Using freelancers may not be as cheap as you think

Using freelancers may not be as cheap as you think

Using freelancers may not be as cheap as you think

Freelancing is all the rage in the gig economy. It has been further fueled by the resetting of working norms during the Covid-19 pandemic which made work from home, or WFH, an acceptable part of work. Though the lockdowns and restrictions on movement have substantially eased since, what started as work from home seems to have settled down as a permanent feature, in the form of virtual work.

Employers and workers are getting together in numbers greater than ever before, for the purpose of freelance work. The engagement is usually specific to an assignment, after which they are free to go their respective ways. They come together either through directly contacting each other or through the many platforms that have emerged as facilitators of freelance work, such as Freelancer.com, Fiverr.com, and Upwork.com.

A future workplace report published by Upwork in 2021 found that more than 70% of the companies surveyed by them planned to either stay at extant levels or increase their efforts at hiring freelancers to work for the company.

As an established outsourcing provider, oWorkers tracks developments in the freelancing world. oWorkers provides a credible solution to companies looking for creative, reliable, inexpensive ways of working, and takes on projects in various areas. In its chosen space of data-based BPO services, it is now recognized as one of the top three providers in the world.

 

Benefits

If the trend has caught on, it must be driven by some underlying benefits that accrue to either the freelancers, people and companies who hire them, or both.

For freelancers

By choosing to work as freelancers, people seem to be making a statement of taking their life into their own hands, after decades of messaging in the media about seeming exploitation at the hands of large corporations. Many are rejecting the idea of sacrificing themselves in pursuit of putting together a nest egg based on which they can have fun in old age. They are choosing to have fun today, while still trying to create a nest egg for old age. Through freelancing, they can work at the pace they choose, and provide time for the other important things in their life, which could be hobbies, greater involvement with the lives of their young children, or any other.

For employers

Freelancing sets employers free from the need to find constant work for their employees since they are anyway being paid a salary. Sometimes work is created so that they do not sit idle. Looked at from another angle, with freelancing, they get resources when they have work, and not otherwise, which results in cost savings, as they do not need to pay salaries even when there is no material work to be done. In addition, the freelancers are likely to be experts in their craft as that is the one skill, or set of skills, they have been offering to clients again and again. As opposed to in-house resources, who tend to become generalists, and develop limited skills in their field. Moreover, freelancers also get wider exposure as they solve the problems of different clients and learn to apply their skills better.

The above notwithstanding, a company looking for a processing solution can get a lot more with a partner like oWorkers. For example, it has pursued a policy of working with a multinational and multicultural, employed team. A direct benefit that has emanated from a consistent adherence to the policy is the development of a multilingual team. oWorkers can support client requirements n over 20 languages. No freelancer can do that.

 

What lies beneath – the downside

While these benefits are understood, there are many limitations of freelancing that employers often fail to appreciate, leading to dissatisfaction and ineffectual performance.

While freelancing certainly creates opportunities on both sides, companies would be well advised to take a minute to understand the downsides as well, before they do jump onto the bandwagon.

There are many moving parts in a company

A company operates in a dynamic, competitive environment. It has to manage a multitude of moving parts, all together, to give itself a reasonable chance of success.

Full-time employees are sensitive to changing requirements. They understand that the long-term success of their employer is beneficial for their long-term well-being and display flexibility in accommodating them. This enables the company to operate as a cohesive unit and in a better position to deliver to client requirements.

A freelancer comes with a limited perspective; the successful completion of his/her assigned task. Perhaps justifiably so, as it is quite likely that his/her compensation is based on it. Hence, if the sensitivity to changing circumstances means compromising on the commercials, it is an unlikely accommodation, giving rise to the possibility of dissonance within the organization. Moreover, if freelancers are permitted greater leeway, it could cause friction amongst employed staff members.

Thanks to its leadership team, which has several decades of hands-on experience in the industry, oWorkers has been able to keep the various moving parts of every client’s business moving in tandem.

Access to limited talent pools

Companies thrive on identifying and developing talent, as people are a key resource. They are able to access freelancing talent through many standard channels such as freelancing marketplaces, job boards, and talent consultants. It has been found by many companies that the talent available on job boards and freelancing sites are often similar. Choosing a freelancing option to hire does not give them access to any newer or richer vein of talent for their work. Many people looking for jobs could also be the ones looking for freelancing work.

A partner like oWorkers prides itself on its access to talent. By contracting with them, not only will a company get access to another source of talent, in a new geography, it will not have to make any effort in attracting it too. The position oWorkers occupies, as a preferred employer, in each of the geographies it delivers services from, provides it with an unparalleled pipeline of walk-in talent. This not only saves money, as they do not need to advertise to attract talent but also facilitates the identification of the best resources for their various client projects.

Infrastructure does not change

Freelancers are required to operate within the confines of the infrastructure that a company has created for its work, be it physical space, be it technology, or be it other experts. The extent that these were limiting factors for the company, does not change. A freelancer does not bring any newer infrastructure or technology or resources with him/her. What he does bring is his/her ability, skills and knowledge, and the desire to do a good job.

In fact, on account of freelancers relying on their own private resources such as laptops and network connections, in many cases, they may not even have a setup that could be considered optimum for the task.

With oWorkers, a client gets access to infrastructure that includes not only the physical facilities but often also technologies that will create efficiency in their business processes. Each employee is provided with the tools and technologies that will enable him/her to provide optimum efficiency and quality to the client. oWorkers provides cutting-edge technology owing to the partnerships it has nurtured over many years with leading technology companies.

Task versus responsibility

With freelancers, the responsibility of managing them continues with the employer. The freelancer is almost like another employee, with the contractual terms being different. Whether hours are being clocked, and whether work is being done timely, needs to be managed at the individual freelancer’s level, and there could be many of them operating for the company at the same time. This could create management overhead and cost.

When oWorkers gets into the picture, the task management responsibility shifts to them. The engagement level is contractual, with all the different tasks and responsibilities under it being managed by oWorkers on a day-to-day basis or as required. It provides periodic dashboards to clients to ensure they are aware of the progress of their assigned business processes, without the need to manage them on a task or day-to-day basis.

Frequent transactions

Each freelancer is unique. He/she is perhaps good at the job, but not much more. From the freelancer’s perspective, this is the way it is supposed to be.

For the employer, it means that hiring transactions are frequent, probably many more than the transactions for hiring permanent employees, since permanent employees are expected to stay longer and perform a variety of different roles, as required by the company. The costs add up quickly and could offset the financial gains of working with freelancers.

Though it might rely on freelancers occasionally, oWorkers follows a policy of working with employed staff. This gives permanence to the staff and enables the building of skills that benefit client delivery. oWorkers is also able to cater to sudden, unplanned requirements of resources, again thanks to its position in the local community. It has been able to hire over a hundred additional resources within 48 hours on several occasions.

Uncertain outcome

There is an ever-present risk of being left high and dry by a non-serious or uncommitted freelancer. Though the company would take the hiring decision only after verifying the antecedents and perhaps references, the risk of a sudden abandonment never goes away. The reason could be that the freelancer has got a much more lucrative offer, or personal developments make it impossible to continue with the assignment. There are no backups available. The reason freelancing is lucrative for a company, that is works out cheaper, could work against it here. The eventual financial benefit to a freelancer from an assignment is always limited, unlike in employment, where a lifelong career could be at stake. Hence, it is easier to abandon an assignment as compared to either full-time employees or an outsourcing partner. Who knows, one freelancer might even be handling multiple assignments at the same time. At some point, he/she could choose to just focus on the one they like or is more remunerative and abandon the rest.

oWorkers operates as an extension of the client. It has the people and processes and systems to be in a position to offer 24×7 support. It means that for the contracted processes, it has multiple resources that can execute, else a 24×7 coverage would not be possible. And it has significant business investment and goodwill at stake, which they are unlikely to jeopardize for one assignment or even one client.

 

In conclusion

Outsourcing to a competent partner is equivalent to creating a branch or unit of your business. It could be in close proximity, or thousands of miles away, depending on the need of the business processes as well as the terms available.

While there is a fair number of freelancers who operate in this manner as a choice, there also seems to be a large number who bid for freelancing opportunities while they look for a more permanent role elsewhere. After all, the benefits one might get as an employee, such as retiral contributions, assistance with taxation, insurance, etc. are not available when one is a freelancer, and one needs to handle all the various compliance requirements individually or take assistance from consultants. It is a cost and a demand on time.

Results are mixed. While there are many companies who are happy with their decision to freelance certain roles, there seems to be at least an equal number who are unhappy, for one or more of the reasons above.

Cheaper resources for an assignment might cost the company a whole lot more in the long run. It is better to consider and evaluate the options available. Outsourcing is an option that can deliver many of the same benefits and substantially reduce the risks present in freelancing.

How to manage tail spend before it becomes a runaway train

How to manage tail spend before it becomes a runaway train

How to manage tail spend before it becomes a runaway train

Typically, a few items contribute a major percentage of the expenses in an organization. As an example, salary expense could be the single largest item of expense that consumes more than half the costs of the company.

The same logic applies in reverse as well. There are many items of expenditure that, together, contribute only a small percentage of the total expense budget. It is also used as another example of the 80:20 rule of management; 80% of the budget being consumed by 20% of items while 80% of the items of expense consume only 20% of it.

This, the consumption of about 20% of the budget being consumed by almost 80% of items, is known as tail spend. The percentages are illustrative. It could be 70:30 in some organizations and 90:10 in some others.

The 80:20 principle of management blends in nicely with the benefits many clients claim they get when they outsource to oWorkers. Some of them, especially from the US and Western Europe say they are able to reduce costs by almost 80% and bring them down to a level of 20% of pre-outsourcing costs.

 

What can be the issue with tail spends?

Why are we discussing it?

The issue that often arises with tail spend is that they can go unchecked. Since each item is small, it could escape scrutiny in a manner that large spends are usually put through, with the result that over a period of time they could add up and become a large number of unchecked or unscrutinized spending. Think corporate gifts. Think office products. Think display material. Think packaging and printing. Think transport. Think entertainment. Think office refreshments. Within each cost head there will be many transactions, of very small amounts.

This is not to say that small items of spending are not important. Quite the contrary, in fact. These items could be as critical to the functioning of the company as the larger items. The difference arises in their individual value, because of which they could escape the due diligence that larger items have to undergo.

With expense approving authorities as well as people responsible for procurement likely to be spending a lot of time and attention on items of high value, and understandably so; after all, it is their version of applying the 80:20 rule to advantage, it is no surprise that tail spends often suffer from inadequate management oversight.

Tail spend presents an opportunity for rationalizing spending and hence needs to be managed. While keeping costs under control is a good management practice in the best of times, when the headwinds of recession buffet the global economy, the relevance of managing tail spend efficiently becomes all the more important.

Led by a team of experts, with over 20 years of hands-on industry experience, oWorkers is geared to address client issues proactively, enabling them to focus on their core business.

