THE HOME OF THE GLOBAL SOURCING STANDARD
Accenture is helping United Utilities, which manages and operates electricity distribution and wastewater networks in northwest England, improve its customer service performance through a nine-year business process outsourcing agreement.
Accenture is responsible for delivering all services across back-office functions related to income, debt recovery and billing operations.
“By using a series of initiatives based on our utilities industry successes in North America, Accenture is helping United Utilities improve its operations, with a specific focus on those related to customer service,” said Keith Mueller, managing director of Accenture Business Services for Utilities.
As part of its customer-service initiative, United Utilities has brought its call center operation back in-house, with operations concentrated in Whitehaven, Cumbria. The center had previously been outsourced to Vertex.
“I’m delighted to have teamed up with Accenture,” said Charlie Cornish, managing director at United Utilities. “We are serious about continually improving customer service, and our agreement with Accenture will not only help us deliver on this promise but will do so at a lower cost-to-serve. The journey will take a number of years, but we — and we hope our customers — have already begun to see the benefits in a number of areas, including improved call handling.”
Allianz Global Investors Kapitalanlagegesellschaft mbH and Xchanging, the international, pure play BPO company, have signed contracts to establish an enterprise partnership to provide retail investment account management services. Subject to competition clearance, Xchanging, through it’s Financial Markets business, will hold a 51 percent share in the Hof-based Fondsdepot Bank GmbH and will take over the operational control of this unit effective from 1 November 2007 at the latest.
The strategic goal of the partnership is to strengthen and grow the position of Fondsdepot Bank as the high-capacity, neutral provider in retail investment account management and to generate third-party business for the cost-effective platform. The partners will focus on expanding their business with independent financial consultants and broker pools and on exploiting the business potential arising from the growing trend towards the outsourcing of administrative processes.
The partnership will provide Allianz Global Investors with guaranteed cost savings through a multi-year service agreement with clearly defined service targets.
“With this partnership we are offering exciting future prospects for both Fondsdepot Bank and the operations in Hof. Moreover, we are leading the way for the consolidation of an essential part of the asset management value-added chain”, Dr. Thomas Wiesemann, CEO of Allianz Global Investors KAG, comments.
The partnership endorses Xchanging’s strategy as an international pure-play BPO company and brings a modern technology platform for retail investment account management services. Furthermore, it allows Xchanging to enter the European growth market of asset management and gives the outsourcing specialist the scale to provide new customers with attractive retail investment account management services to add to those offered in securities processing.
David Andrews, Xchanging CEO said, “we are delighted to partner with such a prestigious international organisation as Allianz Global Investors. This, together with our other partnerships signals our leadership in processing for the financial services industry.”
As a result of the partnership with Xchanging, Fondsdepot Bank will gain additional momentum in the areas of process optimisation and efficiency improvement. This will significantly increase Fondsdepot Bank’s productivity. The partners stress that operational stability during the transition phase is assured as the business will remain on the same secure platform. With continuity of both management and staff, the Fondsdepot Bank customers will see continued high levels of service standards.
The 8 year service agreement has an initial contract value of €400m. Supporting this, Xchanging, through it’s Financial Markets business, will acquire 51% of Fondsdepot Bank for a cash payment of €13m and has granted a put option to Allianz Global Investors for the remaining 49% for €13m exercisable after 4 years. At 31 December 2006 the net assets of Fondsdepot Bank were €26m and the gross assets were €38m. At completion there is expected to be in excess of €10m cash in the balance sheet. This is an important investment for Xchanging to extend its balanced onshore/offshore strategy with a high quality, near-shore facility in Hof. Fondsdepot Bank is regulated by the Bundesbank and BaFin, has a partial banking licence and employs more than 400 people.
Indecomm Global Services, a leading international business process outsourcing and services firm, has acquired Brainvisa Technologies Private Limited, a leading global eLearning solutions company. This is the second acquisition done by Indecomm Global Services this year after it recently acquired US Recordings, a US-based leading provider of mortgage recording solutions.
