BPO is a frightening proposition to many businesses in Singapore. Incidentally, people are so attached to their businesses that the thought of outsourcing some of its functions and activities to a third party is enough to give them creeps.
But the benefits are rife, and they cut across both the public and private sectors.
It’s the contracting of non-primary business functions and activities to a third-party provider.
As a concept, BPO is rooted in manufacturing functions, where a business frequently uses another company to handle certain activities and tasks. But today, BPO has grown to include many other activities and to simply mean, outsourcing any business task to a third party.
Why is BPO Important?
Here are five strategic reason your company should hire BPO services in Singapore:
A Smart Investment
Contrary to what many people say, outsourcing some of your business functions and activities is a smart investment in itself. By hiring a BPO company, you save not only money but also time. So instead of obsessing over operation matters, you can dedicate this time to making strategic moves for your company.
Get Some of the Weight Lifted Off Your Shoulders
As an entrepreneur, it’s damaging to be too emotionally attached to your business to the point that you cannot see the value in asking for help. Outsourcing means that you do not have to shoulder the whole burden of managing and operating your business on your own.
Peace of Mind
There’s some little bit of uncertainty in outsourcing some of your business operations to a stranger. But once a contract is negotiated and trust established, it can be a great sense of relief knowing someone is busy getting the job done somewhere.
Outsourcing frees you lots of time. You can use this time to focus on delivering value instead of obsessing over trivialities. Focus on being more professional and delivering quality, which will see to it that you’re able to develop a more proactive and mutually beneficial relationship with the said customers.
BPO Services Are Flexible
BPO services are flexible enough to accommodate any business. It’s not limited to giant businesses only. Whether small, medium, or giant, businesses opt for BPO services for their viability. You can have the services tailored to match your unique business needs, regardless of size or industry.
Some of the companies that provide BPO services have their own apps that you’re allowed to take advantage of. Usually, the apps are offered as part of their BPO services. This is not about excel spreadsheets, but highly curated and specialised apps that provide the reporting and analytics that your business needs to grow.
About BPO services in Singapore
The labour force in Singapore: The average salary for a new graduate in Singapore is $3000, CPF contributions not included. Because of this, setting up an in-house team or staff can be an expensive undertaking.
Highly Educated: The population is highly educated. But it’s no secret that the labour market in Singapore is considerably smaller. There’s, therefore, the developing need for businesses to embrace BPO services.
Jobs that can be offshored: From tele-cities, marketing, journalists, writers, development, and research, to administrative and general secretarial work – all these can be offshored, with meatier jobs left to highly valuable graduates.
A Glimpse into BPO Trends in 2020
Here the four emerging BPO trends to observe in 2020:
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA uses artificial intelligence and bots on user interfaces to come up with a faster way of completing work and at a cheaper rate. It’s all about helping remote workers save on both their time and money.
The term BPO was synonymous with customer support and call centres. But that’s no longer the case. This outdated notion has been replaced with an unlimited list of other business functions, including human resources, copywriting, accounting, coding, and so on. There’s literally no limit as to what can be outsourced.
Start-ups are Beginning to Use BPO Services More
Start-ups are known for operating on a shoestring budget. It’s only natural that they’d want to look offshore for cost-effective labour. In fact, giant companies such as AppSumo and Slack have admitted to using the outsourcing models to grow their businesses.
Only large multinational corporations were known to BPO services. Much of what they did, plans, challenges, and other processes were kept in the dark. However, things changed when smaller companies stepped into the scene. Most of them started revealing their contracts, policies, challenges, pricing, and so forth.
Covid-19 to Affect Investments
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, BPO companies are watching with bated breath as the pandemic takes a toll on trade, visas, agreements, and tax policies. Even with this, experts are still not certain about how the pandemic would affect the outsourcing sector.
New Outsourcing Locations to Emerge
Businesses are beginning to look into more cost-effective outsourcing destinations, away from the big three – India, China, and Malaysia. Examples of countries that have emerged as the new outsourcing destination include Bulgaria, Egypt, Romania, Mexico, and Columbia.