 

Reasons contributing to the complexity of tail spend management

Management usually begins with measurement and tracking. “If it can be measured, it can be measured,” noted management gurus are reported to have stated on more than one occasion. And that is the one area, measurement, which presents significant challenges in the efforts at management of tail spends. The reasons could be many.

For one, the classification is not always consistent. It may be due to the significance, or lack of it, of the amount. Office vending machine supplies could be classified as entertainment expenses in one instance and office supplies in another. And the large number of categories and subcategories does not help.

Large organizations use many different systems. The systems used by vendors and clients also adds to the complexity. Often it is not possible to port data from one into the other application where the consolidation for tail spends might be taking place.

Exacerbating the challenge is another common organizational malaise, that of different units working in their respective silos, with the twain meeting only when forced to.

By consolidating processing with an outsourced supplier, such as oWorkers, many companies are able to reduce the complexity in tail spend management. oWorkers, in a short period of eight years, has acquired several accolades and is now recognized as one of the top three providers of data based BPO services in the world.

 

Managing tail spends

Whatever may be the challenges with tail spends, not managing them cannot be the solution. An organization, and the people through whom it operates, need to make efforts to squeeze every ounce of value from its revenues as well as expenses, in order that the business operates at its most optimum level.

What are the steps an organization should undertake with a view to better managing its tail spends?

Identifying the spends

Shooting in the dark does not produce good outcomes. The target needs to be clear and visible. Hence, an essential prerequisite to its effective management would be to identify tail spends, a part of the ‘measurement’ requirement discussed earlier.

Tail spends are general classified along the following lines, mostly based on value:

Tail Head – Items that could be classified as significant but not strategically managed thus far. For large organizations, a ballpark range of a million down to about a hundred thousand dollars can be used, assuming above a million will call for strategic management.

Tail Middle – Usually anything above $5,000 will creep into this section of the tail, with a cut off at the number that pushes it into the Tail Head.

Tail End (also known as Tail of Tail) – If you are spending less than $5,000 on a supplier or a certain item of cost, it should possibly classify as being a part of the tail of the tail. In other words, the lowest value items are included here.

Invisible (also known as Hidden) Tail – This consists of the one-off items that are above a million dollars but not being managed strategically.

Having consistently followed a policy of a multi-cultural and multi-national talent pool at work, oWorkers is now reaping its downwind benefit, one of which is an organically developed multi-lingual support team. oWorkers provides support in over 20 languages and can handle global operations for its clients, regardless of geography or language.

Business process improvement

Digital procurement systems are helpful in streamlining processes and ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks. These systems ensure that the transaction does not move forward until all requirements have been fulfilled and the appropriate authorization has been obtained. However, establishing and enforcing systems and processes are equally important. Employees participating in the process need to understand that the process is important.

The resultant could well be a global model of delivery, instead of varied processes being followed by small teams in different geographies. This could also allow the company to invest in qualigies, knowledgeable resources in procurement and tail spend management. In any case, it is expected to usher in an operating environment with superior information and processes.

oWorkers, on account of its positioning as premium employers in each of its delivery geographies, attract the best talent. This affords them the choice of choosing the right resources for various client projects. With the help of an independent training function, these resources are honed into production-ready resources for adding value to client projects.

Data analysis

In a company, an analysis is performed with an objective; usually it is to improve something. In case of tail spends, the objective, clearly, would be to reduce expenses. Analysis is likely to reveal opportunities such as:

  • Elimination of certain spends that are not adding value
  • Bulking up purchases for the benefit of better pricing
  • Entering into contracts with suppliers who are currently not under contract, for better terms
  • Retaining the best supplier where multiple suppliers are used for the same or similar products

Such an analysis could release efficiencies from the supply chain while reducing costs through an optimization of the number of transactions and suppliers.

oWorkers has cultivated relationships with a wide cross-section of technology companies.

How does it help?

oWorkers today is in a position to leverage the latest in technology through its partnerships, for deployment in client projects.

Technological innovations

Technology is everywhere. Tail spend management cannot be an exception. Digital technologies such as big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are diving into financial and accounting systems deeper and faster and unearthing information that was, hitherto, difficult to access. This is true for all spend management, and not limited to tail spends.

Digital support systems also deliver to an organization the ability to respond with alacrity and intelligence in any situation that is emerging that is different from the norm instead of responding in a hurry and trying to recover from the consequences later.

Spend analytics, used wisely, with the help of digital technologies, can significantly aid the process of operational management.

Known for operating out of super secure facilities that are ISO certified (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) keeps client data secure and builds confidence. Add their GDPR compliance and oWorkers becomes a compelling proposition for any project requiring technological excellence.

 

Tail spend management benefits

The pandemic has not made life any easier for many companies. That being said, it has brought into focus areas of work that were, possibly, not being as closely managed earlier as might have been needed. Tail spends could be one such area that is now receiving due attention. Actively managing tail spends could release benefits like rationalization of suppliers, including increasing the diversity pool, implementation of processes and advanced technologies as well as managing runaway expenses. Identification, analysis, deduplication, cleansing, artificial intelligence (AI) are some of the tools leveraged for creating value.

With a 24×7 operation, presence in major locations around the world, a global client list and exposure to multiple industries, oWorkers is the favored BPO partner for many companies, including large technology companies as well as unicorn marketplaces. We hope you will join them soon.

How to make a choice between an Inhouse CFO and a Virtual CFO

How to make a choice between an Inhouse CFO and a Virtual CFO

How to make a choice between an Inhouse CFO and a Virtual CFO

The business, or industry, it wishes to be a part of, is a choice for a company. Decision-makers, usually at the time a company is started, make that decision, keeping various factors such as strengths, weakness, market conditions, competition, etc. in mind. Of course, it is also possible that the company, to apply a term currently popular, pivots along the way to a different business or industry.

While the business may be a choice, what is not a choice for the company is certain activities it has to carry out. It could be termed as the cost of doing business, or the privilege of being in an environment where it is possible to set up and run a business. Mostly these are regulatory requirements, such as filing of tax returns, such as maintaining hygienic conditions at the workplace, such as paying compensation that adheres to the minimum wages stipulated by the government.

In order to fulfill these requirements, the company needs to hire resources who are experts in these respective areas, to ensure that the requirements are fulfilled and it does not have to face embarrassment as a result of any failure or non-compliance. These activities are often termed as ‘support’ functions. In other words, they support the main business of the company in the achievement of organizational goals. Some of these functions also have a role to play on competitive marketplaces on which the company might depend, such as HR in the talent marketplace.

Over time, these support functions also strive to create value for the organization, over and above the regulatory aspect of the role.    

oWorkers provides support not only for the business of clients, but also for their support functions. Our focus on data based BPO services has yielded rich dividends. Today, we are recognized as one of the top three providers in the world in our line of work. For an eight year old company, that is a creditable achievement.

 

The role of Finance

One of the support functions in most large companies is that of Finance. The Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who leads the Finance function, often has an important place at the leadership high table that comprises the most senior decision-makers in the company. It is, as it is called, a C-suite role.

It is not a surprise, since money constitutes the life-force that runs through the veins of an organization, and either infuses it with, or takes away from, the energy it needs to operate. The success, or failure, of a company, is defined in terms of money. It does not matter how many jobs your company has created, or how good its products are, until the financial statements show that it has made money, from a business standpoint the company has not been successful.

The CFO, along with the Finance function team, oversees the preparation of financial statements, reviews them and attempts to squeeze efficiencies out of the system by offering suggestions to the operational teams, tracks the funds situation in an effort to balance availability and requirement. Too much cash on the books might mean loss of interest or business opportunity. Too little cash might mean inability to pay bills on time. It interfaces with vendors and clients for invoices received as well as invoices raised. It has an important role to play in the success of the company.

Most business decisions are driven by money. With a pricing model that affords a choice to clients, oWorkers stands out from the crowd. Additionally, our ability to help our clients save up to 80% of their costs, is unsurpassed in the industry.

 

The CFO’s role

The role of a CFO is an established one in the organization structure of a company. It does not need to be justified. Most large organizations, with a sufficiently large business, are likely to have a qualified, well-compensated specialist occupying the role.

Smaller companies, though, struggle in this respect. Often, they do not have the business volumes and financial muscle to be able to afford a qualified CFO in the role. This struggle of the not-so-big companies could have created early interest in the concept of part-time or virtual CFOs.

They need the expertise but they don’t have the money to pay for it. What should they do?

Hire a virtual CFO?

What is a virtual CFO?

The core concept is that the person playing the role is not dedicated to your company. In other words, he or she is not a full-time employee. He/she provides either a fixed amount of time to your company or is engaged on the basis of defined responsibility areas, and compensated accordingly. He/she is free to ply his/her trade in a similar manner with other companies. Of course, there would need to be a clear understanding in order to ensure that business information and interest is not compromised. 

An inhouse, or full time CFO operates as an employee of the company and is available completely to focus on the company’s requirements, without distraction from other competing work engagements.

oWorkers operates with both inhouse employed resources as well as short-term hires taken on a contract. Even freelancers are hired for specific assignments. The rapidly evolving, competitive world requires fleet-footedness. Virtual resources can provide an edge in this situation. Even for its clients, oWorkers, with its close ties with local communities, can hire resources at short notice; almost a hundred additional within 48 hours.

 

Choosing between a virtual CFO and an inhouse CFO

What are some of the factors that should be considered while making a choice between a virtual or an inhouse CFO?

Availability and convenience

In business, time is of the essence. Decisions need to be taken quickly. In house resources are available at all times, facilitating the process of decision-making. A virtual CFO, on the other hand, will either be available at designated times, or not available. This could slow down the process of decision-making. Moreover, for the CEO, or the board, having an in-house CFO could be an added convenience, who could be called upon for a discussion or explanation when needed.

With all centers of oWorkers equipped to operate on a 24×7 schedule, you will never be delayed because of lack of availability of your oWorkers team.

Cost

For small and medium sized companies, cost often becomes an important criterion when making the choice between the two. A CFO is a highly paid professional, possessing a highly regarded educational qualification, with experience in most cases. Younger professionals with little or nil experience of work may not be considered for the virtual CFO roles. It is not unusual for CFOs to draw upwards of $300K annually in the US.

While large companies, with substantial revenues, a wide operational base and complex organizational hierarchy, hiring a full-time CFO is often justified, as the CFO is able to create adequate value to justify the cost. With smaller companies, that may not be possible. Often, the business is not spread widely enough or is not complex enough for a CFO to devote his/her entire time to just that company. Hence, many smaller companies tend to opt for virtual CFOs.

Confidentiality and data integrity

Information is a key asset of a business. For inhouse resources, who do not have competing work requirements, it is a straightforward task to remember who they work for and their responsibility with regard to data that is valuable for their employer.

When a resource, however, is working for more than one employer, even though each of the companies have taken due care to ensure that the person has signed and accepted relevant confidentiality agreements, the possibility of data being compromised is much higher, even though the act may be inadvertent or unknowingly done.

Of course, the possibility of data being compromised with ulterior motives is perhaps the same in both situations, hence not a factor in this discussion.

