertise in those support functions, since it is a revenue generator for the vendor, it is able to perform them better than the client, for whom it is a cost that needs to be handled while pursuing its own revenue stream in its core business.

With its hiring and training engine, a BPO is able to ferret out talent pools that are inaccessible to most companies. These talent pools are made up of less expensive resources, who are then taken in hand by the training teams and polished to make them fit for handling the client’s business.

As they do not need to be in downtown and high street locations, BPOs can operate from cheaper locations, creating a cost advantage for the client.

Many clients testify to significant savings, up to 80%, when they outsource work to oWorkers. The inherent capability of the oWorkers team, such as the ability to hire temporary resources, creates savings in many different ways that are difficult to quantify. oWorkers can hire a hundred additional resources in 48 hours, obviating the need to maintain a bench that the client needs to pay for.

 

Business process outsourcing model – contract types

There are a number of different contractual arrangements that could exist between the Client and Vendor in a BPO relationship. While each contract would be customized to the unique requirement of the Client and their relationship with the Vendor, as is bound to be the case in any B2B (Business to Business) engagement, there are a few standard formats that have emerged over the years the industry has operated. These can now be adopted by the two parties involved, with relevant customization, saving much time and effort, as these are the arrangements that have been known to work.

Input based model

As the name suggests, the focus here is on the processing capacity that is made available by a BPO partner. In many cases this translates to defining the number of people made available by the BPO. The requirement of people is calculated by the client based on their past experience, with some adjustments considering that the work will be done by an outsourcer. The requirement is further broken down by day of the week and hour, again usually based on the client’s past experience.

The most common method of specifying this requirement is in terms of FTE, or full-time equivalent resources. If factors like leave and absenteeism need to be factored in, that is usually to the vendor’s account. Moreover, it cannot be ‘anybody’ who qualifies as a resource. The skill level and other qualifications required are also specified.

Though this may sound like an arrangement where the vendor works as a recruitment partner, it is much more than that. The specification of required resources is to cater to the expected volumes. The vendor also has responsibility for the performance of the resources being provided. While the client is actively involved in the operations, the contract usually has rewards and penalties based on the team’s performance.

The vendor needs to put in place a management structure, like supervisory staff to manage the frontline resources specified by the client. Some contracts will have the supervisory staff also specified while others, having specified the performance levels, will expect the vendor to put in place the requisite structure.

With its reputation as a preferred employer, oWorkers attracts a steady stream of walk-in job applicants. It prefers to work with employees, and not contractors and freelancers as some of its competitors do. This creates flexibility in deployment and creates a supervisory layer of committed resources.

Output based model

The name makes this business process outsourcing model reasonably clear. The focus here is on production, or the output. The expectation is that the commercials will be based on the output, and not the input or resources provided by the vendor.

But how does the vendor know what to expect? After all, he does not own the business being supported.

That is right. The client will provide an indication of what to expect. In a call center scenario, for example, the client, based on past trends as well as their new initiatives, will provide an estimate of possible calls to be received. The vendor is expected to handle within a given range of the forecast, with penalties for breaching the minimum and rewards for handling more than the peak of the range.

The volume-based arrangement, once again, is overlaid with performance standards. While the volume drives the arrangement, performance standards are also important.

oWorkers is well equipped to expand and stretch time to maximize output. All its centers are equipped to operate on a 24×7 schedule if required. Time zone differences also, sometimes, enable overnight processing of work.

Outcome based model

This is considered by many to be the ideal outsourcing contract which is based on performance and little else. It is believed that the input and output models are stepping stones till the relationship reaches the outcome model, which is also called the performance-based model. The focus is on business results, not an interim surrogate.

In truth, however, business processes are so inextricably linked to many other variables on the client side of the fence that this model often gets ruled out. Continuing with the call center example used earlier, if the client introduces a new product, it could enhance incoming call volumes and if the client finds a fix for the problem customers are calling for, volumes could suddenly drop.

While popular in the ‘product’ outsourcing space, they often meet with resistance in the ‘service’ outsourcing world, even though many consider this to be the purest arrangement.

With its partnerships with technology companies having survived and flourished over time, oWorkers can access the latest technologies for client projects. This creates good outcomes for all parties involved.

 

Business process outsourcing model – ownership

A number of models have been tried with respect to the ownership of the entity actually doing the outsourced work, with the two natural choices, of using a third-party vendor and of doing it under the same company, have remained the most viable. The ‘same company’ model has evolved and offers different options.

