The Shared Services Evolution

As part of the Gen X in India, I was fortunate to have been part of the outsourcing saga and saw it meandering through the different value prepositions over the years. It has been the greatest success story which has seen plethora of companies join the BPO bandwagon since its humble beginning in the 1990s whereby the ‘Outsourcers’ got benefited immensely through increased productivity, reduced costs and better time to market quality advantage making their products/services cheaper and better for their end customers apart from the increased earnings per share for the investors at large.

  1. The formidable years – Mid-nineties saw AMEX and GE set shop in India as pure-play BPO providers taking advantage of the labor arbitrage, i.e. cost of an FTE in US/UK versus India. The processes got transitioned via ‘lift and shift’ methodology with focus on financial services (AP, AR and GA).
  2. The 2000s – The new millennium not only brought the Y2K conundrum with itself, but rendered the providers with the quintessential quality consciousness, sense of innovation and need to re-engineer the processes being already performed in India. It also prompted to split the ‘gainsharing’ benefits with the clients to keep their faith while the provider eyed to be globally capable to deliver noiselessly across the service spectrum. New verticals of HRO and Procurement got created in the otherwise F&A dominant industry providing a breakthrough to millions of non-commerce collegiate populace of India.
  3. Over the hump – Over the next few years (2005 onwards), the Indian providers started to look inwardly to master the processes by using business excellence approach while becoming self-reliant by honing the industry relevant skills viable for their client’s need and use analytic tools to exponentially increase the business outcomes for greater CSAT and longer partnering. The use of standardized documentation methodology gained acceptance which ensured that the BPO delivery staff is conjoined to the needs and wants of their client. The documentation included SIPOC or COPIS, process maps at high and detailed level both, RACI, identifying risks and their controls and C&E amongst other techniques enhancing the process delivery.
  4. Sub-prime blues – With the world financial markets exploding as a result of the sub-prime in 2008/ 09, the competition to pull newer clients increased with the top players either reducing the rates of the services or offering to increase the productive hours by retaining the same rates was trending. The industry started to harness itself towards the standard platforms and processes. The business outcomes were based with technological components like Wikis and cloud for a seamless and insightful delivery. It also witnessed realization of automating processes for a greater good.
  5. Emergence of Social Media – The current outsourcing generation is all about ‘community’ prompting the providers to add collaboration tools and social media where members are exchanging ideas, sharing best and worst practices to deal with opportunities or challenges in pursuit of new business outcomes to make a difference for a discerning ‘Client’. This space will continue to evolve as a source of further value creation with robotics taking a center-stage to help providers tide over repetitive processes with a proxy in place. The benefits are being harvested by the first movers with deep pockets in this domain, however it is yet to become a wide-spread phenomenon for everyone to be benefited.

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