Client data is secure in the secure facilities & protocols used by oWorkers. Our ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015) and GDPR compliance will further strengthen the security of your sensitive data.

Staying current and relevant

Each individual has limitations. After all, how much can one person handle? One of the requirements of any senior role in a specialized function in a company is to stay current with the changes taking place, either in the environment, or with regard to competitors, or in respect of regulations and laws. Experts keep track of developments, develop communities of similar professionals, participate in events and discussions in an effort to stay abreast.

A virtual CFO, on the other hand, while needing to stay relevant, might benefit from the presence of a team, either that supports him/her, or in the form of other similar professionals, all of them working for an accounting firm that offers virtual CFO services to companies. Together, they have the advantage of a natural community that can feed off each other and bring the most value to the companies they work for.

Under the steady hands of a leadership team that has several decades of hands-on industry experience, oWorkers stays in tune with developments impacting their industries as well as the various client industries.

 

Who should be a virtual CFO

Being a role that requires professional experience and the right educational background, newcomers to the field are unlikely to be accepted as virtual CFOs. They need to work for a company in a capacity that enables them to get the experience that will enable them to operate as a CFO in future.

Alternatively, fresh accounting graduates could join an accounting firm and through them provide services to clients, thus gaining experience.

It is, therefore, an accepted practice that experienced accounting professionals are the only ones likely to be considered for, and accepted in, the role of a virtual CFO.

With its policy of a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic workplace, oWorkers, as a natural outcome, has got the benefit of a multi-lingual one too. It is able to offer an organically developed ability to serve in over 20 languages.

 

The role of Accounting firms

Accounting firms are boldly going where they have not gone before. They have been scouting for opportunities to bolster sagging top line growth in the wake of a slew of DIY accounting software applications hitting the market. Value added services seems to be the go-to place for most firms, adding value to the business of their clients rather than merely helping them complete the compliance related tasks such as filing tax returns and audits.

Virtual CFO is becoming a prominent service for firms seeking to grow. They already have smart accountants who have been working with clients. In a way, they were already playing, somewhat informally, the role of a virtual CFO for many small and medium-sized companies. With the acceptability of virtual CFOs growing, they have a ready product to offer, complete with a team behind the CFO that is ready to do the heavy lifting. With many capable accounting heads becoming available to SMEs, they are addressing complex situations fast. Moreover, with this arrangement, they are not reliant on one head.

oWorkers has pioneered the concept of forging long-term relationships with other industries, such as technology, that can be leveraged for delivery to its clients. Accounting firms can learn from oWorkers and develop relationships with industries and companies that will benefit from their services.

 

Conclusion

The virtual CFO has opened new doors of efficiency and effectiveness for many companies. They need to welcome virtual CFOs and learn to take decisions in the absence of an inhouse CFO. Virtual CFOs need to deliver and meet and exceed client expectations even as they take them to places they have not been before.

Data analysis and interpretation, cost reduction, revenue enhancement, there are many areas where virtual CFOs can add value, even taking companies to places they may never have thought about, such as sustainability accounting.

The BPO industry is dependent on people for its work. oWorkers, recognized as a credible employer in each of its delivery locations, can draw walk-in candidates at will. In fact, we have to turn back many when we don’t have open positions. We are registered as local companies in all our service locations. We pay social and local taxes for our employees who rate us 4.6 or more, on a scale of 5, on external platforms such as Glassdoor.

How the cloud can help finance and accounting create value

How the cloud can help finance and accounting create value

How the cloud can help finance and accounting create value

In a business, it eventually boils down to the financials.

What does?

The job of keeping track of money, which constitutes the bloodstream of an organization and allows it to function, and eventually determining whether the business is making or losing money. In other words, whether it is a worthwhile enterprise at all. Hence, the Finance and Accounting (F&A) function can be considered to be a central function in any organization.

Not only does it safeguard money and keep track of it and ensures it is used wisely through its involvement in employees getting compensated correctly and in a timely manner, contractors and other suppliers being paid fairly and in reasonable time, keeping track of accounts receivables and raising red flags where required, and many others, it is pushing for a position for itself at the high table with its ability to delve into the large amount of financial information it collects, and draw out insights that can facilitate strategic decision making.

 

Why does F&A not get its due when it is time to innovate?

Each company has a business and business model through which they seek to add value to the world and, in doing so, make profits that can be returned to the business owners. Some provide insurance, some dig for coal, some operate shipping fleets, some run hospitals and some make furniture. The list is endless.

Through one or more of these activities, which form its core business, a company generates revenue which enables it to meet the costs it incurs and leave enough over as profits. The primary focus of the company is on revenue generation which translates to greater focus in terms of senior management attention as well as priority for investment dollars.

In order to run a business, it needs to carry out several activities that could be called operational or support functions. Some support functions are in the nature of compliance, with the need for adherence to the laws of the land, such as filing income tax and other returns, while others are competitive activities that need to be carried out because the company is a participant in a competitive business environment. Resource hiring is an example of this, where many companies might be vying for the same resources.

Traditionally, support functions have lagged revenue generating functions in the attention of top management as well as in their ability to attract investment dollars. So, while F&A is not singled out for this step-brotherly treatment, it does form a part of the functions that end up with the raw end of the stick.

The result?

F&A is often left to navigate the complex lanes of business with legacy systems, mostly operating with on-premise or on-site hardware and software, while the world is racing away to cloud technology.

There is often a price to pay. The F&A teams struggle with the demands of an ever-changing world, struggle to integrate data with other applications, struggle to report and struggle to meet changing requirements of regulators. Manual work increases. Errors creep in. Eventually, it is a cost to the business.

oWorkers remains one of the most reliable partners for data-based support with its ability to attract and retain talent, a key requirement for any BPO. As a preferred employer in each of its delivery locations, oWorkers attracts walk-in talent which provides it with a choice that few others have. This also results in lower costs as it does not have to advertise to attract talent, which eventually reflects in the pricing.

 

F&A on cloud can change this

Cloud solutions have emerged in all spheres of activity. F&A is not an exception.

However, the adoption of cloud solutions in F&A have so far been led by the objective of cost-saving, and hence has been limited to what might be referred to as minor automation and process improvement initiatives. And this may well be a legacy of F&A being classified as a support function in the language of business.

If the function manages to overcome this mindset, opportunities seem to abound, especially for innovation in the function that will, eventually, benefit the company that uses its services. However, the frame of reference may need to change. Instead of looking for processes within the function that can be considered as ‘ready’ to move to the cloud, which might be a blinkered approach and limit adoption, function leaders may need to look inwards from the outside. In other words, they need to look at what the cloud has to offer, and then identify the functions and processes that they ought to move in order that the function and company benefit.

It must be borne in mind that today’s cloud is not the same as yesterday’s cloud. It has also evolved. For one, the security issues that seemed to be the bugbear of cloud, now seem to be a thing of the past. In fact, the shoe is on the other foot now. Many experts opine that the cloud today is safer and more resilient than on-premise tools and technologies.

Whether on cloud or any other technology, the requirement of people processing remains. With volumes unpredictable, oWorker’s ability to cater to short-term peaks remains a standout ability. It is able to provide almost a hundred additional headcount within 48 hours, saving substantial money for clients who would otherwise need to retain extra staff in anticipation of some volume surges.

 

How the cloud can help F&A

F&A leaders are moving ahead with cloud-based strategies, to create a comprehensive, standardized solution for their function, instead of adopting a piece-meal approach and taking one small step at a time.

How does the cloud help them?

Brings the enterprise closer to deliver better outcomes

With the help of a comprehensive, or transformational, move to the cloud, the company gets a centralized, automated system that tears down efficiency-impairing walls between different sub-functions and allows data to be used in its fullness. No longer do you need to painstakingly piece together information from multiple sources to create a picture. Now, all data being available at a single source makes the process of drawing upon it to reveal insights a much more straightforward task. Moreover, depending upon what else the enterprise has on the cloud, it becomes that much simpler to weave in even multi-functional data for the insights.

Within an organization, F&A is often looked upon with suspicion. Other departments feel that while they do all the work, F&A just churns some numbers and tells them why they are not doing a good job. Effectively, moving to the cloud can help bring the F&A function closer to other stakeholders in the organization with the eventual goal of delivering superior business outcomes.

With all centers able to work a 24×7 schedule, oWorkers is available when a client, or their customers, need them. This further expands the clients’ ability to deliver superior outcomes.

Advanced cloud computing makes it easy

Moving to the cloud is tantamount to moving to a higher plane of technology. It delivers all that one expects technology to deliver, such as automation, process improvement, better experience for people interfacing with it, such as employees and customers, and then some more.

Today’s cloud is delivering even more. It delivers a unified experience that on-premise technologies were not able to. It is enabling insights and forecasts to be made more accurately than ever before. It is delivering a wholesome experience for the business and for the function while being flexible in terms of output formats as well as its ability to personalize the experience. It is all available for F&A to leverage and deliver.

With super secure facilities & protocols for your data security, further strengthened with ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015), oWorkers is an ideal partner in your journey. What is more, oWorkers is also GDPR compliant.

It facilitates work-from-anywhere

The Covid-19 pandemic has made some fundamental changes to the way we live and work. Work-from-home, which was a chimera till then, suddenly became a possibility and a reality. Perhaps, necessity being the mother of invention was never as well understood as it was when it became impossible to work from physical office locations and work-from-home, and even work-from-anywhere gained wide acceptability and currency. There was no choice. Period.

If the world had stayed wedded to on-premise solutions, it is not very difficult to predict that companies would have been severely handicapped in their ability to continue operations, which they were able to, fairly seamlessly, with on-cloud installations.

Companies are acknowledging reaching new levels of efficiency and employee satisfaction with the new cloud-based operating model that permits seamless collaboration and constant availability in a secure environment. A virtual cloud-based workplace lends itself much more easily to supervision than a physical workplace, making it a more efficient arrangement when compared to traditional solutions. For F&A, it could make the difference between errors and accuracy.

With a multi-cultural and multi-national workforce, a conscious strategy, oWorkers is able to provide multi-lingual support across its three delivery locations. This enables support for not only clients and their customers but also for employees since the hiring locations have expanded across the globe.

Self-learning and self-healing, gives cloud the edge

Advancing technologies often feed off each other. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cloud are a good example. The cognitive capabilities that AI is able to embed into cloud solutions, enable self-correcting action on part of modern systems, including triggering alerts to their human minders when they see some roadblocks coming up. This is a sea change from yesterday’s technologies which normally turned out to be an analysis of why something had gone wrong.

In the hyper-competitive world we are in today, innovations are often pushed through without adequate proof of their readiness to deploy. The self-healing cloud infrastructure is giving confidence to decision-makers to push these innovations through, limiting the damage and allowing for repairs and corrective actions before it all goes belly-up.

With tech company relationships that have been forged over a long period, oWorkers is in the unique position of accessing and deploying the latest technologies for client projects.

