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Until recently, organizations that relied on BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) to complete a part (or all) of their processes remotely, went on and on about the benefits of this business model – mostly financial ones.
But once the pandemic knocked off the rose spectacles, the flaws of the current outsourcing models took the stage. And the show was, in some cases, an absolute fiasco.
That’s right – as Covid-19 gradually closed the offices and factories across the globe, businesses who relied on the disaster-hit areas were forced to take a break. It was an unwilling move, which forced some companies to shut their doors – either temporarily or permanently.
Now, as we are adjusting to the “new normal”, everyone is taking the time to reflect on the past and trying to answer crucial questions:
Was there something we could’ve done to prevent this?
What should we do in the future to cope with similar situations?
The answers differ from one organization to another, but some of the front-running solutions which can be implemented across industries and businesses include:
Better disaster recovery tactics
Before the pandemic, optimizing several locations to perform the same activities was considered a waste of money. When the pandemic hit and when organizations which relied on just one site were forced to pause their operations, it became evident that we cannot put all our eggs in one basket.
As a result, multi-sourcing became a buzzword in the business world, especially among companies that rely heavily on outsourcing. For a business to be able to continue operating in the event of a disaster, several vendors need to remain available to step in when another one is unable to.
Even companies that were not so fond of the outsourcing model in the past are beginning to modify their approach, seeing as how remote work is becoming synonymous with the popular phrase mentioned earlier – new normal.
But as managers are reading into the best remote work practices, it seems that physical oversight may be impossible to achieve. According to Bill Gates, the pandemic is going to cut business travel by half in the aftermath of the pandemic, which means that remote workers are less likely to meet in person.
For communication and performance to remain optimal, all employees need to have reliable access to the materials and tools they need to complete their tasks. For this reason, companies started to invest heavily in online data security and mechanisms which will help managers remain in control. These may include the use of cloud services and SaaS solutions designed exclusively for such purposes. These tools will allow managers to maintain control, have insight into the productivity, results, and activities performed. The final outcome should yield benefits for all sides – the company, employees, and in the end, customers.
Did the pandemic just put an end to the decade-long debate “nearshoring vs offshoring”? Will the benefits of nearshoring prevail?
Not necessarily, but organizations might consider bringing some critical roles closer to the company core and evaluate whether they can afford to have people who are in critical positions across the globe. The farther away they are located, the greater the time difference and communication gap; the greater the chance for misunderstanding and the slower the reaction times.
It is up to individual businesses to define which are the “critical roles” in their organization and decide if they will be employed to work in-house, or at least closer to headquarters.
Greater reliance on automation
With reduced physical oversight, mishaps seem to happen more frequently. One of the ways companies are looking to cope is through the implementation of automated solutions.
Unfortunately, the last-year events showed that relying on human capital can be risky. The most viable option – automating certain processes which you cannot afford to put on pause.
An alternative (or better yet, an additional) approach is to migrate whatever is possible to the cloud. That way, all data remains secure and anyone you approve can gain access to the information they need to complete their work.
Looser governance arrangements
Finally, when all risk-management options are in place, it is highly improbable that companies will force their employees to work from the office. In fact, businesses will need to introduce hybrid environments to remain competitive because a large number of people reported that they actually prefer to have the work-from-home option.
For some organizations, this will involve serious restructuring, but hybrid environments are a long-term solution which prepares you for any situation.
If the last year has taught us anything, it is that planning for the worst-case scenario is not an exaggeration – it is a necessity. If you approach the process strategically, you are actually preparing for anything the future may have in store. To remain at the top of the game means remaining flexible – flexible to implement any software or business model which answers current market demands.
Mike is an Australian business consulting specialist. He’s working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several sites.
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