The Raison d’Être of Knowledge Process Outsourcing

When companies for whom data and information are of primal importance look at their operations, they see highly-qualified experts — those people whose daily output contributes directly to the top line. Such people can be at work at any level, and in any step within the business process that leads to products and services being rendered, but their particular knowledge and skills make them de facto experts, without whom the business would produce nothing. Who specifically are these people? Within your own business, you will certainly know. They are the technical salespeople, advisors, analysts, designers, editors, engineers, inspectors, planners, scientists, technicians… Importantly, experts cost money and they generate wealth.

Of course, hour by hour, things change. At lunch, experts are all cost and no value. Yes, lunch is important, but it does not directly result in a report, decision or outcome… only indirectly by fuelling the body and brain. The same with other breaks: the ones that nature demands, coffee machines entreat, and karma occasions. (It is known that great things can be achieved at these times, but they are primarily moments of distraction.) This chart breaks down a hypothetical average day into its component activities — experts will vary!

No KPO - Fireworks

Experts provide output directly only when they are busy doing what they were employed especially to do (see chart), where they fully express their raison d’être1Raison d’être time is when advisors advise, planners plan, and technicians do clever stuff. Most experts do not have the luxury of flat-out raison d’être time, however. Their day is compromised by necessary evil time. What’s that? Necessary evil time is time spent reporting on or preparing for raison d’être time. During this time experts are also all cost and no value. Part of necessary evil time involves administration, where the expert satisfies the needs of bosses and team staff. The other part is where the expert does research, data capture and cleansing, data retrieval and organization, preliminary analysis and other tasks that form a necessary precursor to raison d’être time, but which do not themselves tax the expert to the full extent of his or her potential, or contribute directly to the top line. If companies see their experts — indeed, their teams of experts — spending necessary evil time on such tasks, they might stop to think about Knowledge Process Outsourcing… KPO. Necessary evil time is the raison d’être of KPO, which is both financially advantageous and liberating as we shall see in a subsequent blog post.

- Simon Bates

1The most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.