Doing it faster, doing it big

Speed is of the essence. When you see a competitive advantage, you have to move in quickly and mop up before anyone else has had an opportunity to react. Take theater releases for movies as an example. A few decades back a movie would get a limited number of shows and the popular ones would keep running for months and years till interest finally waned. Cut to today. Movies get massive releases and number of shows. Everyone who has interest could potentially watch it in the first couple of weeks after which it just vanishes for the next big movie to do the same thing. Mop up while it is new and then make an exit.

Cloud is enabling F&A teams to react to market and regulatory changes at unprecedented speed. With operational functions like reconciliation and reporting being efficiently handled by the cloud, the smart minds that populate many F&A teams get a chance to exercise their gray cells in the direction of value creation, growth, innovation and transformation.

With clients from around the world, including unicorn marketplaces and a large number of technology companies, oWorkers has the experience to do it fast and do it big. Our clients, especially the ones from the US and Western Europe, testify to savings over 80% when they outsource to us.

Automating controls

How about automation of controls that would normally be handled by people? With the cloud you can; embed rules, alerts and checklists and such like.

And why not? At some point even controls become routine and may be automatable. This releases the human minders from the drudgery of controls and lets them move to focus on strategy and decision-making and charting out a path for the future success of the business. Cloud technologies might even be able to involve the human minders when a decision is needed.

Our leadership team, that has over 20 years of hands-on experience in the industry, knows a thing or two about control and leadership. They are hands-on without being hands-on.  

 

Summary

From an operational and regulatory support function, F&A has evolved into a hotbed of strategic analysis and direction-setting. The insights it is able to generate are awaited by the CEO. The CFO is one of the closest allies of the CEO when he seeks to mine financial information in a bid to set the strategy and direction for the company. The faster CFOs are able to transform their functions with the leveraging of cloud technologies, the faster they can hope to move to the strategic roles many of their counterparts in large corporations are already playing.

How cloud technology can revolutionize your finance and accounting function

How cloud technology can revolutionize your finance and accounting function

How cloud technology can revolutionize your finance and accounting function

The ‘cloud’ is busy revolutionizing legacy business processes.

What exactly is the ‘cloud,’ or ‘cloud computing?’

The on-demand delivery of computing resources over the world wide web is referred to as cloud computing. It provides on-demand IT resources such as storage and computing power and obviates the need to buy, own, maintain and upgrade physical resources such as servers and data centers. With usage being need-based and usually on a pay-as-you-go scheme, it even works out cheaper for companies using it, apart from its other benefits.

 

Cloud computing in Finance and Accounting

One of the business areas where cloud computing has been able to deliver benefits and efficiencies is finance and accounting. It has taken away the need for installing accounting software on office computers and allowed companies to focus on the actual work, rather than worrying about infrastructural issues such as servers and databases and physical location and security, etc.

It has not only enabled automation of hitherto manual processes, but also enabled organizations to access advanced functionalities such as analytics, rich veins of information that supports strategic decision-making. And it is an ongoing process, allowing access to technological advancements and software improvements as they happen.

Of course, access to the cloud is over the internet, which could have more failure points than an intranet. As a mitigant, however, most telecom providers secure their internet connections through multiple channels and routes.

Already counted as one of the top three providers in the world in data based BPO services, its chosen area of operations, oWorkers is equipped to provide support to clients in a wide variety of functions, such as invoice processing, social media moderation and finance and accounting.

 

How does cloud computing benefit F&A

Process efficiency and cost saving are generic terms that are applied each time a business case needs to be made. Is cloud computing delivering benefits to finance and accounting merely a passing fad and mirage, or does it actually deliver real benefits?

Access to the updated version at all times

Whether in F&A or elsewhere, service providers on the cloud also operate in the same competitive environment like everyone else. They need to ensure that their product is relevant and updated and useful at all times, in order to receive interest from customers.

Cloud services are regularly updated by the service providers. In the case of F&A, as an example, if the regulation changes resulting in a different formula for calculation of the tax liability, the service provider will ensure it is reflected in their software so that users are not impacted. This saves hundreds and thousands of users the hassle of updating their systems if they were using standalone, server-based applications.

The availability of updated finance and accounting software on the cloud sounds like the oWorkers up time, which is 24×7. All delivery centers of oWorkers are geared to work continuously, depending on client requirement of turnaround time.

Security of data

In the early days, cloud services suffered on account of security concerns, since transactions were carried out over the internet, and appeared to be outside the control of the company carrying them out. There were concerns that once they leave the ‘eyesight’ of the company, it will not be in a position to control access, resulting in theft and misuse.

With the benefits of the cloud being apparent, service providers have worked hard to ensure that security related issues were addressed. In fact, the shoe seems to be on the other foot now. With near foolproof security and backup systems in place, events like crashing laptops and server damage have ceased to be issues of concern any more for companies using the cloud. They just need to ensure that they hand out the right access levels to employees, and a robust connection to the cloud. The rest, the cloud will handle.

With oWorkers, security of client data is always an uppermost concern. It operates out of super secure facilities & protocols for client data security, and is ISO certified (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). And, if that is not enough, it is also GDPR compliant.

Better utilization of technical resources

As the article in Forbes commented, “Every company is a technology company, no matter what product or service it provides.” And that was five years ago. The strength of that argument would have only increased in the last five years. Technical resources are in high demand, not only for creating applications, but for technology support functions like server maintenance, backups and software upgrades. With a move to the cloud, many of these activities move to the centralized cloud, out of the scope of individual companies using the cloud.

If we were to assume that there would be thousands of companies earlier using standalone technology employing several people each who have now moved to the cloud, it would be a staggering saving for the companies and a huge release of qualified manpower to perform other, value-added tasks.

The other aspect is that cloud technologies tend to be robust, as they are built for a wide spectrum of users, and, for a function like F&A, which places a high value on accuracy, they would provide additional safeguards that would automate some of the error identification and rectification processes, adding to the efficient utilization of resources.

As an established, credible employer, oWorkers attracts job seekers right through the year. This not only gives them access to the choicest talent for all client projects, it also helps them save money in advertising to attract resources, which eventually becomes visible in the pricing they are able to offer. In addition, they are also able to offer resources at short notice to enable clients to tide over unforeseen volume spikes, almost an additional hundred within 48 hours.

Pay per use suits all pockets

When you buy a software, it can only be bought whole. You cannot buy 10 percent or 20 percent of it because you are a small company. At times, you may even need to defer buying a productivity-enhancing software because your scale of operations cannot justify the investment, and continue with the mickey-mouse systems your company might be using.

The ability to pay per use, or pay for as much or as little your use might be, is one of the significant advantages of cloud technology. As a business expands, so does the operation of its finance and accounting function that needs to keep pace. With the cloud, the F&A team can continue to expand its operations, from a small start, without worrying about buying more capacity or more servers or more infrastructure. Features can also often be added on a ‘demand’ basis by asking for it and paying the upgraded subscription fee.

Many of the global clients of oWorkers testify to substantial savings, the ones from North America and Western Europe more than the others. They often claim to save almost 80% of their pre-outsourcing costs. In addition, the uniqueness of oWorkers offering them a choice between different charging methods is appreciated by all.

Automation

Based on the capability of the cloud technology subscribed to, the F&A team could successfully automate hitherto manual functions, such as data entry, invoice reminders and reporting. Automation has a beneficial impact on adherence as the probability of errors reduces, with a suitably teed-up alert management system that alerts the management when exceptions are encountered. 

A related benefit automation delivers is the reduction in paper processing. Finance and Accounting have traditionally been paper-intensive processes, as they have a need to maintain vouchers and records for every activity in an effort to account for every dollar of the company’s money. Even the residual paper can be converted to images to facilitate storage and retrieval.

Having built relationships with technology companies, today oWorkers is in a position to leverage these relationships and access the latest computing technologies, where applicable, to live client projects.

Easier compliance

F&A is a function that emanates from requirements of compliance. Every jurisdiction places statutory responsibilities on companies such as filing of tax returns, and, obviously, accuracy and honesty in reporting. Cloud accounting services are designed to reduce errors and support the compliance requirements of subscribing organizations, in an environment that is increasingly becoming more complex, with cross-jurisdiction (across boundaries and regulatory systems) increasing as trade barriers fall and the world becomes a smaller place. They even provide resources through which people working for multinational organizations who need to cross these boundaries, can also manage their personal taxation responsibilities with ease and accuracy.

oWorkers pays social and local taxes for its employees and operates as a locally registered entity in each of its delivery locations. It is well capitalized and has a track record of profitability as well as regulatory compliance.

Bespoke usage

One of the challenges to cloud technologies in the earlier days was that the user would be forced to comply with one standard method of usage of the platform. Hence, if their business had any peculiarity or the company required anything that was not standard, it would only be provided by a standalone version of the software, customized to their requirement.

But that is history now. Modern cloud technologies are no longer ‘take it or leave it’ services. They are menu and choice-driven applications that afford a wide choice to users. In a way, the aspect of choice and being different is pre-coded into their DNA. Hence, being different is no longer difficult, or even expensive. It might be as easy as pushing a few buttons here and there.

As a provider to global corporations, oWorkers multilingual capability is often in demand. It can provide support in over 20 languages. Cloud based finance and accounting applications recognize this need and most are in a position to cater to it.

 

Concluding remarks

Cloud-based accounting solutions are a product whose time has arrived. They will enable users to create efficient, cost-effective and compliant procedures. In a rapidly changing world, it is increasingly important to ensure that you are in step with the times; else, decline can be rapid. The F&A function, with the help of cloud technologies, can become a value-accretive function in an organization and support managerial decision-making with data and analytical insights.

With a management team that has over 20 years of hands-on industry experience, and a staff complement that is employed, unlike some of their competitors who prefer to rely on contractors and freelancers, clients can make the most of cloud accounting offerings with the help of oWorkers.

Digital implementation challenges and solutions for mortgage lenders

Digital implementation challenges and solutions for mortgage lenders

Digital implementation challenges and solutions for mortgage lenders

Lowering of interest rates by governments around the world in the wake of the onset of the pandemic led to an increase in demand for mortgages from buyers and provided some relief to borrowers impacted by low demand in the depressed economic conditions. This is not to say that the pall of gloom that had enveloped mortgage lenders lifted completely. Though it was certainly helpful for the demand side issues to have been taken care of, their struggle for profitability continued.

According to a survey conducted by Fannie Mae during the period, changing customer expectations and competition from other sources of lending, along with rising rates, changing market conditions, and a lack of supply of units, were the primary reasons that contributed to the difficult operating conditions faced by mortgage lenders leading to erosion of margins.

However, as always in a competitive marketplace, every challenge is also an opportunity. As they say, one man’s meat is, or can be, another’s poison.

With physical movement restricted and shelter-in-place and lockdown policies in force in many parts of the world, if there is one clear message the pandemic gave to businesses was that what can be done digitally should be done digitally.

This has given a fillip to the pace of digitization in many industries. If there is a silver lining in the tough market conditions for the mortgage industry, it is that it might have smoothened the decision-making process for digitization, in many companies.