Welcoming Brainvisa to the Indecomm Group, Naresh Ponnapa, President and CEO of Indecomm Global Services, said “eLearning is the answer to the global resource crunch for skilled workers and will help the transformation of traditional business models into the e-Business paradigm. Leading companies worldwide are resorting to technology based training solutions to keep their workforce skilled, productive, innovative and competitive. We believe that having Brainvisa in our fold will be the perfect complement to our business goal of optimizing our clients’ business processes, improving productivity and powering their competitiveness in the knowledge economy.”
Commenting on this development Supam Maheshwari, Brainvisa's co-founder and CEO, said “In just over six years, Brainvisa has matured into an integrated end-to-end learning solutions provider. In Indecomm, we have an organization that understands the value that we can create for our customers through well-designed and delivered learning solutions. Indecomm’s innovative and forthright approach to business, its strong relationships with its clients, and its substantial resources will help Brainvisa consolidate its position as a global learning solutions provider. We expect to gain a lot from Indecomm’s global execution model, with its blended onsite, onshore and offshore delivery structure. This association will also will help Brainvisa embark on the next phase of its journey where we expect to see aggressive expansion, both organically and inorganically.”
Brainvisa is one of the largest global Learning solutions companies and helps businesses around the world to increase learning effectiveness by designing and delivering customized learning solutions aligned to specific business objectives. Brainvisa’s key competencies are its instructional design and end-to-end learning solutions. Brainvisa, one of the fastest growing learning solution company, currently has a 450-strong development team in two state-of-the-art development centers in India. Brainvisa offers end-to-end blended learning solutions which includes Consulting & Training Needs Analysis, Design and Development, Deployment and Maintenance in aviation, logistics, pharmaceutical, BFSI, telecom and technology verticals. It has presence in the United States, UK, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. Brainvisa’s client roster includes leading Fortune 500 companies, who have benefited from Brainvisa’s solutions in achieving a competitive advantage through increased sales, improved productivity, reduced time to market, improved employee retention, and reduced training time.
Local government HR staff have been reassured about their jobs following a £46m deal which will target council back-office contracts.
Mouchel Parkman and HBS already work together on a £300m, 12-year strategic partnership in Oldham through the Unity Partnership. It also recently won preferred bidder status for a 10-year partnership with Somerset County Council.
The business process outsourcing market in the UK is currently worth more than £4bn, growing at nearly 10% per year.
Softtek, the largest private IT service provider in Latin America, announced today that it has completed the acquisition of I.T. UNITED, a leading China-based provider of software development and outsourcing services. This strategic deal will significantly boost Softtek’s capabilities to serve the global needs of its clients by leveraging I.T. UNITED’s existing capabilities and China market positioning.
With this acquisition, Softtek adds the eighth Global Delivery Center to its network of centers in Mexico, Brazil and Spain. Softtek has gained a strong reputation in the IT & BPO global sourcing industry through its trademarked Near Shore model, which pairs world-class execution with global proximity to fill the gap left by India-centric outsourcing models.
“Our clients are increasingly looking for ways to leverage a true global delivery model by which they can take advantage of a strong network of multi-sourcing alternatives,” said Beni Lopez, CEO of Softtek Near Shore Services. “I.T. UNITED has been the recipient of numerous recognitions in China and abroad, and by adding their capabilities, we are taking our value proposition one step further.”
Cyrill Eltschinger, founder and CEO of I.T. UNITED, will continue in his position. Eltschinger has worked in the IT services industry for nearly 20 years and in China for almost 15 years. Prior to I.T. UNITED, he spent eight years with Electronic Data Systems (EDS) on various assignments in Europe, the United States and the Asia-Pacific region. “As a result of this integration, our clients will gain a competitive advantage from Softtek’s global proximity edge,” said Eltschinger. “Softtek’s Near Shore model, serving to and from the Americas, Europe and now Asia, represents a very compelling solution of choice in terms of quality, scalability and cost competitiveness in a complete follow-the-sun model.”
“China not only represents a huge and strategic market for our clients, but also is a place that has the skills, quality and scale required by today’s dynamic outsourcing market,” said Blanca Treviño, president & CEO of Softtek.“With this acquisition we are uniquely positioned to bring value by combining the outstanding customer experience of our Near Shore model with a robust network of global resources. We call it Global Near Shore.”
