Definition

business process outsourcing (BPO)

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: IT sourcing strategy guide for enterprise CIOs

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is the contracting of a specific business task, such as payroll, human resources (HR) or accounting, to a third-party service provider. Usually, BPO is implemented as a cost-saving measure for tasks that a company requires but does not depend upon to maintain their position in the marketplace.

BPO services

Two categories BPO is often divided into are back office outsourcing, which includes internal business functions such as billing or purchasing, and front office outsourcing, which includes customer-related services such as marketing or tech support.

Back office outsourcing offers organizations services to help manage tasks like data entry, data management, surveys, payment processing, quality assurance and accounting support. Back office tasks are integral to a company's core business process and help keep business running smoothly.

Front office outsourcing services deal with customer interactions. Examples of front office tasks include phone conversations, email, fax and other forms of communication with customers. Front office outsourcing providers' service lists include:

Outsourcing options

BPO that is contracted outside a company's own country is sometimes called offshore outsourcing. BPO that is contracted to a company's neighboring country is sometimes called nearshore outsourcing, and BPO that is contracted with the company's own county is sometimes called onshore outsourcing.

Pros and cons of BPO

The top advantages of BPO are saved money and increased time to focus on the core business. Some other benefits include:

  • Speed and efficiencies of outsourced business processes are enhanced
  • Organizations using BPO get access to the latest technology
  • Freedom and flexibility to choose the most relevant services for the company's operations
  • Quick and accurate reporting
  • Save on resources related to staffing and training

Some disadvantages of outsourcing business processes include:

This was first published in May 2016

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