The leadership team of oWorkers, with several decades of hands-on experience in the industry, are known for their swift decision-making. They have guided oWorkers, as well as the projects of many global clients, decisively and capably, during difficult economic conditions.

 

Benefits of digitization need little recounting

It is probably an anachronistic question considering that digitization, already gathering speed over the last few decades, has picked up even more pace after the pandemic and pushed companies to digitize what can be digitized, but needs to be answered by each company for itself. That is the question of the value digitization will bring to it. It is an investment, after all, and whether it will yield a reasonable return is a fair question for any business to ask before making a commitment.

While each company may need to work out specific numbers for themselves, at the overall industry level, it could be stated that digitization has been found to improve the service provided to customers, create efficiencies in processing and even improve the process of revenue generation through smoother customer acquisition and onboarding processes. The success of fintech companies, driven by cutting-edge software, underscores this point. Consumer surveys also reveal a preference for choosing technology-driven fintech providers over traditional mortgage lenders for similar services.

If you take an even higher global view of the benefits of digitization, it can automate several repetitive tasks, reducing errors present in manual dependence, and even reducing cost through rationalization of manpower as tasks get automated.

Through its partnerships with technology companies, oWorkers has created an access path for itself and its clients to leverage cutting-edge technologies for the delivery of projects and assignments. On account of its spread across providers, a large number of applications can be accessed.

 

Challenges will always be there

Running a business in a competitive environment is challenging. At no point in time can one sit back, confident that it will now run on its own steam. In a world where everyone is smart, newer technologies, products, and processes are upping the level of the game all the time. Technology is no different. What was good yesterday might be a liability today. You need to constantly keep exploring, evaluating, and implementing.

The digitization journey comes with its own set of challenges. The first step to finding a solution for challenges and addressing them is to recognize them. Once recognized, suitable solutions can be found. In some cases, the result might also be a recognition that the challenge is, indeed, a genuine one, and the associated impact taken into account while working out a cost-benefit of the investment.

The mortgage industry, like other industries, also faces challenges as constituent companies seek to digitize their operations.

What are some of these challenges?

Desire to retain status quo

No change is painless. Starting with the most basic one, it is a human tendency to seek status quo and resist change. Don’t we all know it? On occasion, technology might also seem like a threat, putting livelihoods at risk. There is an apocryphal story about the representative of a bank that has just upgraded its systems, apologizing to a customer for poor service and saying, “What can we do sir? You see, we have just upgraded our systems.” This was the representative’s way of telling the customer that the upgraded systems are useless and he does not support them.

Even clients, used to a certain comfort with an extant method of operation, could have apprehensions and push back. They could also harbor concerns about sharing sensitive information through digital methods.

With its super secure facilities & protocols designed to promote security of data, and ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015), oWorkers has created an operating environment designed to quell client concerns regarding the security of information. Adding further comfort is the GDPR compliance of oWorkers.

Customer focus at the expense of employees

A customer is what a business exists for. This is a truism. If there is no customer there is no revenue. Without revenue, there is no existence of a business. Hence, prima facie, a correct position.

The challenge often arises when the customer focus is to the exclusion of the other community on which the functioning of the business depends, the employee. Employees are there in the company for a purpose; they will be carrying out all the various tasks that need to be done to ensure that the company can generate revenues. Companies that ignore the processing side requirements while digitizing could end up creating a deep chasm between what they offer to customers and what their delivery capability actually is. It is important to ensure coordinated and aligned digital development.

Drawing the best resources in each of their delivery locations thanks to their pre-eminent position as leading employers, oWorkers provides training to each employee with the help of an independent training team, including training on the systems. Once ready, they are released into the team handling processing for a particular client, depending on the assessed best fit.

A disconnected digitization strategy

Digital pathways often act as the nervous system of a company and connect the various moving parts together through the flow of information. The implementation of such a system requires vision and a strategy. That is what top leadership is expected to contribute, not the handling of day-to-day transactions. It is also expected to not only provide guidance but communicate across the organization and ensure that there is buy-in and broad consensus on the strategy.

In the absence of a clear strategy and vision articulating the value of digitization to the company, and of buy-in from stakeholders, a fragmented implementation can result, limiting the benefits of digitization and creating resistance against doing more of it. While approving authorities, with bottomline responsibilities, may see the benefit, it is important that others see it too. In the case of large organizations operating in multiple geographies, the issues of local flavors and requirements also need to be adequately addressed so that they can serve the purpose it is intended to.

oWorkers is able to serve its clients in over 20 languages. This has been made possible by its relentless commitment to the creation of a truly global team that is both multinational as well as multicultural. This strategy has yielded an organic dividend in the form of a workforce that is also multilingual.

Change management inadequacy

In large companies, the conceptualization and evaluation of such initiatives are usually done by small, specialized, empowered teams, leaving others to continue to run the business.

At implementation time, however, everyone needs to be involved. Either they need to be trained on new processes, or data conversion is required, or a change in jobs and roles, or something else. Implementation is usually done under the umbrella of a discipline known as ‘change management’ in large companies. It is expected to ensure that the disruption, expected because of a change in systems and processes, is minimized, and all stakeholders, clients, employees, vendors, and regulators, are taken into account and confidence, to the extent they need to be.

With a team and supporting systems that can operate on a 24×7 schedule, oWorkers is able to eliminate the cracks that emerge during any change process, including that of transitioning processes from a client to its BPO provider.

 

Solutions usually suggest themselves

In many cases, the process of identifying the challenge itself yields answers to the often vexed issue of how those challenges are to be surmounted. Mortgage lenders ought to have a reasonably clear path and strategy regarding digitization, of course, not accounting for the company-level peculiarities and contradictions that they need to handle in addition.

Communication

Though classified as a ‘soft’ skill, the power of communication can never be exaggerated. And, the larger the company, the greater its relevance. Consistent communication regarding the value the digitization effort will add, encouraging feedback and queries, making an effort to respond to them, and highlighting the role each individual is expected to play, are essential prerequisites. The same, with some exceptions, should be followed for customers as well.

It helps that oWorkers supports clients with the help of employees, and not contractors and freelancers, as some of its competitors do. This enables employees to become steeped in the culture of the company as well as that of the client they support, which comes in handy whenever a digitization effort is underway.

Clear strategy

The strategy needs to define the sections of the value chain that will be addressed by the present effort. Though end-to-end is ideal, it is not always possible, owing to investment constraints as well as complexity and risk. For the sections that are in scope, the processing side of the work should be given as much importance as the customer-facing one. Handoffs between digital and manual need to be clearly defined and managed.

As a pure-play BPO specializing in providing data based services, the strategy of oWorkers is clear and has always been. It helps in avoiding wastage in its interaction with new and prospective clients.

Compliance

Glitches in technology can be costly, as they can lead to large volumes of information being compromised. The security-related aspects of digitization need as much focus as the processing side.

oWorkers pays local and social taxes for its employees and supports their career growth. It regularly gets feedback and scores exceeding 4.6, on a scale of 5, on external platforms like Glassdoor, from existing as well as past employees.

 

Conclusion

In order to get the benefit of efficiency, cost containment, and efficiently processing high volumes, mortgage lenders are exploring digitization possibilities in their companies. While desirable, the road to digitization can be tricky and winding. They need to make themselves aware of the challenges that lie on this road, and the most effective ways of handling them.

Many global clients have formed successful partnerships with oWorkers, some before their digitization journey, some during it, and some even after. oWorkers brings a tried and trusted project and change management process into play that has contributed to the success of its many engagements, without adding to the price point.

The Right KPIs for Effective Management of Accounts Payable

The Right KPIs for Effective Management of Accounts Payable

The Right KPIs for Effective Management of Accounts Payable

“If you can measure it, you can manage it.”

These famous words are attributed to Peter Drucker, one of the best-known gurus of management. As are the inverse words, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

These words have been taken to heart by every business and corporation all over the world. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or Key Result Areas (KRAs) or the more simply stated Objectives and Goals, are used to set expectations and measure performance.

KPIs are important for an individual employee to understand the expectation the organization has from him/her. It provides clarity to the role that is assigned. Some organizations go a step further and also define the resources and constraints while the employee works towards delivering on these KPIs.

KPIs have become critical in managing large, distributed organizations, both at the individual level as well as the consolidated team, function/division and company level. It provides a bird’s eye view to the management about the functioning of the different moving parts, indicating the areas which require a deeper dive.

In the data based BPO services space that oWorkers operates, the relevance of setting up KPIs cannot be overstated. In the diverse set of contracts that oWorkers has with clients from around the world, KPIs play a key role in tracking progress and commercial outcomes. KPI-based measurement systems have contributed to the growth of oWorkers and its recognition amongst the best BPO providers in the world.

 

Managing Accounts Payable with the help of KPIs

The Accounts Payable function in an organization is an important unit that handles a critical part of the business, the paying out of money to suppliers. It interfaces with external parties, suppliers, and hence needs to ensure that the company is not put in a position where key suppliers become unfavorably disposed towards you, leading to supply-side issues for the company. It needs to ensure that the company’s money is used judiciously and paid out only when necessary and in a manner that furthers the organizational goals and mission. It receives invoices and acts on them. It needs to maintain a high level of accuracy so that the financial statements prepared by the company reflect an accurate picture.

How does one ensure that the AP function is able to operate efficiently and deliver?

Creating a set of KPIs that reflect their responsibilities and deliverables is normally a great starting point, as it is for almost all functions of the company.

In order that KPIs do not suffer from the shortcomings that sometimes creep in on account of it becoming a tick-box exercise, like KPIs becoming unreasonable or unrealistic, it is important that they be set up with care and after due consideration and discussions with stakeholders.

BPO is a people-based business. oWorkers is uniquely placed in each of its operating areas by being recognized as one of the best employers, drawing jobseekers to their doors, instead of having to go and find them. This has been made possible through working as a part of the local community. Their ability to set expectations through KPIs, where each individual knows the expectation from him/her, as well as being able to track and reward people for performance based on the same KPIs, has stood them in good stead.

 

Recommended KPIs for Accounts Payable

The wheel does not need to be invented again and again. It has been invented and available for our use.

Yours is not the first organization to set up KPIs for the AP function. Many larger, more successful ones have been doing it for years. Based on their experience and learnings with KPIs for the function, five KPIs stand out as the right choice for the AP team.

Invoice processing cost

If you were asked to pick one key function, the most important one, for the team, what would it be? In most companies it is likely to be that of invoice processing. If that is the case, then it would make sense to build some of the KPIs around this key process.

AP being a support function, one that performs a certain part of the processing that enables revenue generation through the sales and marketing efforts, cost management is a desirable goal for the team. While cost at the team level should be tracked, performance is better indicated through a unit cost-based measure such as invoice processing cost. When a company is able to track the cost per invoice, it also facilitates the process of benchmarking against others, either in the industry or even outside, and picking up best practices for creating cost efficiencies.

Most clients, especially the ones from Western Europe and North America, vouch for the cost efficiency of oWorkers and note savings of almost 80% when they outsource work to them. The oWorkers practice of offering a choice between billing methods is also much loved by clients.