Types of BPOs
BPO can broadly be divided into three groups based on the geographical location of the provider you’re contracting the service to:
Onshore BPO: Also referred to as domestic outsourcing, this is where you contract a provider within the same geographical location as you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same city or state as you. So long as it’s from the same country you’re in, that alone pass it up as onshore BPO.
Offshore BPO: It’s pretty straightforward: when you contract or outsource someone from a different country other than your home country, then you’re engaging in offshore BPO. Businesses choose offshore BPO because it’s very cost-cutting.
Nearshore BPO: Nearshore BPO occurs when you contract a provider from a neighbouring country. In which case, it’s nearshore BPO when your provider is from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, or China.
How to Get Started on BPO
BPO is hugely beneficial, but it’s also complicated to set up. You have to begin by identifying your needs, setting up your goals, and choosing the right outsourcing model for your business.
Identifying Your Needs
Find out why you need to outsource. What are the tasks, and what processes do you prefer? That should be accompanied by goals or what you wish to achieve at the end of it all.
Figure out how to Integrate Outsourcing with Existing Business Processes
Determine if outsourcing can work for your company or business. If so, how do you plan to ensure there’s no confusion between your existing business process and outsources ones?
Determine which Outsourcing Model Best Fits Your Business
The outsourcing model you choose will always vary depending on your budget, priorities, and your willingness to take risks. If your primary concern is cost, then perhaps you should consider going with offshore BPO.
Determine how You’re Going to Outsource
You have to determine if you’re going to hire a professional BPO provider, a freelancer, or set-up your offshore team.
i. Hiring a Professional BPO Provider
The majority of professional BPO service providers specialise in one area. They have experts and professional that excel in that one particular field. For example:
- Customer Support
Companies that settle for this option do so because it’s relatively easy. Plus, the talent you’re looking for will always be there waiting for you.
ii. Hire a Freelance
This is where you look for individuals with a particular skill set to fill out a talent gap, support your team, or complete a particular task.
You can hire a freelancer to help you out with:
iii. Build Your Offshore Team
Another option would be to build your offshore team. This is where you create a dedicated team of professionals and use collaborative tools to get them together so they can collaboratively work on your project.
Weigh the Benefits and Cost
Weigh the benefits of BPO with factors such as practicality, convenience, and cost. If you found the skill that you’re looking for at a reasonable price, and are comfortable with the risks involved, then you’ve found a solution that could work with your business.
Compare All the Available Routes to Outsourcing
Crunch the number carefully and compare all the available routes to outsourcing. Run the overall cost, and be sure to consult a professional on tax implications. Research on the payment options and the economic interventionism of the country that you’re planning to outsource in.
How to Choose the Right BPO Service Provider
Don’t sell yourself short: You can start by building a pilot project. The next thing you want to do is identify a benchmark that you’ll be using to measure success. If the BPO is smart enough, they’ll compare their performance to the common process of the benchmark to make sure their services match your standards.
Reporting is Key: A great BPO agency isn’t one that gets the job done but one that constantly updates you on the progress made. A clear management and reporting tool must be established between you and the team you’re outsourcing. You want to make sure that you’re on top of everything that’s happening, not just waiting for the final product.
Look at the Financial Health of the BPO: What’s the current holding of the BPO company you’re outsourcing? Look at their portfolio and past financial records and make sure the company has the capacity to drive your business towards success. Any company that’s experiencing hardship will possibly drag your firm down.
Conduct a Trial:
Have the company handle a small portion of the job to see if they’re capable of delivering. The test can run for a week, month, a few months, or any other duration you agree on. If the company fails to deliver to your full satisfaction, you have the option of entrusting the services to a different company.
Confidentiality is everything. It’s therefore crucial that the service provider signs a non-disclosure agreement. This will see to it that your company’s information remains confidential. Remember: certain processes will require you to give the service provider access to crucial company information.
