Build Operate Transfer Model in Call Centres
A build-operate-transfer model does exactly what it says on a tin. A company (normally a call centre outsourcing term but occasionally a real estate business or a consultancy firm) build a call centre to your specifications. They then operate this call centre for a period of time before transferring over to you to manage.
This particular model was especially popular when the offshore boom to India first started. Those companies who traditionally prefer captive call centres as opposed to outsourcing their operation realised that they didn't necessarily have the skills in areas such as legislation and staff management in India and so this model fitted them perfectly. One of the most well-known UK examples of this was Aviva (Norwich Union) who wanted to reduce their cost base but didn't have the knowledge of Indian working practices. However, they wanted to have control over their staff and working practices that wouldn't necessarily be prevalent in a traditional outsourced model and so decided to go down this path.
There are various different sub-models of this operational model. For example, some companies will pay for the fit out or in some circumstances the outsourced vendor will do so and then amortise the costs over the duration of the agreement. These agreements tend to last for a fairly lengthy period of time. For a sizeable operation, it would be hard for the time from build to transfer to be less than 3 years but there are examples where it has been 7 years or more.
The process should work something like this. The 2 parties to the agreement decide on specifications for the building and technology requirements which are then put in place. The outsourced vendor will then run the recruitment process for all staff often in conjunction with a representative from the client. As with all outsourcing style arrangements, there is normally intensive involvement from the client in the initial stages to facilitate knowledge transfer. Once operational, things run fairly similar to a traditional outsourcing model with the exception that there is usually more client involvement. This is because the client will want to facilitate the knowledge transfer of working practices to the client. The client will often start to employ their own locally based staff to manage certain aspects of the relationship. Once the contract duration has been completed, theoretically, the whole operation including and everything surrounding it is transferred to the client. This may involve a fee which would have been agreed prior to the initial contract being signed. I use the word 'theoretically' as in many examples, the agreement is extended to allow for more knowledge transfer.
There are many advantages to this kind of model including in terms of cost and control. However, to make this successful, planning prior to contract agreement is essential if it is to be a success. You need to consider the roles of the 2 parties carefully and ensure a plan is put in place to deal with the knowledge transfer back to the client. You also need to consider carefully which staff are transferred over to the client on completion. One other area to consider is what happens if things don't quite go to plan. For example, what happens if you no longer wish to transfer the centre? What happens if KPIs aren't being met during the operational phase? These kind of agreements involve longer terms and more concrete arrangements than a traditional outsourcing model and so it is essential to have a legally binding agreement to deal with any and all eventualities. When the call centre outsourcing boom slowed down in India and moved to The Philippines, this type of arrangement has become less popular. In many aspects, they have been replaced by a model whereby the client outsources to a 3rd party vendor at the same time as they build their own facility. As the client becomes more competent, they transfer more and more of the work to their captive facility. This may also include the transfer of staff from the outsourced vendor to the client although this should be agreed in the contract phase with them.
This article was written by Rob O'Malley, a leading expert in call centre outsourcing who can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org