Third party

This is the preferred model whenever a dipping of toes in the water is required before diving in. As the industry has expanded, outsourcers have mostly relied on established BPO providers to initiate the activity. This has helped them overcome challenges of lack of familiarity with the delivery location, identifying resource pools and other administrative issues.

Third party providers have continued to excel and grow. Many large corporations have continued to trust external providers with their work, despite occasional challenges of data integrity and decision-making delays. It has a major advantage in not taking away management time on support activities.

oWorkers operates from super secure facilities and protocols. They are ISO certified (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) as well as GDPR compliant.

Owned

The beginnings of the industry were probably under this model, when the companies engaging in business process outsourcing may not even have realized that they were seeding a future industry.

The objective, at that stage, was to take out non-customer-facing activities from the expensive downtown real estate and establish them in a less expensive location. It had a side benefit of attracting resources that were also less expensive. At that stage, not much thought was presumably given to the models of ownership that might be suitable.

With a policy of multi-cultural and multi-ethnic employment that is in place, oWorkers is able to support its clients in 22 languages.

Independent company in the group

Over time, this business process outsourcing model seems to have emerged as one that is preferred by the large corporations. It is a variation of the ‘owned’ model, with the major difference being that the work is outsourced to an independent company with its own identity even though the eventual ownership perhaps lies within the same group as the outsourcer.

The advantage is that it provides an opportunity for the outsourcer to distance itself from the vendor, as it is a separate company, while getting at least some benefits of common decision-making. It also gets the benefit of a lower cost operating model.

With global transaction volumes rising and many large corporations getting larger, there is enough volume for many of them to justify an independent entity only for handling their outsourced business processes.

oWorkers boasts of a committed and satisfied workforce. They get reviews from staff, both past and present, that generally rate them 4.6 or more on a scale of 5.

Build Operate Transfer (BOT)

This is another hybrid model that has been adopted by some.

The client eventually intends to adopt the ‘owned’ or ‘independent company in group’ model but has hesitation on account of a lack of experience in this line of work as well as lack of familiarity with the terrain. They engage with a third-party operator to set up a niche, dedicated delivery unit for them, with some understanding of eventual transfer of ownership to them.

This gives them adequate time and opportunity to understand the model before they end up owning it. Of course, there might also be some escape hatches built in in case they wish to not take it over when the time eventually arrives.

Several unicorn marketplaces around the world trust oWorkers for their BPO support requirements. We hope you will, too.

 

Final words

Whatever be your choice of the business process outsourcing model to adopt, oWorkers stands out as a credible provider and all-weather BPO partner.

They have employed many youngsters from the less privileged sections of society and given them an entry ticket into the global digital economy. Your outsourced work could enable them to engage a few more.

Contribution of Global Business Process Outsourcing

Contribution of Global Business Process Outsourcing

Contribution of Global Business Process Outsourcing

Business process outsourcing did not always look like the way it does today.

But that could be true for almost anything. After all, the internet did not exist a few decades back. The telecommunications revolution that swept across the world around the nineties had not swept across the world in the same way ever before. So, in all fairness, this statement could be applicable to many other situations and industries.

Global business process outsourcing is a relatively recent phenomenon. Before it went global, it was local, or, using modern day parlance, even hyper-local in many cases.

As consumer industries started to grow, it became possible to consider bundling activities that were not customer-facing and move them out of expensive downtown real estate into facilities not very far away, perhaps in the same city or town, but in less expensive locations, and with access to a workforce who would be available for lower wages.

Delivery centers, the engines of BPO activity, kept going further and further away from the activity generation or business centers, in search of value. With the development of civil aviation, it became possible to transport documents and artefacts over longer distances quickly.

Never satisfied, like any business, the industry stayed alert for opportunities. It is now a matter of historical record that with the introduction of the internet and development in telecommunications, any shackles that may have been there on the spread of the industry, were removed. Delivery centers could be set up in any corner of the world that was serviced by the internet and had a talent pool to execute the particular task.

With centers in Bulgaria, Egypt and Madagascar, oWorkers is an integral part of the BPO revolution. Despite its relative youth, having been in existence for just over 8 years, it is identified among the top three providers in its chosen area of work, data based back office BPO services.

 

Global business process outsourcing – the great equalizer

Like it probably did when the context was a nation or region, business process outsourcing has served to iron out the vast disparities between the rich and the poor across the globe.

How does that work?