Invoice processing time

Just as the unit cost becomes a measure of cost efficiency that can be benchmarked, the time taken to process becomes a measure of time or processing efficiency that will facilitate benchmarking against others and picking up best practices. Here we are talking about the elapsed time, from start to finish, being measured, not the total time consumed in processing across various touchpoints.

As with cost, processing time per invoice is also a straightforward measure that is transparent and easy to understand. For the calculation, the time taken up to the final approval should be taken into account, assuming that the release of payment, thereafter, is a purely operational process that will happen when it needs to happen. Tracking this measure can identify inefficiencies in the system such as errors in processing, that tend to elongate the processing cycle, thereby reducing the number of invoices that are processed in a given unit of time. Delays can result in financial impact not only by increasing the processing overhead but also by reducing opportunities for earning early payment and other discounts offered by suppliers.

With each of their centers being able to work on a 24×7 schedule, the speed of processing stops being an issue when oWorkers becomes a delivery partner.

Invoices processed per employee

Employees are a critical part of any organization. Moreover, often, the initial part of invoice processing in most organizations is likely to be manual. The reason is simple; the invoice received for payment has been generated either manually or by the technology tools used by the supplier, which are not connected to the AP tools used by your company. Hence, at least the initial data entry, making the invoice amenable to be processed in your AP systems, is manual, requiring manual intervention for which people are needed. Hence, it becomes important to establish the human resources being consumed in the activity. This measures the time taken across various touchpoints in the process.

The effort is to keep the metric simple and straightforward. It is recommended that this be a simple quotient of dividing the number of invoices processed in a given period of time, by the number of employees in the department, or mandays contributed by people to the department.

With a philosophy of working with employees, and not freelancers and contractors that are preferred by some of their competitors, getting employees to scale up has been the hallmark of oWorkers delivery. They pay social and local taxes for employees and are regularly rated 4.6 or more, on a scale of 5, on external platforms like Glassdoor.

Outstanding in terms of days payable

Some of you may be aware of DSO (Days Sales Outstanding) as a key measure on the business side. It represents, on an average, the number of days it takes to collect the money for a sale that has been made. The flip side of this measure is DPO, or Days Payables Outstanding. In other words, on an average, how many days does it take for a payment to be made after an invoice has been received.

But there is a catch here, and hence it needs to be viewed with some care. On many occasions, the reason for the number to be high is that contractually, the payment is only required to be made after, say, 30 days or 60 days of the invoice being received. In other words, your company has been able to negotiate favorable credit terms with suppliers. Hence, if the DPO is high, and increasing, it may be worthwhile investigating deeper into the next layer of detail before taking action.

The usual method for calculation of DPO is:

(Average outstanding amount of invoices payable / Cost of goods sold during the period) x No. of days in the period.

Exception rate

This metric seeks to measure the error rates. Another way of looking at this measure is that it measures the rework that is needed. The lower the exception rate, the higher the straight-through processing and the higher the efficiency of the system.

The simple measure is arrived at by dividing the total number of exceptions in processing by the total number of invoices processed in the same period. Some likely causes could be data entry errors, inadequate supporting documentation, sent to the wrong approver, etc. These exceptions, it must be noted, will also have a cascading effect and negatively impact other KPIs such as DPO and average time for processing.

It has been seen that manual processing is more prone to errors and exceptions as compared to automated invoice processing.

With its super secure facilities & protocols for client data security, in addition to its ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015), oWorkers provides an environment for automation of processes. Its long-standing relationships with leading providers equips it to leverage their technologies for client projects. It is also GDPR compliant.

 

Summary

It is the experience of leading providers that automation of processes leads to improvement in many of these measures. Tracking these measures also surfaces other areas for improvement such as employee training needs.

From time to time, the measures will provide indications on areas that require a deeper dive to identify an issue and resolve it. For example, if rework is increasing, is there one particular supplier whose invoices are causing this or is it a general trend? 

As with everything else, the measures need to be viewed within a perspective. These are tools which will work as we set them up to. Thereafter, making intelligent use of the tools and the information they provide, will be up to the human masters.

Enhance your eCommerce supply chain in eight simple ways

Enhance your eCommerce supply chain in eight simple ways

Enhance your eCommerce supply chain in eight simple ways

There has been a double-digit growth in eCommerce for several years. Everyone who has anything to sell to a consumer is trying to get on to the bandwagon, if not already there. Even B2B sales businesses are finding eCommerce to be a useful channel for reaching out to their clients and enabling them to buy through it, as opposed to the legacy processes that were, at least to some extent, manual.

Covid-19 seems to have given a new urgency to the boom that may have, otherwise, been expected to taper off after rapid growth over many years. It has changed human behavior in some fundamental ways. Apart from making work from home a legitimate form of work, online shopping, at least for commoditized and branded products where one does not need to touch and feel and see and choose, is now the accepted method of shopping even for daily needs.

According to Insider Intelligence, “worldwide retail ecommerce sales will top $5 trillion for the first time in 2022, even as spending subsidizes following the surge over the previous two years. These projections also place worldwide retail commerce sales on track to top $7 billion in 2025.”

According to a Morgan Stanley report, “E-commerce in South Korea could increase to 45% in the next five years, driven by food delivery and same-day options” while “in the U.S. e-commerce could reach 31% of sales by 2026, up from 23% now, as brick-and-mortar stores close and consumers prioritize convenience.”

Support for eCommerce is part of the services offered by BPO providers of data-based services, such as oWorkers. In a short span of eight years, oWorkers has qualified to be recognized as one of the top three providers in its chosen space of work, a creditable achievement by any standard.

 

The Supply chain backbone

It is difficult to say whether the sustained growth of eCommerce is a result of a robust backbone in the form of a supply chain infrastructure, or it is the other way round, with the continued growth of eCommerce driving investments in the supply chain backbone of the industry. Perhaps it is a bit of both.

After all, it is a complex web of moving parts, with logistics, fulfillment businesses, distribution centers, transportation companies, suppliers, producers and vendors playing their unique roles in the ecosystem. One cog falls out of line and the whole edifice could come crumbling down quickly. Hence, it is necessary that companies reliant on this ecosystem never take their eyes off the ball and keep making efforts to fine-tune and improve its capability. It will enable their products to get from the production line into the hands of the consumer, seamlessly, fast, reducing inventory holding cost as well as realizing money faster.

People form the backbone in any delivery system in any industry. Perhaps even more so in a BPO, that has tended to handle activities that are inherently manual. With its ability to attract walk-in talent on account of its positioning as a preferred employer, oWorkers is able to train and deploy people to effectively handle complex requirements such as eCommerce and its supply chain backbone.

 

Enhancing efficiencies in your eCommerce supply chain

As always, it is easier said than done. Modern companies also realize that processes backed by data and communication and responsive and flexible to ever-unfolding marketplace, have the best chance of succeeding.

Unified command center

There is no doubt that physical constraints require that certain activities be carried out in a distributed manner, from different geographical locations, such as distribution. At the same time, it needs to be ensured that for the entire system to be operating as a well-oiled machine, working for a common set of goals, they need to be directed from a unified command center.

With digital technology and communications networks being what they are, this should not be much of a challenge. Of course, due care might need to be given to backup and contingency arrangements in the event this single node becomes unusable for some reason. Again, in today’s day and age, contingency arrangements should not pose a challenge.

With its global centers geared to operate on a 24×7 schedule, oWorkers is able to provide oversight for distributed activities taking place around the world, in real time. For oWorkers, it is never too late or too early when a supply chain needs to be monitored.

Open, clear communication

While the decision-making center might be unified, all moving parts need to play their assigned roles. Assignments can get changed. New decisions can get communicated. As there are many parts operating in their own responsibility area, but towards a common goal, communication needs to be consistent as well as clear and specific.

If your flight is delayed, the connecting flight you need to take might be able to wait if it has this information. If there is no information, a pre-planned routine is executed. For an ecosystem as dynamic as that of supply chain, with many external dependencies, communication is often the glue that will hold it together.

When you work with oWorkers, language ceases to be a barrier. With its avowed policy of working with a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic workforce, a multi-lingual workforce becomes a natural outcome. oWorkers is in a position to support clients in over 20 languages.

Leverage outsourcing solutions

The core business for any company is often the one that enables it to generate revenue. However, in order to generate that revenue, a number of processing activities need to be carried out by the company. They may be competent at doing some of those activities and not so competent at several others.

Process outsourcing solution providers are experts at certain types of processing activities that can not only give you some cost advantage, as the outsourced partner usually processes in bulk, you can also get the benefit of better technology as the partner, with its larger volumes, is able to invest in superior processing technologies. Above all, it takes away the burden of doing something your company is not good at, and focusing that energy on its core activities.

Many clients of oWorkers, especially the ones from Western Europe and North America, vouch for their ability to save money for them, sometimes going all the way to 80%. They are also enamored by the ability of oWorkers to give them a choice of pricing models.

Integrate technology and emerging solutions

There are new products and apps and solutions emerging every day. Just when we think the perfect solution has emerged, a newer, better one is launched. There is no end to human ingenuity. And it is not just businesses that are adopting these technologies, consumers are. Too, maybe even faster, since they do not have to worry about creating a justification and getting approval before doing so.

Staying in touch with the technological innovations as well as the shift in consumer preferences may enable you to stay in step with the changing world of technology. It is also highly likely that in doing so you will create efficiencies in your processes.

Due in no small measure to the deep relationships it has forged with technology companies, oWorkers is well placed to deploy the latest innovations in different technologies in client projects.

Customer experience remains key

If you are selling to customers, which you must be, if you are a business, understanding customer expectations and delivering on them has to be a key part of your efforts. Customers may be business or consumers, urban or rural, old or young, this will never change.

What will change is customer expectations. With competition. With technology. With their own evolution. Keep the behavior and expectations of your customers in sight when you build, or tinker with, your supply chain.

Keeping track of customer expectations will also enable you to create agility on your supply chain. It is not a machinery set up to operate in its own defined way. It has a purpose; of satisfying customer needs.

A happy employee is often the key to a happy customer. With its policy of working with employees, and not freelancers and contractors, oWorkers is able to invest in their training and development. Internal promotions for deserving candidates keeps the entire workforce engaged. As a result, customers they interact with are delivered a satisfying experience. oWorkers receives satisfaction scores in excess of 4.6, on a scale of 5, from both existing as well as past employees, on external platforms like Glassdoor.  

Quality of products

If the importance of customers never changes for a business, the relevance of producing quality products also does not. And it does not mean that your products need to be the best in the marketplace. What it means is that they need to be the best for the customer segment you are catering to. Different customers value different combinations of features and looks and pricing and other attributes. Apple is not the only company that sells handsets. Many others do too, and successfully and profitably.

Ensure that the expectation the customer has while buying your product is met and exceeded when he/she finally gets it.