An investigation into a security bug on a UK visas website has painted a damning picture of “organisational failures” by a government agency and its contractor.
The online UK visa application website for people in India, Russia and Nigeria was provided by VFS Global, a commercial partner of the joint Foreign Office and Home Office agency, UKVisas.
The report, conducted by independent investigator Linda Costelloe Baker slams UKVisas’ outsourcing of the online service to a firm that is not an IT specialist, the contractor’s performance and the failure to respond adequately when the security hole was first revealed.
Around 3,400 IT and business processing staff employed by outsourcing firm Siemens have secured 4% pay rises after threatening strike action.
Two separate pay deals cover 1,400 staff working for the BBC under its £2bn IT outsourcing deal with Siemens and 2,000 other staff working on a range of other contracts – including those at National Savings and the Identity and Passport Service.
ASDA has chosen to appoint GlobalExpense to manage its employee expense process.
Approximately 2,500 colleagues that claim expenses on a monthly basis will be able to use the service: mainly store managers from across the UK and head office colleagues based at Asda House in Leeds and George House in Leicestershire.
Mike Hazelgrave, Asda Reward Manager, said: “We estimate that we will save approximately £200,000 a year by using GlobalExpense's employee expense management process.
The contract was signed in March 2007, but GlobalExpense has worked with ASDA since October 2006 on a pilot scheme. The GlobalExpense system was rolled-out in March 2007, first to colleagues in ASDA House and George House, and will be rolled out to all store based colleagues by end of August.
“We were still 100 per cent paper based when it came to colleague expense management,” said Mike Hazelgrave. “Colleagues were unhappy with the manual system especially colleagues who travel extensively overseas.
“Before GlobalExpense, we processed colleague expenses via the payroll function and claims were reimbursed with colleagues’ salaries. Colleagues sometimes had to wait up to five or six weeks before being reimbursed. Being a global company, colleagues that travel regularly are often out of the country for between six to eight weeks and for them, the delay between making a claim and receiving payment was often much longer. Now colleagues can claim expenses online, anytime, anywhere and be reimbursed directly into their bank account within a week.
“The new system allows our audit team to track more easily what’s been claimed for, check it against the company policy and even change the policy if they see that it is unrealistic or leading to waste.”
Most e-tailers appear to manage their own website operations while a few have chosen to outsource this aspect of the business. In the US, Amazon.com runs e–commerce sites for a number of retailers and in April 2005 Marks & Spencer announced that Amazon Services Europe would look after the technical side of the Marks & Spencer website and link in-store, telephone and online ordering systems.
Outsourcing of these functions is becoming increasingly common but it is important to consider the high level issues before e-commerce operations are contracted out, in order for the relationship to succeed.
Understanding and clarifying objectives
The most important first step in any outsourcing arrangement is to analyse and identify the key drivers for taking such a step, and to have a clear understanding of its outcomes and benefits. The most obvious advantages for the retailer are time and money savings but there a range of other advantages. In particular, the retailer may hope to benefit from the latest technology without having to invest manpower and money developing its own systems.
The retailer will also hope to benefit from the outsourcing service provider's expertise, allowing it to improve its consumer service levels leaving the retailer to concentrate on its core competencies of marketing and growing the business. For example, outsourcing critical back end functions such as customer service and e-fulfilment enables retailers to get their e-commerce initiatives up and running much more quickly than if they have to build the entire infrastructure. Marks & Spencer believed that taking advantage of Amazon's established technology would allow its website to reach its full potential in 2006 and allows the in-house marketing and sales teams to focus on their core values.
There are potential pitfalls in any outsourcing relationship and these need to be managed carefully. For example retailers need to manage their reputations carefully and avoid any brand damage that a supplier could inadvertently inflict. It is important that retailers consider the following:
• What its internal drivers for outsourcing are; the commercial consideration over the venture; and its defined objectives
• Clarifying its overall e-strategy and considering how outsourcing will support such strategy
• Which outsourcing model is best, for example: indirect, tied, direct or joint venture.