Economic activity is the basis on which people and communities become rich and poor. Greater economic activity is associated with greater opportunity and greater wealth. It raises the standard of living of people leading to manually dependent tasks becoming more expensive to do because labor rates go up in keeping with the increase in wealth.

At the same time, for lack of economic opportunity, there are many other nations and regions where people are unemployed and poor. As a result, labor rates stay low.

What the global flow of work does is move work from the expensive regions to the inexpensive regions, since a business is always on the lookout for better value. If the same work can be done for less, why would it choose to pay more? It is a bit like water flowing from high ground to low ground.

oWorkers has made it a point to work with less advantaged communities. Besides, they work with employed resources and not freelancers and contractors like some of their competitors. This provides a semblance of security for the workers. Perhaps a direct result is the great feedback and scores oWorkers received from its workers, both present and past, on platforms such as Glassdoor, which always average more than 4.6 on a scale of 5.

 

Impact of movement of work

It reduces the available work in the expensive location. As a result, labor rates cool down. With fewer choices, people might be willing to work for lower wages.

It increases the work available in the less expensive location. As a result, some of the unemployed get employment which releases money into the local economy. Also, with more work coming in and unemployment reducing, labor rates could rise as workers could get more choosy in selecting what work they want to take up.

The net result is that the difference between the two locations will tend to move towards a central point.

Thus, we see that the flow of work around the world is from the economically more developed countries with a higher standard of living and higher wages, to nations which are lower in the economic development scale and have lower wages.

Global business process outsourcing that started a few decades back, was driven by large corporations in the Western countries outsourcing business processes to Eastern nations such as India and the Philippines that had large pools of educated talent suitable for doing the outsourced work. Since that time BPO work has reached may other providing geographies from many sourcing geographies, but India and the Philippines remain the center of gravity of the industry. 

oWorkers follows a policy of promoting a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic workplace, in each of its delivery centers. A direct benefit of this policy has been the development of a multilingual capability that now enables it to offer services in 22 languages.

 

Local government support

The relationship between industry and government can be testy, with governments complaining about profiteering companies breaking rules and destroying the environment, and companies complaining about the bureaucracy and lack of speed of response from the government resulting in lost opportunities.

However, global business process outsourcing appears to be an exception.

Why is that?

On account of the employment generation capability of the industry. That too of a talent pool that is not armed with skills in demand. The industry caters to the talent pool that does not boast of high educational qualifications, or qualifications that are sought after by employers.

The experienced leadership team, with hands-on industry experience of over 20 years, are forever working with local authorities and governments, in both current as well as prospective locations, to ensure that oWorkers is making a positive contribution to society.

 

Global business process outsourcing – best practice of hiring people with limited skills

The BPO industry’s population is to take on people at the lower end of the compensation range, after assessing their trainability, or ability to learn the skills required to succeed in the jobs they have, put them through a rigorous training regimen, make them suitable for a job, and give them a start.

Governments around the world love the industry for this ability. Governments have a vested interest in the upliftment of communities that are left behind, some on account of a genuine desire to reduce human hardship, and some for the purpose of optics and a better show at the next hustings. Whatever be the reason, most governments welcome and encourage BPOs to set up shop in the areas they govern.

Global BPOs count on the support of local governments for operating smoothly. They, in fact, look for government support as a criteria while scouting for locations and partners.

Knowing that a provider has the support of the local government can act as an encouragement for prospective clients. oWorkers works for a number of technology companies, including unicorn marketplaces.  

 

Employment for local communities

Eventually the work has to be done by people. This is where the trickle-down effect of global business process outsourcing reaches. The industry generates work for marginalized and neglected communities, often left behind due to a combination of factors. It is a known employment generator, not at the highly educated, skilled, highly paid vocations, but at the lower end of the scale, where educational and other qualifications are limited, which is what most often these communities answer to.

The reason for looking for resources with limited educational qualifications are obvious, from a BPO provider’s perspective. One of the ways in which they create value for clients is by taking up their existing processes and executing them at a lower cost. Manpower being a key resource in delivery, the ability to hire cheaper resources while delivering similar output often holds the key to this value creation. This is what BPO operators excel in.

BPO operators pick up ‘raw’ but trainable resources from these backgrounds, give them rigorous training, and make them suitable for one of their client assignments. Once people get an entry into the global virtual economy, it is also up to them how they make use of it and navigate their career from there onwards. They will assume that it is the responsibility of the employer, only to their peril and future disappointment. The employer is a commercial organization. It has created employment opportunities of a certain kind because it suits their business model. They do not give a guarantee either for lifetime employment or endless growth.

oWorkers has strived to become a contributing member of the local community, in all locations where its delivery centers are located. As a result, it attracts a steady stream of walk-in talent that gives oWorkers a choice of the best talent while keeping the cost for attracting them low. It pays social and local taxes for its staff members.

