Date: April 23, 2009

Author: JT

Tags: , , , ,

2 Comments »

Getting the Services You Paid For?

frozen-penguin-2You’ve drunk the Kool-Aid and have been outsourcing your non-core business activities for a while now.  But, do you really know if your BPO (business process outsource) provider is delivering the same services that you paid for?  Honestly?

As a product manager and P&L head for a BPO & SaaS provider, my particular business unit provided contracted services with varying SLAs (service level agreements) for hundreds of customers. Precisely -1- of those customers did a review audit in a two-year period. One.

That ‘one’ was done by an administrator who largely took our word for it without real awareness of what was being audited.  She came with a spreadsheet of past complaints from their user community.  One by one, we confirmed each issue as addressed, she checked the box, we went for a tour.  Story’s a bit simplified, but not a whole lot.

This is despite the fact that many of the SLAs included clauses citing ‘annual reviews.’ A number of SLAs required periodic performance reporting, ‘…to be defined..’ at some future point (and not in the SLA). In essence, the SLAs were not worth the paper they were printed on in many cases…  This situation only serves to encourage service providers to be lax in delivering against past expectations.

How do you ensure? Consider hiring someone who has ‘worked’ in the service industry and use them as an auditor. The right person will know where to look, where fingers can be poked through the Seran Wrap, questions to ask, and so on.

We’ve heard Reagan’s famous quote, “…trust, but verify.” Nothing is more true than in your relationships with your various service providers. If you don’t -actually- poke your head over the wall once in a while, they’ll have less need to be concerned–as long as the day-to-day noise is managed.

Key message: Most don’t do anything after a steady-state’s been reached. Take action, DO something about it. Don’t wonder. Don’t call your BPO rep and let them placate you. DO something. Probe their claims, test performance, explore limits. Actually -read- that 3-year old SLA that’s been gathering dust.

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