Archive for the ‘Off-shoring’ Category

Shop Direct “self-serve” process automation

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

More Blue Prism customer press coverage in British IT journal, Computer Weekly today. This time Shop Direct.

Two things leapt out at me from this article:

1. Shop Direct initially evaluated Blue Prism as an alternative to human beings and, specifically, to avoid offshoring.

2. An internal capability has been set up where business operations teams automate processes with minimal IT support bringing a new agility to managing the back office operation.

In short, Blue Prism will not appear on your integration or middleware architecture chart because it is a business application that is used by operational teams to automate their own processes: The “long tail” of process automation that is never going to make it onto the core IT program because of resourcing, economic or temporal reasons.

If I told you that Blue Prism was a software company with an “integrate anything” platform linked to a scalable and secure orchestration and execution engine, I’m sure you would glaze over. By listening to customers we are understanding how to express more simply what we do. Our website has changed quite a lot recently to help reflect this.

Robotic automation: driving next generation BPO?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Just reading through a “Outsourcing Business” pullout in The Times today. Lots of interesting stuff about Business Process Outsourcing and offshoring trends.

A common theme is how BPOs have used offshoring for labour arbitrage, or as one article puts it “Race for the bottom as companies cut costs”.

One new angle being explored, supported by a Blue Prism sponsored piece, is whether robotic software is going to start taking the place of offshore staff as a way of bringing new economics to delivering business processes, whilst increasing quality and speed.

The full pullout is available online. It’s worth more than a quick scan.

Will virtual FTEs deliver the next wave of back office cost savings?

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Virtualisation. It’s a term that is rattling around the IT industry like a pinball. Yet, unlike many IT terms (SOA anyone?) it seems to me, fairly easy to define.

Virtualisation has so far focussed on hardware, and software. Shared central resources providing computing power as needed, are sure to be more economical than local machines which carry wasteful overheads. This utility model can also apply to software. MSP, SaaS, Cloud – take your pick. All are aimed at making software available at the point of need, in immediately scalable quantity. All are managed automatically, with resources being selected to suit the requested task at any given point in time.

Let’s think about your back office for a moment, though. How many people work there – hundreds? Thousands? What do they all do? I would place at least a $1 bet that more than half are doing simple rules based processes. Couldn’t we apply the same principles of virtualisation to people? It’s like the opposite of the Mechanical Turk principle.

So far, efforts to reduce back office costs fall into three categories:

  • Large scale IT automation programs
  • Process Improvement – Lean/Six Sigma etc
  • Reducing input costs – work people harder, or offshore to cheaper labour rates.

But despite all these efforts, back offices are still hideously inefficient. Just ask any process expert who has worked in manufacturing and moved into the clerical world.

What if we could create a centralised pool of virtual FTEs*, using robotic automation techniques. Then delegate business processes to that pool to be executed at the most appropriate time to suit the business. These virtual FTEs can perform rules based processes interacting with other applications to achieve the process outcome.

It’s not just about cost savings, accuracy and the other benefits that go with any type of automation. It also provides process visibility and perhaps most importantly, scalability. Under-estimated your business volumes for that new product by a factor of 10? No problem in the virtualised world. In the “real people” world, how would you multiply the size of your workforce overnight?

Blue Prism’s experience is that the economics are very interesting indeed. The cost of setting up and managing a virtual back office is about 1/3rd of an offshore centre. So you can imagine the savings if you haven’t offshored yet.

* FTE – Full Time Equivalent Staff

O2 automation “saves millions”

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Good piece in Computer Weekly this week explaining how O2 used Blue Prism software to create a virtualised back office, replacing more expensive off-shored resources. This was done by operational staff who built their own automated processes based on an IT-supported Blue Prism platform.

The economics of operational self-service are too compelling to ignore, according to Forrester Research.

Is the end of off-shoring nigh?

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Is anyone else getting the feeling that the mood is really changing against off-shoring?

Based on anecdotal evidence from my own range of contacts in enterprise sized companies, I am starting to notice a trend towards bringing business processes back in house.

In fact this is not just about off-shoring.  Even local outsourcing is being affected.  Companies are starting to realise that most business processes can be done more efficiently in house, especially with the aid of technology.

This is leading to a new wave of efficiencies, and just as importantly, local control of business priorities.  It is leading to a new ability to manage the ever changing business landscape.  This is leading towards the nirvana of increased business agility.  Powerful stuff and I am happy to say that Blue Prism is playing its part in delivering the vision.

Lloyds TSB keeps on offshoring

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

I may have to rethink my last post about UK banks not being evil, after reading that Lloyds TSB subsidiary, C & G (formerly Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society), is shifting 210 IT jobs to offshore centres.

Lloyds has a history of progressively off-shoring IT, call centre, and back office jobs to India, so one can only presume that they know what they are doing and understand the full impact of off-shoring.

I just hope they are doing it for the right reasons and not just to save cost.

What frustrates me most is that we have the means to be so much more efficient in our own country without having to ship jobs to distant, remote locations. Perhaps the problem is one of misguided management, and management turnover, combined with pressures to report results in ever shorter cycles.  If I was a middle manager in a bank, and was targeted with short term cost savings, knowing that in two years I will be in a different job, so my third year measures won’t count against me, then I guess I would take a short term view too.

Indian wages rise – off-shoring ROI evaporates

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Interesting piece in the UK Independent today reporting rising Indian wages rising to 75% of the US level (20% only two years ago).  This is good news for Indian developers but bad news for companies who have off-shored purely and only to save cost.  No wonder US companies are finally starting to bring software engineering work back to their shores.

In the UK where IT off-shoring has been prevalent but not quite to the same degree as the US we wait to see if the same trend emerges.

Maybe we are getting to the stage where work will be placed for reasons of skill, geography, culture, convenience, service and team motivation – not just for cost reasons.  Or maybe work will just start transferring to the Far East, Russia, and Africa.  UK and US universities have plenty or representatives from these regions so the skills must be emerging.

Of course, I am referring only to the IT sector.  The Independent reports Indian call centre wages still significantly lower than in the West, although staff turnover is starting to spiral.  Smart companies who have outsourced important customer service operations (to the detriment of customer service), should take note before this turns into another wage spiral and eats up their ROI.

Are Offshoring and Outsourcing Different?

Monday, April 30th, 2007

An exchange of blog comments has found me and Bill in agreement yet again.  Management’s sole reason for outsourcing is to save cost.  Period.  (Or may I say “full stop” depending on which side of the Atlantic you are?).

However, outsourcing does not necessarily prevent co-location (outsourced staff can remain on your site), so in theory at least, using agile software development is possible.

But what about corporate allegiances?  Once they were part of your organisation.  Now outsourced staff, at some point post-contract (and it can take a while) have to go native and support the outsourcers corporate objectives – which include making money out of the client.  This doesn’t sound very compatible with creating mutual respect between business and IT and it especially doesn’t sound like an environment conducive to delivering a high quality solution that meets business needs.

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Offshoring Business Processes

Friday, April 20th, 2007

Last year Blue Prism sponsored some research into off-shoring business processes, front office processes – contact centres.

The shocking (not) conclusion was that Young People Don’t Trust Offshoring.

Blue Prism cartoon

It’s very clear that customers do not like off-shored services so why do it?

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Offshoring Software Development

Thursday, April 19th, 2007

I read a lot of IT blogs and many of them bemoan the off-shoring of software development to India and other “low cost” locations.

I’ve seen very few successful off-shoring experiments.  At Blue Prism we do not off-shore any software development.  We have a very small team who produce 5 times the quantity of code that a much larger team could produce and it’s top quality too.

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