It also enables oWorkers to hire in bulk to handle short-term, unplanned peaks in client volumes, that they would otherwise have to either forego or retain idle staff year-round for.

 

Third party or Global inhouse center?

Outsourcers have to take many decisions with regard to business process outsourcing.

Which processes are suitable for outsourcing?

What is the right geography to outsource to?

What criteria should be used in the identification of a supplier?

How should the arrangement be managed so that there is no disruption in service?

There are many others.

One decision that became important for many companies at some point of time, especially large corporations, was whether to outsource to a third-party vendor, an independent company, or to a company within the overall umbrella of their group.

oWorkers has forged partnerships with leading technology companies. This enables the use of leading technologies for client work, something they would not have access to if they were running an inhouse center. To ensure security of client data, oWorkers operates from super secure facilities & protocols with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). It is also GDPR compliant. Its ability to run a 24×7 shop to meet client needs while offering the option of working from home or office to its staff, are industry leading standards.

 

Why the dilemma?

Large corporations often move slowly. The cost of a misstep is very high for them, considering their scale. Hence, many large corporations dipped their toe in the waters of global business process outsourcing, which may have looked murky at first, by contracting third-party vendors. This afforded them the opportunity of outsourcing only bite-size chunks of work, as much as they thought was right, without the pressure to fill up seats or utilize an infrastructure that had been created. A third-party arrangement also allowed them an easy exit path, subject to the terms of the contract, should it not work out to their satisfaction.

In addition, third-party vendors brought into play the advantage of local knowledge. It enabled them to access talent pools that were suitable for the work contracted. It enabled them to navigate the infrastructural issues such as inadequate grid-supplied power and unreliable local transportation.

However, once the model had been proven, and larger and larger volumes were being outsourced, the question of inhouse or third party reared its head. Was there an opportunity to keep for themselves the value that third-party providers were creating for their shareholders?

Apart from the greater control and flexibility it would permit the outsourcer, they would also be able to create a greater affinity with their brand. A BPO provider supporting claim processing for AIG and Aetna and New York Life may not be able to impart the ethos of each brand to the operation and hence the staff working on them, but a Prudential, with support from a subsidiary company doing work only for Prudential, would be able to.

There is no single right answer. Each outsourcer decides based on its own unique situation. The decision can also change over a period of time. But the subsidiary operating model, also known as a ‘captive center’ or ‘global inhouse center’ has come to occupy an important place in the industry.

While price advantage may be a factor that could impel a move towards a captive center, the pricing offered by oWorkers will be hard to beat. Many of their clients from Western Europe as well as the US have testified to savings of almost 80% of their costs pre-outsourcing.

Use of moderation for business explained through social media moderation examples

Use of moderation for business explained through social media moderation examples

Use of moderation for business explained through social media moderation examples

It is not something that gets printed in the Annual Report of public companies or promoted through paid advertising by private companies. This is one reason social media moderation examples, especially in terms of names of companies and brands, are difficult to come by. Many times, it is deduced through the process of logical extension and extrapolation; if Company A is doing social media moderation, Company B must be doing it as well. Or, if Brand P has a presence on social media, and they are generating a lot of positive comments, it is only possible if they do social media moderation. Attribution of social media moderation being done by a company, based either on evidence or acknowledgment, may not be easy to do.

That being said, it is not that the companies doing moderation themselves or through an outsourced arrangement, are indulging in illegal activities that they need to keep under wraps. Under the commonly understood practice of giving fair and reasonable notice, all platforms and all communities created on a particular social media platform start by publishing the rules of engagement. The generally accepted practice requires participants to sign up to become a part of the platform or community, one of the steps being to agree to abide by the rules put in place by the owner of that space. If they do not like the rules, they are free to stay away and not participate. Having accepted the rules and signed up for participation, it is an expectation that they will abide by what they have signed up for. And, if they step out of line, the site owners would be within their rights to moderate the content in a manner that is conducive to achieving the objectives with which they set up the space and related rules.

Social media moderation examples are, perhaps, best understood in the context of the different ways in which moderation can be done.

