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Choosing a BPO provider - The only checklist you'll ever need.

With 1000's of options of BPO's in the market it can be a daunting task of choosing the right BPO solution for your business.


So to help you, we've crafted what we believe is the ultimate checklist to use when deciding on the right partner for you.


Generalist or specialist?

There's some BPO's (Business Processing Outsourcing company, also called Offshoring Provider in this blog) out there who are genuine specialists - for instance they only build development teams or they focus on accountancy and finance. Most BPO's are generalists meaning they'll cover everything from corporate marketing to construction drafting.

If you're looking to hire multi disciplinary skills it's best to speak with a generalist and ask them about other clients they've worked with who are solving similar challenges as you. If you're hiring an accounting team and that's it - head to a specialist.

Ability to recruit what you need

This is fundamental to your decision making. Talent acquisition in the Philippines is hard. Yes, there's great availability of talent but identifying who's right and engaging them requires skill, the right network and persistence.

When talking to your shortlist of providers ask them how many staff they have within the vertical you need. How long does it take them to recruit and what is their average tenure?

Recruitment Process

Ask a potential provider about their recruiting process. How do they engage talent and how does their internal hiring team work? You're looking for a solid process here.

Offshoring providers are, at their core, recruitment companies, so they need to be able to confidently tell you how their process works and what sort of results you can expect.

Importantly, offshoring providers don't charge up front, payment is contingent on them finding and engaging the people for you.

If you haven't interviewed any candidates within 2 weeks of briefing the recruiting team on the role - I'd question their ability to hire in this space and try another provider.

Office or home working?

Do you handle sensitive data in your business? Are you bound by regulation? Some companies will find that they benefit from their offshore workers being in an office full time, especially those who require additional security. Consider your needs when looking at a provider.

Some providers offer full time work from home, some full time in the office and others a hybrid set up. If staff are working from home full time ask the provider what security and monitoring measures they have in place and check this aligns to what you need (more about monitoring in the next section).

Most providers will have different pricing options for working from home and office set ups so ask about this too.

EOR (Employer of Record) or Freelance model?

Most providers have an Employer of Record which means they hire the staff member permanently on your behalf under the local legislation. The person is then 'staff leased' to you via a contracting agreement. The provider looks after HR and employee for you and you manage their work day to day.

Other providers offer freelance models which can be set up similar to perm models but also not. Ask the provider exactly how they engage and contract their staff. Ask them if they're allowed to work for other clients at the same time.

There are benefits to freelancing for instance you can find the exact skill sets you need to certain time periods, however your contractor is likely working for multiple companies - so always check this out.

Australian vs Philippines Entity

This is probably more of a concern for your tax agent than anything else. If you're contracting with a Philippines entity then you won't be able to claim GST. Talk to your tax agent before signing a contract with a non AU entity.

Management Fees

All offshoring providers charge management fees on top of the employees salary and benefits, this is standard.

Management fees range from $500 AUD to $1,400 AUD per month and it's fair to say their offering can vary wildly within this range too.

The most important thing with charge rates in my opinion is transparency. Feel free to ask for a breakdown of costs from your provider so you know how much your staff member is receiving.

Some providers have a fixed cost and other operate a margin - both are fine but always ask for the breakdown if you're unsure.

Account Management set up

You'll find that many offshoring providers over-egg their support when it comes to account management. You'll typically have a point of contact for concerns and someone will check in with you periodically but day to day management of your staff will always be up to you and your internal team.

If a provider is offering more than this - ask exactly what they mean. Also ask them how many clients each account manager has in their portfolio to give an idea of how spread thin they are.

Size matters

This sounds arbitrary, however, a small provider and a large provider both have their positives and negatives.

In a small provider you'll likely engage with the owner of the business who's likely to be based in Australia so the service level you receive may feel higher than an enterprise provider with 1,000's of staff and your small team of 3 accounting people is merely a drop in the ocean.

On the other hand large providers can have brand reputation, large recruiting teams and often streamlined and smooth processes.

The choice here is personal and often comes down to the relationship you build with the sales person or owner.

References

Ask for a reference from a client who's in the same industry as you. This is super important as you'll get insight about how well they can recruit, how they do account management and the service levels they provide.


Pay Transparency

This is one of the most important things I look for in a provider, I want to know how much the staff member is getting into their bank account each month. When you commence a recruitment process with the provider ask for the market salary range for the roles.

Technology

Some providers include computer set up as part of their fees, others don't. If you require a secure set up or don't want to handle organising computer set ups it's worth going with a provider who offers this.

The quality of computer equipment will vary wildly too some will offer laptops some desktops and the specs within these will be different, it's always best to ask.

You can also consider with remote set ups that staff will use their own computer equipment which many clients are happy with. Again depends on your company policy.

Monitoring

Depending on your sector you may choose to go for monitoring. What is it? It can range from clocking in and geo data to screen shots, mouse monitoring and web cam screen-shotting.

When working from home became common place providers went deep into monitoring and I find most of it very invasive and guess what? - So do the employees!

Ask the provider what their standard monitoring is and if there are options to decrease or increase depending on your internal policy.

Employee experience

It's always a good idea to review how the provider treats their staff. Glassdoor and Google reviews are a good place to start. If you're seeing anything that stands out, bring it up with the provider and get their feedback.

HMO

HMO is health insurance in the Philippines. It enables employees to access free healthcare which is normally expensive and most Filipinos find it hard to afford without HMO.

To be competitive in the talent market your provider should offer at least a single HMO plan but even better if they offer HMO + 1 dependent too. Some are now offering for more dependents too.

If the provider has no HMO I'd question their ability to attract and retain talent.

Engagement initiatives

Ask the provider what they do to engage their employees. Look for things like learning and development, team building/bonding, psychological support, team events. They'll normally charge a minimal monthly budget for engagement for instance $20-$30 AUD per month.


Whilst this blog covers the main elements we look out for when deciding on a partner you may have some specific things you look for from a partner too so weigh everything up.

We recommend meeting with 2-3 partners to get a feel for the market and weighing those up against each other.

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