Business process outsourcing in India is a $20 billion industry that is forecast to grow 12-15% over the next year. The Indian share of global BPO outsourcing is estimated at 37%. That’s more than one-third of all the world’s BPO activities taking place in just one country.
Not bad for an industry that got its start in the 1980s when British Airways started using New Delhi as its back office location.
If you Google “India outsourcing” today, you’ll get 29 million hits. But try searching on “India outsourcing horror stories” and you will get 700,000 hits. Like India’s infrastructure, some parts can be world-class but a lot of it is definitely not.
I know because my company does considerable business with Indian BPOs. It has given us a deep appreciation for the cost and efficiency benefits they can offer. It has also convinced us that the only way to gain those benefits – without the horror stories – is to be highly selective about what we outsource.
Project planning and management stay on this side of the ocean. So does customer service and account management. No customer ever calls our company and talks to somebody in India. Most important of all, quality control is in our hands and has to meet our standards.
It is in between those beginning and end-points that the Indian BPOs excel. Our customers get the service and quality they expect from an American company, with the cost and turnaround of an Indian one.
Do Indians really know more about BPO than we do? Ask yourself this: who knows more about building a car: a skilled master mechanic or the people who run a Ford assembly line? The truth is that it takes both to produce a high-quality vehicle at an affordable price, and the same applies to outsourcing a business process.