Some claim that not moderating social media is also a decision and hence should be counted as an example of moderation. There is perhaps some merit in the contention, and it may be counted as one is some write-ups, but for our purpose, after having noted it as a possible decision that could be taken by many companies, we will discuss the various types of social media moderation that might be classified as ‘active.’

Counted as one of the top three BPO service providers in the world in its chosen area of data and back-office, oWorkers is an expert in moderation of social media communities on behalf of clients across industries from all over the world. Clients, especially from the US and Western Europe, note the saving of almost 80% of the cost prior to outsourcing the work to oWorkers.

 

Pre-moderation

As perhaps conveyed by the name of this method, in this method, the content is checked before it is released for the public. This could be viewed as the classic method of authorization before any action is taken. Accuracy and control take precedence over engagement and user experience. User generated content (UGC) is placed in a queue that is fed to the moderating resources who pick off one item at a time and take a view on its suitability for the website. If found suitable, it is released and becomes available to users.

Pros

This allows website owners to exercise control over the content. They can ensure that unsuitable content is not available to users.

Cons

It degrades user experience. When someone participates on a social media platform, the objective is to facilitate the free flow of communication and ideas. Holding back content created by users stilts the experience and could make for a dull and dead platform if user expectations are different.

Social media moderation examples that rely on this method also incur a significant cost as human resources are required in adequate numbers to review each piece of content, in good enough time.

Application

This could be the appropriate method for platforms that are sensitive to abusive content, such as ones directed at young adults, or where undesirable or libelous content could cause damage to the brand or the subject being promoted, such as celebrities. It could also be used where the turnaround time expected is not fast, allowing for review and authorization without upsetting the community.

It is understood that many startups offering educational services and content rely on pre-moderation to ensure that offensive or motivated content does not get through. The content on their platform is usually meant for access with or without subscription, and generally there is no immediacy required by the content submitter for it to be published.

The oWorkers advantage

As a preferred employer in all the locations it works in, oWorkers receives a steady stream of walk-in talent. It gets to choose resources based on the requirement of different client projects, including for pre-moderation which often requires resources in large numbers.

 

Post-moderation

In this method, content is not held back for review prior to being published. The participating user gets the satisfaction of seeing her UGC visible as soon as she has pressed the SEND or UPLOAD button. What she might not know is that while the content has become visible, a copy of the content is also placed in a queue for review where a moderator takes a call, as in the pre-moderation process, on whether to permit the content to continue being visible.

Thus, in a way, this works in a reverse way as pre-moderation. All content is assumed to be kosher unless found to be otherwise, while it is the other way round in pre-moderation.

Pros

This method promotes user engagement by permitting a free flow of communication and exchanges without the need for an authorization in each case.

Cons

The human cost continues to be an issue. While content does become visible, the need for a quick review does not go away because it is now visible. Unacceptable content needs to be removed as soon as possible to limit the damage it can do.

Of course, the other downside is that with technology in everyone’s hands, inappropriate content, even if it becomes accessible for a short period of time, can be copied and spread very quickly. It may become difficult to limit the damage once that has happened.

Application

It is understood that YouTube relies upon a form of post-moderation to maintain the quality of content available on its platform.

The oWorkers advantage

oWorkers operates with hired staff, and not contractors and freelancers as some of their competitors do, which delivers the best social media moderation examples. They regularly receive scores of 4.65 and above from past and present employees on platforms like Glassdoor. They pay social taxes for their staff in the locations they operate from.

 

Reactive moderation

Where the website or community owner does not proactively seek to identify and eliminate offensive content, and instead relies upon feedback from the participating community itself, is known as reactive moderation. Content that is identified and flagged by one or more members of the community would then be reviewed and adjudicated upon. The member/s flagging the content may also need to be kept informed of the fate of the content, and the reasons for whatever action is taken, especially if the content is not acted upon as suggested by the member. Typically, the platform will make available a button that can be clicked if someone wishes to report a particular piece of content.

Pros

Among social media moderation examples, this method gives priority to the engagement that happens on the platform, over the need for control. It also accords respect to its members and assumes that it has members who are engaged and mature and will take the initiative to flag content that may be inimical to the interests of the group, without taking undue umbrage because of its presence.

Since each piece of content need not be adjudicated upon, the requirement of resources needed for the activity reduces substantially.

Cons

Like in any case where pre-moderation is not being done, there is a risk of malicious content making it to the website and being rapidly copied and spread, leading to bad press for the community.

Also, the responsibility of publishing standards for action for an item that is flagged, still remains with the owners of the website.