7 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Any BPO Agency in Singapore
Here are questions to ask any BPO agency in Singapore before you can go ahead and hire them:
Any satisfied clients?
The offshore solution you’re about to outsource your services to should at least have satisfied clients. Try to find out if they have an excellent job report. There’s no harm in reaching out to some of their clients to find out if they were satisfied by the quality of services they received. If they were satisfied, the odds are high that you will too.
Mind Sending Me Some Samples of Your Work?
Never hire any BPO company without first digging through their past work. While checking their previous jobs, concentrate on the jobs that are very similar to yours, not everything.
What’s Your Area of Expertise?
Your priority should be to find out how many people will be involved in your project and if they’re qualified for it. Team size and expertise are important because they’re what you use to determine how long the project is going to take.
How do You Manage Projects?
The management details of the company can help you determine the expected quality or value of work. It’s, therefore, important that you push the company to walk you through everything.
What’s Your Process of Getting the Job Done?
If their method of getting the job done is similar to how you do it on your end, they’re the right BPO solution to go with. By following the same procedure as you, that means the company understands your goals and expectations to the core.
Do You have any Written Contact Formality?
A written contract is important in any job. Read through their terms and conditions thoroughly and make sure that you understand everything before you can go through with anything. Be sure to ask where you do not understand to eliminate the chances of misunderstanding the contract.
What’s Your Security Protocol?
Be sure to notify the company of your company’s policies and security protocol. Do this ahead of time so they can notify their team members on the regulations to observe.
Common BPO Services
Here are common BPO services business outsource in Singapore:
Data entry isn’t exactly hard. It’s tedious and time-consuming, and that’s one reason businesses choose to outsource it. In this way, someone else gets to handle the task as your employees focus on the meaty part of the job.
Start-ups and some of the giant brands you know outsource customer support. As your business grows and scales, your customer base expands. To cut the cost of hiring and training an in-house team of customer support executives, many businesses choose to outsource the service to ready-made professionals.
Marketing is hard work. Many businesses can’t juggle administrative tasks and marketing at the same time. So, they choose to hand over the task to a marketing agency that specialises in that. Whether it’s SEO, social media marketing, PPC, and PR, you can outsource any of these services to a marketing agency.
If you’ve ever tried recruiting before, you of all the people should understand how hard the process can get. Luckily, there are external agencies that can assist you with the entire process. Some of the agencies even go ahead and train the recruits for you so they can integrate faster.
Finance and Accounting
Another popular BPO service in Singapore is finance and accounting. Apart from handling your account, specialised KPEO companies offer a range of services that add value to your business. They do audits and provide forecasts. Some of the KPOs offer valuable financial insights that are geared towards helping your company grow.
BPO Risks You Should Know
BPO comes with its share of risks and drawbacks. They include:
Data Security Risks
Just remember that your entrusting a third party with your company’s data. Sharing this data with the outsourced company puts it at risk of theft or being leaked.
Maintaining security when the data is in the hands of a third-part is challenging, especially since their privacy laws are so different from yours.
How to Caution Yourself from this Risk
If you’re dealing with copyrights, patent, or private information, it helps to have your lawyer draft a contract that serves to protect both you and the BPO provider. You should also sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement and other agreements that protect your privacy.
With an in-house team, communication means walking over to any of the members and having a face to face communication. You can even summon everyone to a meeting. But that’s not the case with off-shoring. The process can be tedious and lengthy, and mostly slowed down by the following:
- Time zone difference
- Language barrier
- Different feedback levels between the agencies
How to Caution Yourself from this risk
Create a training manual that addresses all the issues you may encounter. Be sure to talk to the BPO provider and come up with solutions. You may also use virtual communication tools such as Zoom and Slack to communicate efficiently.
The biggest challenge with BPO is monitoring the performance of your outsourced staff. With your BPO provider operating from thousands of miles away, how do you plan to verify:
- If they’re indeed working?