With an independent team of quality analysts that reports directly to senior management, oWorkers is able to shield customers from being impacted by poor quality. The quality analysts act as clients for the internal delivery team and ensure that the quality of output meets and exceeds standards agreed, before it becomes visible to customers.

Leverage data

While most modern businesses trust data to run their business, data itself manifests itself in many different ways. Going a step further, data also lends itself to analysis and decision-making if you slice and dice it in different ways.

While we may not be equipped to tell you exactly how to slice and dice the data, as experts you would probably know the kind of insights that will be of use in decision-making. The point here is leveraging the analytical tools available to make the most of the large amount of data your business is doubtless generating.

Social media platforms, POS terminals, etc., data can come from a myriad sources. Be prepared to identify sources which can provide relevant data that then facilitates decision-making and reorganizing the supply chain if needed.

On the one hand, oWorkers works hard to protect client data with its Super secure facilities & protocols, as well as ISO certifications (27001:2013 & 9001:2015). And GDPR compliance. On the other hand, with its trained workforce, it can extract valuable insights from client data facilitating their decision-making process.

Stay alert, stay relevant

A business usually starts with a plan, also called a business plan. It articulates the fundamentals of the business and helps in convincing stakeholders and moving forward.

The plan, however, is true for that moment. The world keeps changing. There is never a time in business when it, or the people representing it, can sit back and relax. It needs to keep track of the shifting sands and make changes as and when required. Complacency has led to the demise of many a business, not just of supply chain dependent ones.

A leadership team, that has several decades of hands-on industry experience, are constantly on the lookout for signs of trends and events that could impact the company. They ensure others in the company stay well informed, and on their toes.

 

To conclude

Supply chain is a dynamic business function, with many moving parts each of which need to come together for a good outcome for the company. It also needs to be flexible to accommodate and respond to the many changes taking place in the ecosystem, with technology advances and changing customer requirements being two that seem to be the most critical. Setting the right expectation with customers, that is aggressive enough to stand the test of competition, but can be met, is important.

A supply chain dependent business such as eCommerce will need to learn, sense, respond to changes like an animal does, using all its senses, in an effort to protect as well as propagate itself. For a company, a modular structure where different modules can fit together in multiple combinations, even as they keep changing, might work best. Leveraging the vast volumes of data generated, with the help of analytics solutions, in real time, will enhance productivity and profitability.

oWorkers is known for the scalable solutions it provides to its clients, that include unicorn marketplaces as well as leading technology companies, among several others, for a wide variety of BPO services.

Guide On How To Outsource Bounding Box Annotation

Guide On How To Outsource Bounding Box Annotation

Guide On How To Outsource Bounding Box Annotation

Bounding Box annotation is one of the most popular techniques of tagging images for the purpose of creating training data sets for Machine Learning (ML) which forms an input into the development of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine.

What is Bounding Box Annotation?

It is actually fairly easy to visualise. Let us take an image of a street side. There are many objects that will perhaps be present in it; shops, people, stop lights, cars, bicycles, trees, and many more. Let us suppose we need to identify different objects in the picture for an AI application, say to train driverless vehicles. Now imagine we draw a tight rectangle around each of these objects. In other words, we bind or ‘bound’ them within these rectangles. The rectangle that surrounds the object becomes the ‘Bounding Box’ within which the object is enclosed.  

The method of distinguishing the objects for the AI engine will be based on distinguishing the Bounding Boxes from each other and will be guided by the objectives of the AI that we are feeding into. For the present, let us assume that each type of object will be captured inside a rectangle of a different color. Thus, all stop lights will be inside blue rectangles, all bicycles inside red rectangles, all shops inside green rectangles and so on. This way, the program will gradually understand the difference in the types of objects that are being ‘bounded’ and learn about the properties of these objects. This will enable the program to identify these objects even when there is no Bounding Box around them. A related element that will be taught alongside is the action the AI engine should take when it encounters an object of a particular type.

This process is referred to as Bounding Box Annotation and is what you get when you outsource Bounding Box Annotation.

The general usage of bounding boxes is as a two-dimensional, rectangular figure, though there are other methods also that involve polygonal and three-dimensional annotation. These are, however, referred to by those names and not as Bounding boxes.

 

Use Cases

There is a wide variety of applications in a wide range of industries and sectors that data enriched with the help of Bounding Box Annotation solutions is used in. A few examples:

Online Retail and Ecommerce

Objects sold on ecommerce websites can be identified with the help of bounding boxes and annotated according to their specifications. In a vast, busy, online store, it enables the shopper to get information about the product by simply hovering or clicking on it. The billing and checkout process is also automated as a result.

Object Detection with Robotics and Drone Imagery

Image annotation with the aid of bounding box annotation services is also widely used to label the objects from the point of view of robots and drones.With the help of images annotated with this technique, autonomous machines like robots and drone can identify a variety of objects they are likely to encounter and learn to react according to the rules they are taught. The varied range of objects can be captured into bound boxes making it easier for robots and drones to detect similar physical objects from a distance and behave accordingly.

Detection of damage and insurance claim estimation

Damage inflicted on a vehicle as a result of an accident can be assessed with the help of trained AI. The training is able to identify and isolate the different parts and assign a cost to it. This can also serve to keep a check on incorrect evaluation done manually. As an example, if the difference between the two is beyond an acceptable range, it gets referred to an internal arbitrator.

 

Types of Bounding Box annotation services

These services can be of various types, the essential idea being that they make it easy to identify and work with visual data that, in its raw form, is not understood by computers and machines. Some common ones:

Geo-Tagging Services – Enable us to identify the location of an image, generally done by using the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates associated with it. Occasionally it is further enriched by additional data like heights, depth, etc.. It can be used for location-specific news items, or enabling a rescue team to reach a disaster site.

Image Descriptor Services – Provide information on the object from many different perspectives on various features; color, texture, direction, etc.

Multi-label Classification Services – Traditionally, classification of an item confines it to one category. Multi-label classification does not limit itself to mutually exclusive categorization and can assign an object to multiple categories. Like a typical ‘tag.’  

Image Retrieval Services – Enable retrieval of images in a world which is increasingly being driven by audio visual media, typically through a software that browses, searches and retrieves images from a large database of digital images. Most traditional and common methods of image retrieval utilize some method of adding metadata such as captioning, keywords, title or descriptions to the images so that retrieval can be performed over the annotation words, and are mostly manual.

 

Choosing a provider for Bounding Box Annotation Solutions

When you outsource In a B2B relationship, choosing a partner is an important decision, as it has an impact on downstream areas of work. Hence, it is an event which is done carefully and deliberately, in the hope that it will not need to be done again and again. The following paragraphs offer suggestions on what you, as an outsourcer, should bear in mind while making this choice.

The partner should have the ability to deliver work of a consistently high quality, meeting and exceeding accuracy levels desired. Prior experience doing similar work is desirable, supported by sound bites from existing clients. Even better if it has been done for a competitor or another company from the same industry, though not possessing prior experience should not be a reason to disregard the vendor. Familiarity with the different types of bounding box annotation services is desirable.

oWorkers has over 8 years of experience in serving clients from different industries. Our clients are mostly referenceable and prominently displayed on our website. As a BPO with focus on data entry and related services, we offer unmatched quality in our chosen areas of work.

When you outsource bounding box annotation, as a thumb rule, it should not cost you more than your inhouse processing cost. Pricing terms (also often known as Commercials) offered should be competitive, in line with other bidders. While low is preferable, if the offered price is much lower than others, it should be looked into carefully. The vendor may have ulterior motives; like preventing a competitor from winning the deal and then backing out themselves after some time, leaving the client in the lurch.

oWorkers might be one of the few BPOs that offers a transparent pricing choice to clients; between a per unit of time-based price and a per unit of output-based price. Our clients, especially from Western Europe and the US, have consistently reported savings of up to 80% over their pre-outsourcing costs.

In a world with an accelerating pace, faster delivery is better than slower. It is no different when you outsource bounding box annotation. In any case, quicker delivery should also be beneficial for the vendor as that leaves him with the opportunity of doing more work, which generates revenue for them. Hence, speed of delivery is an important consideration.

With three centers located in the most desirable outsourcing geographies of the world, oWorkers provides the flexibility to handle spikes by splitting it across its centers. Our focus is on quick turnaround times, overnight in many cases, leveraging time differences around the globe. Our facilities operate on a 24×7 schedule because of which we can provide overnight delivery even if there is no time difference.

BPO is a people dependent business. If it (the work) could be automated, it would have been. Many of the tasks BPOs support business with, bounding box annotation solutions being an example, are being done because only a human being can do it at this point in time. The prospective partner should have the ability to continually draw the right quality resources at reasonable prices, so that they can continue to deliver on client outsourced programs.

oWorkers has been consistently ranked highly on Glassdoor by its employees. It must also be highlighted that we have employees who do our clients’ work, and not freelancers or contractors. We are deeply rooted in the communities we are located in, and are viewed as a preferred employer by a large section of the community, giving us the flexibility to ramp up and down speedily, as well as access to a steady pool of resources to select from, based on our stringent EQ, IQ and other hiring profile assessments.

As cost of resources is an issue of huge consequence for BPOs, since frontline agent cost is perhaps the single biggest item on the Income Statement, BPOs prefer to hire what may be referred to as ‘raw’ resources; or resources that do not possess advanced educational degrees or any material business experience, and provide them training to make them fit-for-purpose, depending on the purpose, which could be doing Shopify date entry or be a part of the bounding box annotation solutions team.  

Training is one of the bedrocks on which the success of BPOs has been built. oWorkers has a committed team of trainers who work on new hires to not only provide them an induction into the industry, but also prepare them for handling its rigors. Training is generally provided in two phases; an initial generic phase to train them for the BPO world, along with common skills like typing and language, and a subsequent round which is client and project specific. 

Technology remains the key enabler. In fact, for BPOs, technology can also be called the progenitor, responsible for its birth and growth. The BPO industry is also referred to as ITES (Information technology enables services) and came into existence when software and communication technologies had developed to the point that made it possible to take work away from expensive downtown real estate and highly-paid resources.

Through our partnerships with leading providers, oWorkers offers clients access to the latest technologies when they outsource bounding box annotation to us. More than 85% of our clients are technology companies.

Joined at the hip to technology is Data Security. Since data pertaining to the client’s business is accessed by the vendor and their staff, and since it moves around often, it needs to be ensured that access to it is controlled and monitored. Also, networks through which client data pass, should be segregated logically. In fact, this is now an even bigger concern, with a majority of staff working from home. How does the provider ensure security of data?

oWorkers secures client data by logical separation of networks. We go a step further and can even physically segregate areas where the client’s work is being done, through physical access control.

With an increasingly global world, and rising ambitions and aspirations, where every business wants to reach out to customers around the world, a provider who can support these ambitions and growth plans would take preference over other, more localised ones when. This is true for bounding box annotation services as well. Language support is an integral part of this support. When you need support in an additional language, do you want to go hunting all over again for a new partner, and end up having a string of small providers, or would you rather that your existing partner provide the additional support?

oWorkers in uniquely placed to offer support in over 22 languages across our three centers. This is available to you when you outsource bounding box annotation to us, or any other data entry related work that we specialise in.