Application

Facebook is understood to use reactive moderation for its platform where it reviews and acts upon content that may be reported by users. This may not be the only method of moderation used by Facebook. It is also known that Facebook might be using different methods of moderations for different types of content on its platform.

The oWorkers advantage

Its ability to attract talent also gives oWorkers the flexibility to provide short-term resources to handle peaks and troughs in client volumes, which can often happen in any form of moderation. oWorkers can hire an additional 100 resources within 48 hours. This enables clients to save big on account of not having to hire and retain resources only to meet peak or unexpectedly high volumes.

 

Distributed moderation

This could be considered as a variation of Reactive moderation. The website owners don’t engage in primary moderation, or moderation of their own volition. Instead, the community is set up in a way that members get to provide feedback on each piece of content published, in the form of a rating. Content that gets consistently high ratings is most visible to users, with lower rated content being pushed further and further down as a result of poor ratings. In time, the lowest ranked content could almost become invisible. From the perspective of identifying and removing offensive content on sensitive websites, among social media moderation examples, this is not much used.

Pros

This method also gives priority to the engagement that happens on the platform, over the need for control. It also accords respect to its members and assumes that it has members who are engaged and mature and will take the initiative to rate content so that it may find its correct place in the database.

As there is no role for a moderator, with content being rated up or down by users, this does not exercise the financials of the community owner.

Cons

Like in any case where pre-moderation is not being done, there is a risk of malicious content making it to the website and being rapidly copied and spread, leading to bad press for the community.

Without an oversight being maintained by the owner, there is a possibility that content could slide out of control if users do not take active part in managing and rating it.

Application

An example could be Slashdot. News stories submitted by users and editors are evaluated by users and editors. Comments can also be added to each story.

The oWorkers advantage

Operating out of three distinct geographies, with its avowed policy of hiring a multicultural workforce, oWorkers has developed, and now offers to clients, the ability to process in 22 languages. After all, social media interaction can take place from any part of the world in any language.

 

Automated moderation

The story is not complete without inclusion of automated moderation. As volumes have risen and the world becomes more divided and dangerous, automated moderation holds out hope for many platforms and companies. It is hoped it will be able to pre-moderate sensitive content at a cost and in volumes that human beings are not able to.

One of the challenges has been that much of the content that is being uploaded is unstructured. It could be photos or audio or video, or even unformatted text. Traditional technologies have been unable to handle that, but the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds promise that it may be able to do much of the heavy lifting at some point in time which, currently, is limited to applying filters in one form or another.

Pros

As volumes rise, automation often becomes a savior for business with the advantages it provides like handling much larger volumes at much lower running costs. In addition, it is expected to apply standards strictly and consistently that humans sometimes fail to.

Cons

It has not been able to develop the intuition and fine sensibilities of the human brain. While it is expected to do the majority of the work, when it is unable to take a decision, it is expected that it will defer to its human masters.

Application

Automation based examples may be few at this point, but are expected to become commonplace once technologies become reliable. It could be used across the industry spectrum, with some customisation for each situation in which it is applied.

The oWorkers advantage

Operating from secure facilities, oWorkers is ISO (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) certified and GDPR compliant. Its time-tested partnerships with technology companies provides it access to the latest processing technologies for client work.

 

Conclusion

With all three sites being capable of running 24×7 operations, not only can they provide quick turnaround, but also offer business continuity by splitting volume across two or more locations.

85% of their clients are technology companies, including some unicorn marketplaces. They are led by a team that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry. They will have several social media moderation examples to share with prospective clients such as yourselves.

The Role of a Business Process Outsourcing Consultant

The Role of a Business Process Outsourcing Consultant

The Role of a Business Process Outsourcing Consultant

Who is a consultant?

What does a business consultant do?

If these questions have bothered you at one point of time or another, rest assured that you are not alone. Many people are uncertain about who or what a consultant is and what value he or she brings to the company that engages him/ her.

Consultancy.uk provides a guideline:

“A consultant is a person who provides professional or expert advice in a particular field of science or business to either an organisation or individual. As there is no legal protection given to the job title ‘consultant’, in theory, anyone can on a day wake up and decide to adopt the consultant title. Despite the broad definition that can be subsumed under the term consultant, there are in essence three characteristics that distinguish a consultant from other professions.