E-tail is a very specific function to outsource and the retailer must consider specific e-commerce issues. If a traditional bricks and mortar retailer is moving into e-commerce for the first time then this will be the first time some of these issues have been considered. Roles and responsibilities can be split between the retailer and the outsourcing service provider if this is clearly agreed and understood in advance. For example, consideration given to points such as: electronic stock control, security (e.g. information and e-tail loss reduction), order fulfilment, warehousing and distribution, helpdesk and consumer support, integration with multi-channel and payment processing.
Managing the negotiations and meeting objectives
Prior to agreeing the deal with Amazon, as would be advisable, Marks & Spencer reportedly talked to a number of interested parties. This is a sensible move. It is crucial to source the services carefully and once a short list is selected, to perform sound due diligence on suppliers before a final selection is made. In order to ensure the supplier is financially stable and therefore able to commit to a long-term outsourcing contract, the retailer should insist the supplier makes financial information available to them. It is not simply a question of who can perform the service most cheaply; issues of capability, culture, relationship and other factors can be as important to long-term success as price and finding a supplier that ticks all the boxes rather than just the cost efficiency box is the key to success.
The outsourcing contract must include the details of the arrangements including how the provider will be paid. This may sound simple but there are different payment models, such as the service provider taking a slice of the online revenue. Parties should be very clear about who is responsible for legal and regulatory compliance. Other negotiation and contractual considerations include:
• Sole-vendor or multi-vendor tendering (consider the RFP objectives and process)
• Negotiation strategies & negotiation process (will there be parallel negotiations and will negotiation strategy include specific session goals)
• Negotiation problems and escalation
• Service Level Agreements and contract issues, e.g.
- Service level agreement (SLA): key performance indicators (KPI) and remedies.
- Contract: provisions for enforcement of obligations, continuity of services, exit provisions, term, tax issues
- Front-end legal and regulatory issues: e-commerce, distance selling, data protection, online marketing laws and regulations
- Back-end arrangements: website hosting, design and development, and content.
Balancing / managing expectations during negotiations and through service term
It is of paramount importance to update and evaluate an outsourcing relationship to find out exactly what works and what doesn’t and to identify and rectify any problems whilst they are in their infancy. Outsourcing relationships are often regarded as partnerships. It is important that the outsourcing contract and the relationship must be developed to anticipate and accommodate change factors.
For example, this may include considerations for:
• Retailers – In an instance where high cost savings are not realised a retailer will need to audit and evaluate to ensure this is rectified immediately. It can also be the case that a retailers needs change, for example if they grow or shrink in size or change focus, a supplier relationship and subsequent contact needs to be able to accommodate for this. Supplier financial difficulties are another factor that needs to be considered. If a supplier goes bankrupt leaving you out of pocket and with no service, how you tackle this needs to be taken into consideration. Overall, the best approach to take is to aim to minimise costs whilst maximising protection (and therefore minimising retailers risk).
• Suppliers - Need to be wary of unclear obligations and unanticipated costs. Meticulous preparation and planning is required to ensure that nothing catches you by surprise. Adding on costs or arguing over obligations can leave a bad taste in a retailer’s mouth and may sour a relationship. Maximising profits has to stay at the front of a suppliers mind in order for the company to remain profitable. Allocating risk to retailer can help a supplier protect themselves if the project does fail. There should always be joint responsibility as an outsourcing project is not a case of out of sight out of mind and should consist of a partnership.
Online retail is thriving: many reports indicate that online shopping over Christmas set new records across all sectors from sales of groceries to gadgets. Many retailers now adopt the multi–channel model, with customer reach not only through stores, catalogues, telephone but also through websites. Retailers that take their website operations into an outsourced relationship should consider the issues very carefully to ensure that the arrangement is based on a solid legal and commercial framework.
AstraZeneca has signed a seven-year £736m global IT outsourcing contract with IBM.
According to Gary Harwood, client executive at IBM, the agreement is among the first of a new breed of outsourcing agreements based on desired outcome or "service effect".
AstraZeneca will maintain control of its IT strategy but use joint governance boards so that IBM will determine how IT is delivered while AstraZeneca will have control over the broader IT infrastructure.
Other areas of joint collaboration drawing staff from both companies will include innovation and managing cultural and behavioural change to ensure both companies work well together.