- If they’re busy accessing unproductive websites when they should be working?
- If your project took that long?
So how do you caution this risk?
How do you monitor them and make sure they’re working as per your agreement? You need a powerful monitoring tool such as Time Doctor to monitor keystrokes and work progress.
How BPO Works
BPO can work with both small and big companies. Generally speaking, BPO can be adopted for either front and back office (if not both).
- For Front Office: This is where the company chooses to outsource customer-related tasks such as marketing, tech support, and sales to an external professional.
- For Back Office: This is where the company chooses to outsource its core operations such as accounting, payment process, and quality assurance to an external professional.
Top 5 BPO Books to Read in 2020
Some companies relate to BPO because of cost reduction. But there’s more to it than that. In fact, it’s what some well-established companies are using to maintain efficiency in their core operations.
However, before you outsource any of your business tasks, we urge you to gather as much information on the subject as you possibly can. We’ve compiled a list of outsourcing books that we think might help you take outsourcing in the right direction.
Get an insider look at what could possibly go wrong when you shift your production to China. The book reveals some important industry secrets that may prove to be useful to someone that wants to take this path.
Entrepreneurs are known to suffer from superhero syndrome, where they think the only path to success is by working hard and doing everything by themselves. This book aims to draw holes in this common misconception while pointing you in the right direction.
You don’t need to micromanage your employees or chase them down to get your work done. This book teaches you about the power of persuasion and how to influence the performance and productivity of your virtual team.
A great book for those aspiring to be virtual assistants. It’s a step-by-step blueprint of how to set up a virtual assistant business from scratch and grow it into an empire.
This book takes you through everything you need to learn about outsourcing. It takes you through the cost, benefits, and processes that you can use to manage it. It’s an extremely useful book to those that want to master the whole process and adjust their strategies to reap the full benefits of outsourcing.
Top BPO Companies in Singapore in 2020
BPO companies have a team of experts and professionals who provide fact-checking, data entry, software development services, and so forth. Explore the top BPO firms in Singapore in the table below.
|Callbox About||Callbox is one of the leading BPO companies in Singapore. Although based in California, the company has offices in Singapore, Australia, Ultimo, and the Philippines. The company was founded in 2004 and has grown to accommodate 174 providers of back-office BPO services.|
|Callbox Key Services|
|Callbox Key Clients|
|Callbox Review (sample)|
|Singapore Incorporation About||Singapore Incorporation offers cost-effective, highly organised, corporate legal services to new companies in Singapore. They have affordable packages for company registration, incorporation, and the financial requirements of your business. They’re the people to consult about the legalities involved with setting up a new company in Singapore.|
|Singapore Incorporation Key Services|
|Singapore Incorporation Contact|
|Plexure About||Plexure is a well-established, Singapore-based Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution. They also offer consultancy services, in addition to deploying ERP and CRM systems to SMEs and MNCs. They also offer sound advice to companies that want to adopt CRM systems in implementing and achieving their business objectives.|
|Plexure Key Services|
|Plexure Key Clients|
|ExperTrans About||ExperTrans was established in 2005 and has realised dramatic growth to be one of the leading globalisation solutions in the country. With a network of more than 100 skilled employees, the company seeks to empower enterprises by lending itself as a strategic partner.|
|ExperTrans Key Services|
|ExperTrans Key Clients|
|Asian Technology Solutions About||Created by SAP managers, Asian Technology Solutions’ expertise spans across a wide industry spectrum. But generally, the company provides SAP experts to help you out with SAP implementation. They also offer consultation services and technical roles, together with integrated IT and Business solutions that fulfill the needs of both Small and Multinational corporations.|
|Asian Technology Solutions Key Services|