It is important to have checks and balances within the system to prevent wrongdoing, attempts at fraud as well as inaccuracies and errors creeping in. Many BPOs provide this in the form of a Quality team that does not report in to the delivery team, but senior management. They act as representatives of the client internally and enable the delivery organisation to catch such errors and fix them before they become visible to the client. A Quality team is considered to add significant value in the delivery focussed work of a BPO.

Our Quality team, while working with the delivery team, is independent in terms of the reporting relationships and its line goes directly to the senior management. This allows its output to be uncolored by pressures from the delivery team, and also ensures that senior management of oWorkers is in the loop regarding the progress of the engagement.

Management support is what brings the organisation together, enabling it to operate with a common purpose. Though there is no specific measure or tool to assess this, it is expected that if you are already running a successful business, and now seek to outsource bounding box annotation, you will be able to judge this during the various interactions it is likely you will have with the provider’s management team.

With hands-on experience of over 20 years in the industry, the oWorkers management team leads from the front. Not just in the initial negotiations, but throughout the course of an engagement with a client they remain deeply involved.

 

In Conclusion

Whenever you are ready to outsource bounding box annotation, oWorkers will be ready to take it on for you, working as an extension of your team, enabling you to stay focussed on your core business activities.

How to Choose a Provider to Outsource Text Annotation

How to Choose a Provider to Outsource Text Annotation

How to Choose a Provider to Outsource Text Annotation

Annotation, as we perhaps know, is the act of adding information to data that makes it meaningful and easy to understand. In other words, we enhance the data by annotating it. When this enhancement is done for data that is textual, we refer to it as ‘text annotation.’

But this is in English.

The reference point here is enhancement of data so that it can be understood by computers. It is generally done as an input to building an Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine through a process of Machine learning (ML). What do we mean by ‘text annotation’ in this context?

Let us take an example. Of Resume parsing. The context here is employment.

Traditionally, the first step, when an employer sought to fill a position, was to request interested candidates to submit a Resume. The Resume, once submitted, would be perused by the HR team to ascertain suitability based on which it would be taken forward for further processing. This has been a manual, resource-hungry task for decades. With increasing volumes and pressure on performance, employers looked for technology solutions.

As technology developed, in order to make processing more efficient, employers developed a database into which interested candidates could directly input their particulars, that would otherwise be submitted by means of a Resume. While this created efficiency for the employer, as they were able to sort, evaluate and process much faster and more accurately, it created additional work for the candidate. She had to input the information already present on her Resume, into a new database. And perhaps as many times as the jobs she was applying to.

Enter AI. Leading to the evolution of Resume Parsing.

What is the process now?

Instead of keying in information field by field on the employer database, the candidate has to upload a copy of her Resume. The employer has a Resume parser at work which reads the information on the Resume and fills up the database fields by itself, only for a final assent by the candidate that she agrees with the final outcome. It is perhaps limited to large employers currently but adoption is rapidly increasing.

This has been made possible through ML for which inputs have been created with the help of text annotation services. Human text annotators have annotated thousands and millions of Resumes to identify what part of the text should be placed in which field of a manpower database. After being trained with enough data and with enough variations, the AI engine used by the employer can read the next Resume that gets submitted, and correctly classify it, even though it has not been annotated by a human being.

This is the contribution of text annotation services to AI and ML. In more technical terms, it can be referred to as the addition of metadata to text so that it becomes meaningful for machines to read (or view) and understand. And, of course, it needs to be done by human hand.

Text annotation being a critical input for AI and ML, for an outsourcer, it is important to ensure that they have the right and reliable partner to outsource text annotation.

The ensuing paragraphs suggest a set of criteria based on which the selection should be made and questions that should be asked during the evaluation process. This would enable you to separate the grain from the chaff and select suitable provider/s out of a long list.

To make the process simple, for each criteria, a set of questions is listed that an outsourcer should be asking vendors interested in providing text annotation solutions to them. These are neither mandatory nor sequential but meant as an indicative set to display the range that you might need to cover during the evaluation process. Depending upon the work that is being outsourced, you may need to shift your emphasis, leave out questions that may not be relevant and, at times, perhaps even go beyond this set.

So, here we go.

 

Domain and Functional Knowledge

  • Do they possess prior experience of doing similar work for other clients?
  • Have any of our competitors, or any other company from our industry, outsourced text annotation to them in the past or are currently sourcing?
  • Will an existing client be willing to certify their ability?
  • Will they be in a position to do our work accurately?

oWorkers has successfully provided a wide variety of text annotation solutions for global clients over the last eight years, covering a wide range of annotation types and services. It is no surprise that we count several unicorn marketplaces amongst our valued clients.

 

Depth of Coverage and Experience

  • Text annotation solutions have applications in a wide range of industries like Medical science, Aeronautical, Robotics, Agriculture, Retail, Self-driving cars, etc. To what industries have they been exposed?
  • Which of the following text annotation techniques are covered by their capability?
    • Text Categorization
    • Semantic Annotation
    • Phrase Chunking
    • Entity Linking
  •  Does their capability extend to annotations of various types like grammatical, sentiment, mood, etc.?

With oWorkers, you get proficiency in a wide variety of annotations, like text categorization, linked entities recognition, grammatical & discourse analysis and review & sentiment analysis. Being a pure play data entry BPO allows us to focus on this domain and offer industry-leading quality and accuracy. Our multiple industry coverage is transparent and proudly displayed on our website. 

 

Quality and Accuracy

  • If we outsource text annotation to them, will they have a process of sample monitoring done by a team of Quality Analysts (QAs) based on which coaching is provided to agents?
  • Will this be an independent team or within the delivery structure?
  • Do they have a Quality Control (QC) process in their processes?

With a mix of QA (Quality Assurance) and QC (Quality Control) processes and a team that is independent of delivery, so that results are not compromised, oWorkers delivers best in class performance at over 98% accuracy, supported by technology tools through our partnerships with leading providers.

 

Speed and Turnaround

  • What turnaround time are they willing to commit for delivering text annotation solutions?
  • Do they have a 24×7 delivery model? Will it be an extra cost if we were to opt for a 24×7 delivery model?
  • Which global time zones do they operate from? Can it enable us to benefit from the difference between our time zones?
  • Will they be willing to transfer existing skills with this kind of work to our project which can help us get off the ground faster?

oWorkers prefers to deliver fast, so that we can do more for you. We have three global delivery centers that can deliver to exacting turnaround time expectations, including overnight processing. Our business runs 24×7, 365 days of the year. You decide what speed you want.

 

Pricing

  • What is the price point for providing text annotation services?
  • Is the price per unit of time or per unit of output? Can they give us a choice between the two?
  • What is included in the price?
  • What is not included in the price? In other words, what is it that we will need to pay for over and above this price?
  • How much will it enable us to save in comparison to our existing cost?
  • How does their price compare with other vendors bidding for our project?
  • Are they ‘off the ballpark?’ In other words, is their quote vastly different from those of others? If yes, what could be the reason?
  • Is the price too low for them to be able to make it profitable? What guarantees should we take so that they do not ignore this work? What is the justification for the low price?

With a saving potential of upto 80% of current cost, especially if you are in the US or Western Europe, not working with oWorkers may require more justification than working with. Savings can translate to about USD 3 per hour for projects with scale. oWorkers also gives you a choice between per unit of output and per unit of time pricing.

 

MultiLingual Capability

  • How many languages are they in a position to provide support for in text annotation services?
  • Which are these languages?
  • How long does it take to add resources for non-core languages?
  • Will they be able to add a language currently not covered? How long will it take?
  • What is the depth of these skills? In other words, how many people for each language can they provide?

With support for over 22 languages across our three global centers for a wide variety of data services, the full power of oWorkers language capability is available when you outsource text annotation projects to us.

 

Technology and Data Security

  • If we outsource text annotation to them, will they be able to work on our technology or can they only work on their own tools?
  • What technology tools do they intend to use for our work?
  • Have they connected with client systems in the past or only worked on their own technology?
  • What file formats, data exchange protocols will be required?
  • Do they have an ISO (27001 and 9001) certification?
  • Are they GDPR compliant?
  • How secure are their work from home arrangements for staff?
  • What security measures do they implement to isolate the network and servers for our processing?
  • Can they implement physical access control?

oWorkers leverages the best technology solutions through its partnership with leading text annotation tools (pure data labelling tools or text annotation platforms) both on NLP and Computer Vision projects. As mandated by our ISO (27001 :2013 & 9001:2015) certification, our employees sign and operate under an NDA and work in monitored facilities with strict security protocols. It helps to have 85% of our clients as tech companies.

 

Scalability and access to human resources

  • Do they use employees or freelancers and contractors for doing work?
  • What is the depth of resources in their catchment area? In other words, what is the annual availability of fresh resources of the profile who work for them?
  • Do they have direct access to educational institutions from where they do campus hiring?
  • What do their employees rate them on Glassdoor?
  • What does the screening process for hiring look like?
  • What is the scaling up volume they can handle per day?
  • Do they offer flexibility to staff to work from home if and when required?
  • How do they equip and train the new hires for work on a project?

oWorkers relies on employees for delivery on client projects, not freelancers or contractors. We are deeply rooted in the communities we work with and draw resources from. With a 4.6/ 5 rating on Glassdoor, we remain a preferred employer in each of the three locations we operate from. Our deep connect enables us to ramp up and down rapidly, typically by about a hundred in 48 hours, for computer vision projects. We have a stringent hiring process that includes, in addition to educational background, EQ, IQ and Personality tests.

 

Financial health

  • To take on as well as outsource text annotation are decisions of responsibility and require commitment and financial strength to execute, especially for the provider. For starters, are they a profitable enterprise?
  • How many years have they been profitable?
  • Are their regulatory requirements in place and updated?
  • Where do they pay taxes?
  • Are warning signs visible on their Balance Sheet that could lead to possible curtailment of operations in future?

oWorkers is registered locally in all the global centers it operates from and has been a consistently profitable enterprise. It also pays local and social taxes for its employees and is deeply rooted in the communities it operates in.

 

General Management

  • When you outsource text annotation, it is important to assess the provider management’s commitment to the project. How active is the senior management in the day-to-day operations?
  • Does the management team have hands-on experience of the kind of work we propose to outsource?
  • Do they have centers in multiple geographies for delivery?
  • Are they in a position to offer a Business Continuity Plan to support our work by switching it to an alternate location in case the primary location cannot be accessed?
  • Do they possess a ‘project management’ framework and commitment?
  • Do they have processes through which support services are delivered so that delivery can continue unaffected?
  • Are they GDPR compliant?

oWorkers has a management team with over 20 years of hands-on experience in the outsourcing industry. They are hands-on and involved in client discussions. We have the capability to provide multi-site delivery for your projects with a common line of communication. When you outsource text annotation work to us, your business enables us to create positive social and economic change by creating employment opportunities in the marginalised communities where we work.