Simon Bates is a Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) practitioner with 30 years’ experience in outsourcing and offshoring. In this series of six blogs, he explains how specialist data management tasks are proper candidates for outsourcing.
This first blog is about recognising a business challenge and allowing the possibility that KPO might help with it.

We are all Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), and some of us are Managers and Operations Directors. As such, the seed of an idea is always there in our minds, waiting to germinate – an idea to better ourselves and our businesses.

As an SME, we may think, “Am I really making the most of my skills, my training, my experience, and my time? Couldn’t I pass on some of these everyday tasks I have to do to someone else, while I focus on what I’m qualified most to do? Wouldn’t I then fulfil my potential to the max?”

We like the feel of that! We wonder, “So, why are these tasks part of my working day and not part of someone else’s? I could train people to do them, and they’d be my support team – and they wouldn’t need to be SMEs – they wouldn’t need to be me…”

We fear the stony ground, however, and reflect. “My employer isn’t going to hire a team just for me, so I can do all the sexy stuff, and they do the grunt work. They will say, that’s more cost for no benefit. And, that team actually can’t do those things you want to palm off, because they are not SMEs – they are not you – and you’ll have to micro-manage them. You just want to have your cake and eat it! What’s the point?”

Meanwhile, as a Manager, we think of tactical matters affecting our SME team. “We need to get higher, more consistent accuracy into our data, or… We need to hit our deadlines more frequently, even during peaks, or… We need to address our difficulties recruiting and retaining staff of the right calibre, or even… We need to free up our SMEs from everyday tasks so they can focus on their key activities.”

The ‘how to’ may not be immediately clear, but the seed is there.

As an Operations Director, we are thinking bigger yet, searching for ways to achieve strategic aims. “We must increase our competitiveness and market position by becoming more cost efficient and flexible; and we really should reduce risk associated with our current operations and growth plans,” a COO might aver. “We want to achieve low-cost expansion of our capacity and operating hours, making the most of our limited capital for investment; and, strengthen our resilience against market instability.”

These are all necessary and forward-thinking notions. There are so many challenges of this type occupying our minds: how to launch new services quickly, reduce process duplication across offices, lower management and training overheads… Surviving and prospering are key.

Each of these thoughts across a business is the acorn that could grow to be an oak tree. Some do fall on fertile ground: the nutrients are there and the acorn becomes a sapling.

In these blogs, we look at what that fertile ground is and what those nutrients are – even how the sapling matures into a tree.

To appreciate the value of Knowledge Process Outsourcing (KPO) as a solution to business challenges around cost, sustainability, flexibility, risk and growth, read more.

Simon Bates is a KPO practitioner with 30 years’ outsourcing and offshoring experience.