Firstly, a consultant provides expertise that a client lacks or support that a client is unable to fulfill. In return for their professional services, the consultant charges a fee. Secondly, a consultant operates independently from the client, implying that, from the respective consultant, there is no conflict of interests between the client’s issue and the services. Thirdly, a consultant operates in a professional manner, which ranges from having the right qualifications to ensuring high quality service delivery and a solid internal operation.”

What are the situations in which consultants add value to an organization that engages them?

There are many.

Consultants are experts in their area and bring knowledge and expertise into the equation that the company on its own does not possess. If a company gets slapped with a lawsuit, it may need to hire legal consultants for guidance as that (legal services) is not an area in which it possesses knowledge or experience.

Being external to the company, and independent, consultants are expected to be free from the internal politics and pressures and hence may be able to handle a situation on its merits alone.

They can even serve as a strategic resource for the company to take decisions that are expected to be unpopular, like announcing a retrenchment.

Of course, in some situations, hiring a consultant may be the right call as it might just work out to be the cheaper option.

Business process outsourcing consultants are consultants who ply their trade in the field of business process outsourcing, also known as the BPO industry.

The leadership team of oWorkers act as consultants to clients and guide them towards making appropriate choices. They also act as consultants to the internal teams, showing them the path in every new engagement. The leadership team boasts of a combined experience of over 20 years in the industry.

As we have seen from the definitions, consulting is a wide remit. BPO consulting is no different. Some companies even use the term for their BPO partners, the ones who deliver their outsourced services.

For a better understanding of what these consultants do, we can look at some of the services they offer to Outsourcers (Clients) and BPO providers (vendors).

 

Services for Clients/ Outsourcers

Clients and outsourcers are companies either interested in outsourcing some of their business processes, or ones who already do so. A. business process outsourcing consultant can support them in several ways:

Developing an outsourcing strategy

Despite the intent being there, many companies may not know where to start. Or even what it means and what to expect from the proposed outsourcing. Not having done it earlier also means that while they have capable and competent resources, they do not have the knowledge or skill-set to help them navigate the uncharted waters of process outsourcing.

A business does not act in a random manner. It takes actions as part of a plan to enhance value for itself and its owners. A business process outsourcing consultant will enable the company to articulate and synthesize the initial thinking with respect to process outsourcing, which will normally result in a strategy. Since you don’t know what you don’t know, the consultant steps in to fill the gap in knowledge and experience, with which a clear thought process and articulated strategy will emerge, including a cost-benefit analysis; does it really make sense for the company to go in for business process outsourcing?

As normally happens when a company begins to evaluate a proposed strategy, the reason for taking it up is that it sees some benefits resulting from its implementation. However, what is not fully understood at that stage is the down side implications of implementation. By posing difficult questions, such as the ones below, is how the consultant forces a considered decision:

  • Will they lose critical skills?
  • Will it lead to the leakage of data or trade secrets?
  • What if the partner is unable to handle the work?

Are there any regulatory implications?

A strategy is the cornerstone on which transactional execution is done. oWorkers, as an example, has a clear strategy of focusing on the back-office and data service needs of clients and has created a niche for itself in this space. Despite being only 8 years old, it is already recognized as one of the top three players in the world.

Identifying processes for outsourcing

Determining what to outsource is an equally important decision for the company, once the direction of going in for process outsourcing has largely been decided.

Is the Finance and Accounting process ready to be outsourced?

Should the Recruitment function be the first to be handled by the vendor?

There is no standard way. Since each business is unique, its method of business process outsourcing will also be unique and meant to serve its interests. The consultant will help not only in deciding which activities should be outsourced, but also the order in which it should be done.

Related to the outsourcing will be the critical function of migration, how the processes should be transitioned out to the vendor to ensure nil or minimum disruption. And what the company needs to do to minimize disruption, including communicating with impacted parties, particularly customers.

A business process outsourcing consultant will also facilitate the creation of a plan for supervision and management once the processes are being handled by the provider. What kind of reports should be provided by the provider? Is a physical touch by the company personnel needed? At what frequency? It should be remembered that the eventual ownership of the processes remains with the outsourcer. If they fail, the outsourcer’s business will be impacted. Hence, there is a need to ensure continuing good health of the partner and their supported processes.

Whatever the process identified, availability of manpower is a critical requirement of the BPO industry. oWorkers scores well in this area, with its ability to draw and retain the best talent, being a preferred employer in all its operating geographies. This ability also gives them the flexibility to hire short-term resources at short notice, to cater to an unexpected surge in volumes, saving a tidy packet for clients.