|Asian Technology Solutions Key Clients|
|Asian Technology Solutions Contact|
|3E Accounting About||3E Accounting is a global accounting network specialised in offering high-quality accounting services to both locals and the international community. It’s one of the most reliable and effective firms for outsourcing all kinds of accounting work.|
|3E Accounting Key Services|
|3E Accounting Key Clients|
|3E Accounting Contact|
|3E Accounting Review (sample)|
|UnitedLex About||UnitedLex is an international provider of legal services. Their mission is to improve the performance of law firms, law departments, and academic institutions. They provide unparalleled solutions that result in efficiency improvements, risk mitigation, and cost optimisation to businesses in Asia, Europe, and North America.|
|UnitedLex Key Services|
|UnitedLex Review (sample)|
|JJ&E About||JJ&E has been around for more than a decade, during which they have grown to be one of the leading providers of corporate services, including company registration, tax filing, registered address, virtual office, printing solution, corporate identity, and so on. Since they started, they have formed thousands of companies while maintaining a stellar reputation.|
|JJ&E Key Services|
|JJ&E Review (sample)|
|Sigrid AI About||Sigrid AI operates like a SaaS platform, but with a dedicated human assistant helped by specialists that can be accessed via the platform. It’s a subscription-based remote executive assistant platform, staffed by highly-trained executive assistants and backed by teams of specialists in fields such as travel planning, bookkeeping, IT support, and research Sigrid.|
|Sigrid AI Key Services|
|Sigrid AI Key Clients|
|Sigrid AI Contact|
|Anchor Business & IT Solutions|
|Anchor Business About||Anchor Business is one of the leading providers of IT technology and Business Consulting services in Singapore. Their clients include both small and multinational corporations within and outside Singapore’s border. The firm provides a comprehensive suite of IT solutions that supports business growth both locally and on a global front.|
|Anchor Business Key Services|
|Anchor Business Key Clients|
|Anchor Business Contact|
|Anchor Business Review (sample)|
|A1 Business About||Founded in 2007, A1 Business is located in the hearts of Singapore. They’re one of the leading providers of corporate services, including company registration and company secretarial services. Other than that, they also provide services such as logo design, web design, virtual office, and return ink seal, to name a few.|
|A1 Business Key Services|
|A1 Business Key Clients|
|A1 Business Contact|
|A1 Business Review (sample)|
|Tele-centre About||Tele-centre is a one-stop-shop for outsourced customer support and telemarketing services in Singapore. Founded in 1999, the company believes in the gifted power of the gab. They’re dedicated to influencing customer decisions through nothing else but conversations. There’s great power in graceful communication, and Tele-center offers to help you take full advantage of it.|
|Tele-centre Key Services|
|Tele-centre Review (sample)|
|Adept Manpower About||Adept Manpower was established in 2008 as a BPO service for consultancy, recruitment, and payroll processing. Their mission is to empower businesses through a holistic suite of different HR solutions.|
|Adept Manpower Key Services|
|Adept Manpower Key Clients|
|Adept Manpower Contact|
|Adept Manpower Review (sample)|
|SPCS About||SPCS is a Singapore-based professional outsourcing firm specialised with a range of services. Their services are tailored to accommodate a range of business requirements and needs.|
|SPCS Key Services|
|SPCS Key Clients|
|Synphonics About||Synphonics was incorporated in 2000 as a localisation service provider providing integrated translation and web localisation services. They’re specialised in helping businesses communicate more effectively, whether in person, on paper, or in cyberspace.|
|Synphonics Key Services|
|MediaOne About||MediaOne is widely regarded as the top digital marketing agency in Singapore. They use ISO-certified AI technologies to undertake most of their processes. They also have a strong R&D team to make sure that they and their clients have the best systems and processes. As the result they are trusted by billion-dollar enterprises and SMEs alike for complete digital marketing.|
|MediaOne Key Services|
|MediaOne Key Clients|
|MediaOne Review (sample)|
BPO is an easy way to streamline your work processes and get your work done with better quality and less time.
Talk to us to learn more about BPO services or if you ever find yourself stuck between two or more providers.