This second blog is about trying a low risk, low investment KPO proof of concept.

While the acorn – that seed of an idea for bettering our routines and our businesses – may be conceived by an SME, Manager, Operations Director, junior administrative assistant or anyone else, at the heart of the development of the seed into the sapling is what the SME team does. Whether SMEs are involved in engineering, medicine, insurance, retail, law, or any other field of endeavour – and whatever the level – does not matter.

Fertile ground for the acorn is found when the business simply takes the idea and says, “What if I could release SME potential by outsourcing just one of the everyday duties the SME team has and so help the business?” Nutrients become available when, firstly, the directors are at least prepared to have a conversation with a Knowledge Processing Outsourcing (KPO) provider; and then, secondly, directors see for themselves the negligible investment and risk involved in having a go without disrupting business as usual.

The sapling that grows from the acorn represents the very first step in the adoption of KPO, whatever the ambition for ramification may be! Nothing more is needed than to apply water and provide nutrients – a good horticulturist will show you how to nurture.

A KPO provider is not simply a resource, but an expert in its own right, an enabler and a partner, who knows how the idea is realised in a sustainable way and can explain what benefits will accrue. With the provider’s guidance, a carefully selected task from the SME team is made the subject of a KPO proof of concept (POC), while business continues unperturbed.

The key is to understand that tasks and SMEs are not inseparable – tasks such as research, analysis, data collation, capture, indexing… those tasks that naturally fit in an SME’s day because they must be done, but lend themselves to being defined and absorbed by a support team, liberating the SME. This is an outsourced team having the capability to take on an intellectual task in a controlled fashion, while still being connected to the workflow of the business operations, and delivering the expected outcomes with advantage for the business – lower cost and risk; greater sustainability and flexibility; and ready infrastructure for growth.

The KPO provider puts experience and resources into that proof of concept, along with the infrastructure to deliver to agreed levels of performance. Investment by the business is limited to engaging collaboratively under a non-disclosure agreement with the KPO provider, transferring intelligence in a phase of knowledge sharing, and satisfying itself that the goals are indeed achieved. While this goes on, the business-as-usual internal process runs safely in parallel, limiting risk: if the POC does not deliver, nothing is lost; if successful, transition to the new way of operating follows.

By nurturing that acorn to become a sapling, the scene is set for a new tree to mature as a vital part of operations.

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.