Evaluation of potential partners

This is one area where a lot of outsourcers engage the services of consultants, especially if they are first-time outsourcers, as they have limited familiarity with the ecosystem.

Consultants can help outsourcers in understanding what a good outcome might look like. In fact, setting the right expectations is an equally important part of the consultant’s role; unrealistic expectations are one of the surest ways of the failure of an initiative.

A consultant facilitates the process of drawing up criteria based on which vendors can be evaluated. While price and quality of output are perhaps important criteria in all engagements, there are many others like technology, ability to hire and train, providing for short-term volume spikes, the company’s financial position, competence of the management team, ability to work from home or office, speed of processing, location and distance, etc. which might become more or less important depending upon the client and the process to be outsourced.

The consultant will also support the process of either issuing an RFP (request for proposal) for seeking interest, or may choose to reach out directly to a few vendors thought to be somewhat suitable for the purpose.

Eventually, the process will end with the selection of a partner.

In the interim, the business process outsourcing consultant would also have been working with the legal team of the client to ensure a contract framework is ready by the time a vendor is selected.

Pricing is usually important for all clients looking for an outsourcing partner. oWorkers is known to be a provider that saves close to 80% of pre-outsourcing costs for clients, as often confirmed by clients from the US and Western Europe. Additionally, the choice they offer between dollars per unit of output and dollars per unit of input, is any client’s dream. oWorkers also has processes that save money for clients, such as the ability to hire for short-term peaks.

 

Services for Providers

Consultants can do anything, as we know.

Not only are they a support for outsourcers, they are also well placed to provide inputs to providers who would, otherwise, struggle in certain areas.

Scouting for locations

Location strategy is an important element of the strategy of a provider as they strive to create value for clients. While they start operations from a specific location on account of certain natural advantages, such as familiarity of the leadership team, or preference of a key initial client, they are always on the lookout for geographical expansion opportunities in order to make their offering comprehensive and wholesome. The wider the geographical footprint, the more likely they are for a client to find a suitable location, apart from an enhanced ability to provide business continuity to clients in the event of a geography suffering from some catastrophic event, either natural or manmade.

Business process outsourcing consultants, who work with different clients, are well placed to evaluate geographies on the shortlist for setting up the next delivery center. The process typically would be to help their client (the BPO vendor) articulate and draw up a location strategy, which would include the evaluation criteria. This would be the basis on which the final selection will be made.

They are also well equipped to make suggestions in terms of suitable geographies that should be considered by the client.

With three distinct geographies operational, ability to support clients in 22 languages, and centers that can operate 24×7, oWorkers is a natural partner for many growing companies and ranks near the top on the evaluation grid of most consultants.

Industry expertise

One of the complaints freshers have when they are looking for their first job is that many potential employers seem to want ‘freshers with experience,’ a contradiction in terms. Such an animal cannot exist. There has to be a first time or a first job before which you cannot have work experience.

Similarly, having set up a BPO company, the management is interested in growth. If they started life with services to an insurance company, they would perhaps want to expand. One way of doing this is by providing similar services to companies in other industries, say retail, or manufacturing.

But the problem is that they have not worked in these industries earlier. The outsourcer, when scouting for a provider, might have prior experience as a selection criteria.

What is to be done?

Consultants, once again, are the answer.

Consultants who have the requisite prior experience are engaged by the vendor in order to demonstrate their capability and commitment to the industry. The consultant may be called upon to build the requisite set of skills in the company.

Technology, apart from human resources, constitutes the backbone of the BPO industry, whichever the industry they may be serving. The Super secure facilities & protocols that oWorkers uses, along with its ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certifications and GDPR compliance, give it an edge when processing your confidential data.

Functional expertise

In much the same way as industries, many BPO services are functionally distinguished. Think Human Resources Outsourcing. Think Finance and Accounting Outsourcing. Think Customer Service Outsourcing.

Companies who have an interest in developing skills and expertise in an area where they are presently not operational, need to have a starting point. How do they get experienced without having the experience?

It is a Catch 22 situation.

They don’t have experience in a functional area because they have not done any work in it. They cannot get work in the area because they don’t have any experience in it.

Enter a suitable qualified business process outsourcing consultant. Banish the problem. The consultant becomes the rallying point around which expertise is first showcased, and then built.

As it works with employees, and not freelancers and contractors like some competitors do, oWorkers has flexibility in redeployment and retraining of people to cater to emerging functional requirements. Staff members, both past and present, usually rate them 4.65 or higher on third-party platforms such as Glassdoor.