A fascinating experience with a Board representative of a client some years ago left a profound impact on what senior business leaders value and the decision-making process in selecting a service provider. This encounter inspired me to share this article on one of the most important attributes in selecting a service provider, the human resources element!
The encounter with the client occurred 4-5 years ago. I recall the very nervous wait leading up to the visit. The client was a hugely important one for us and we were rather overwhelmed at the time when we heard of the senior Board-level representation in the delegation. After the presentation, the client expressed an interest in a walk through our floor and he took some time to speak to one of our process associates. Our young associate was obviously quite excited and flustered and went on to describe the work he was doing with great excitement and in great detail! Our client listed very patiently, nodded his head and thanked him and moved on.
The following day, in a meeting with our senior leadership, he brought up the encounter with this associate and his take on the chance encounter stunned me. He told our Group Finance Director, when I spoke to this boy, who was probably doing a fairly routine role, he was so passionate and excited by what he was doing, and so enthused by his work, that he decided at that moment that he wanted to work with us! We were overjoyed and that was the start of an outstanding successful journey with the client that blossomed with the years and grew stronger. Years later, our client recalled the name of the associate and asked after him. It was certainly an eye-opener on what a client valued, what they looked for and what was important for a service provider to demonstrate. Human resources, the talent of an organization, is vital to any business but particularly so for a BPM industry where the service offering is purely built on its people.
Whilst a BPM focuses on building its processes, technology, tools, documentation and client acquisition strategies, its people strategy is paramount. Experienced buyers will examine the people strategy, the ability to recruit, the ability to scale up, retention, training, what the employees say and the cultural fit and alignment with the client values and priorities. Hence here is my top ten when evaluating potential service providers.
- The management team. Is it a one person show or a strong team. Does the management team have diversity, a mix of skills and talent, different view points and ability to interact, question and add their thoughts freely.
- The employee engagement activities and HR calendar. Check out the employee activities, employee comments especially on the company’s Facebook and Instagram posts. These could be very revealing. The spontaneity, the creativity and the smiling faces are difficult to manufacture, particularly over a period of time.
- Employee testimonials. What do employees present and past say of the company? Look for learning opportunities. These could be found on social media and even through some interviews.
- Employee success stories. Look for those who have risen up the ranks, including in the management committee
- Employee longevity and retention. Whilst attrition is a useful statistic, it is worth looking beyond the numbers. How long have key employees been with the company, casual conversations could be very revealing
- Passion and excitement. This of course is based on gut-feel and one’s judgement but again impossible to hide. A service provider and its employees have it or don’t. What is the passion and keenness they demonstrate? Do they go the extra mile? Are they willing to take a call on a Saturday of afterhours? What wow factors do they demonstrate?
- HR calendar. A chat with the HR team would be useful. What activities have they planned in the HR calendar? Do these demonstrate creativity and energy? What strategies do they discuss for talent development, development plans?
- Training. A discussion with the trainer is highly recommended. Look at the training plans, what trainings are provided to employees? Look at a mix of technical and soft skills and personal development plans. Check for assessments, training material and cutting-edge programmes. Look for talent development programmes such management trainee and apprentice programmes
- Strong links with educational bodies and ability to scale up. What is the service provider’s links with educational bodies? Whom do they work with? Any partnerships and certifications? What is the confidence and ability to scale up?
- Culture, values and vision. Understand the ethos and purpose of the organization. Is there a clear purpose, beyond business? Do they live and breathe their values? Finally, will this culture be a fit with our own? Will the service provider align with my values and ethos?
The checklist above looks beyond the methodologies, processes and technology and will be vital in establishing a long and satisfying partnership.
Infomate, www.infomateworld.com, is one of Sri Lanka’s leading BPM’s with 16 years of experience and a portfolio of clients 4 continents. At Infomate we are proud of our people strategy, our links with universities and professional bodies, and of our world-class training. Most of all, we take great pride in our people. The passion, professionalism, excitement and creativity of our people is what differentiates us. At Infomate we believe in the principle of making a difference through business and pioneered the concept of rural BPM in Sri Lanka creating over 200 rural jobs over a decade, touching and uplifting many lives. Equal opportunity is a creed we live by. Any and all, have access to the same dream, regardless of gender, caste or creed, people with disability, all are welcomed to the infomate family. Infomate is committed to sustainable practices, to renewable energy, to reducing the use of plastics and responsible business practices. We take pride in living our tagline, simplicity, trust, excellence. Infomate is a subsidiary of Sri Lanka’s leading conglomerate, the John Keells Group (www.keells.com)