What are business process services?
Business processes are just tasks related to achieving service or product goals. This is the most basic, general definition. Organizations are most likely interested in one or more of the main three categories of business processes, which fall under the management piece (strategic management is an example), operations (sales/marketing, manufacturing), and support processes (human resources/IT/customer service/other administrative). Business process services then are the offerings of a third party that provide improvement to the processes and/or, replace one or more altogether.The goal in using these services is to reduce costs and waste, which improves the performance of the business. There are two different types of business process services and both have as their goal, optimizing business processes.
Business Process Improvement Services
These are consultant type of services that offer analysis of the organization’s current processes, education on best practices and other suggestions on improvement, and then the development of a roadmap to get from point A to B. These third party improvement services may address any or all of the processes that fall under the three categories – management, operations, and support processes. The mapping piece just identifies and places business processes in an easy to follow visual diagram.
Business Process Outsourcing Services
Outsourcing individual business processes is the other option. Sometimes, it is more cost effective to have third party specialists replace the targeted business process in part or in its entirety. The main driver of this is that their specialty is your weakness. In other words, either because of a lack of resources (human or technological) or expertise, someone else can do the process faster, better, and in turn, cheaper. Some examples of business process services that are outsourced:
- Call centers – customer service, technical support
- Manufacturing functions – supply chain
- Payment services – claims processing, lockbox processors
- Human resources – payroll, temporary staffing, recruitment
- Data management – forms processing, document management, data entry and conversion, imaging
- Marketing – telemarketing, surveys, lead generation, database management, on and offline marketing services
Business process improvement services can and do work hand in hand with BP outsourcing services. The former may act as the consultant that suggests the latter.
Is it About the Money or the Expertise? Benefits of Business Process Services
It’s always about the bottom line – one way or another. Being able to focus on the core products or services of an organization makes it more possible to be the best at that product or service. It is the opposite of having to be a jack of all trades and master of none. This has obvious monetary rewards. Improving or outsourcing necessary but sometimes thinly related processes, allows energy and focus to be placed on what an organization has to offer customers. That, instead of having to become an expert in all of these other areas at the same time they are driving up costs while the learning curve is going on. In most cases, there is never enough time to properly address them.
Business process services also allow access to expertise or specialized skills that do not exist in the organization and that, for various reasons, the organization does not wish to invest in the fixed costs necessary. This benefit can be equally as important as cost savings – sometimes moreso. An example would best illustrate this.
In the marketing realm, online lead generation is one example. For each product or service that needs to be placed in front of potential customers online, web marketing specialists create and execute a marketing plan to make that happen. This type of service is highly specialized and most organizations, especially small to mid-sized ones, do not have this capability in house as it makes more sense to have access to these services only as needed.
Another example of adding expertise without the fixed costs would be related to IT and data management. Software as a service (SAAS) is an efficient way of not only electronically managing the documents that flow through an organization, but also outsourcing many of the expensive IT pieces involved – from hardware and software, to the IT professionals that are needed to install and maintain them.
These are just two of many types of examples of business process services which add value for the customer by efficiently focusing organizations on their core products or services. At the same time, costs are lowered as there is no learning curve and time wasting with staff, ongoing fixed costs for the same, while maintaining maximum flexibility to respond to scaling efficiently.