How About Uber To Summon Your Nurse and/or Healthcare Provider ?....

A Business Process Outsourcing  (BPO) Service usually  means an existing service being outsourced to a provider typically located in the Philippines, India or any of the other major hubs for Business Process Outsourcing.

Sometimes the BPO center will try to develop a better mousetrap to accomplish the business rather than just completing the task as specified a new product innovation is born.

These product innovations then have the potential to become its own defined  product which can be sold or cross marketed. By doing so BPO centers go up the value chain. Rather than just being the executioner of a business process...they become the driving force behind it.

A great example of this strategy is what Intelenet has done. Intelenet is an Indian based BPO company acquired by Blackstone in 2015.

Intelinet developed an application named  Radius which will effectively allow a user of nursing/home-care  services to summon a nurse via an Uber like application.

The application tracks the entire process, from accepting and recording the request, to delivery and completion.

It is not uncommon for a bigger retirement or assisted living facility to have more than a 100 (sometimes a few hundred)  healthcare professionals on the premises. Scheduling and routing the staff which is often times provided by outside agencies is a major logistical challenge.

An application which would allow a flexible and immediate summons of healthcare staff if and when needed without going through an extensive scheduling operation should in theory generate tremendous efficiencies.

What used to be a phone heavy scheduling operation has effectively become a decentralized network with Uber like characteristics.

Time will tell if the market place adopts it but it is certainly a great example of what can happen when a BPO provider goes upstream.


Why Decision Makers Should Seriously Consider Outsourcing A Company's Information Security ...

Outsourcing Cyber Security has been a hot button issue for quite some time. There is a hesitation among CEO's and CIO's to delegate this task to outside service providers who might or might not have the needed experience.

Of course...the concept of outsourcing "due diligence" or "external supervision" is nothing new to a company. CEO's are being supervised by a board of  independent directors.  Financials are being compiled and analysed by independent auditors. A lot of companies are externally supervised by a regulatory organization.

As such the concept of hiring an outside party to develop and implement a coherent cyber security strategy should be appealing.

To gain a better understanding why companies should consider outsourcing their Cyber Security strategy it is helpful to review what a good security strategy encompasses.

Cyber security means a lot of different things. Most commonly though it is understood that the following areas fall into the category:

  • Application Security Testing
  • Vulnerability Management
  • Secure Web Gateway Services
  • Secure Email Services
  • End Point Protection
  • Employee Code Of Conduct Testing and Training

The challenge faced by corporations is that cyber security is a highly specialized skill set. It also requires a constant need to stay up to date with the latest technologies.

These skills are not easy to come by and as any hiring manager knows...finding the requisite skill sets at the right price is exceedingly difficult.

Just from a pure cost perspective it might seem attractive  to outsource the service.

More importantly though, apart from  the cost, qualification and knowledge issue there is another key point why Cyber Security should be outsourced.

Any time cyber security is done In-House companies risk that they effectively put the fox in charge to guard the hen house.

A key component of a good cyber security team is that they look for vulnerabilities and weaknesses in areas the existing IT team has no idea such weakness exist. Turning over rocks which hadn't been turned over before is what yields the best preemptive security review.

In House staff might simply not realize that a vulnerability exists until an outside party succeeds in exposing it.

The expertise and depth of knowledge an outsourced cyber team should have will  yield much better results in a shorter period of time.

Why Excel And Email Should Not Be The Backbone Of Your Outsourcing Relationship...True Story What Went Wrong

Amazing but so true....It is a well established fact that a lot of companies are managing their outsourcing relationship through the use of Email and Excel. For a small job limited in scope and duration this solution might do the job, at least on the surface.  (I would always advise against it though).

What is a bit surprising  is that even bigger contact values, some of which have annual contract values of a few hundred thousand US-$ (or more) are being managed this way.

I recently had a discussion with a new client who is, to put it mildly, in major trouble because their outsourcing vendor and the company agreed to collaborate using email and excel.

Now...there are lots of reasons why this is  a bad idea. (productivity , level of collaboration and so on...)  For today though I will limit myself to tell the story what happened to my client.

The company started with a vendor in Bulgaria about 3 years ago. The relationship commenced  with a small software development project, limited in scope and duration.

As mentioned earlier..the use of email and Excel might seem adequate at first ...but you never know what might happen.

Sure enough, the outsourcing vendor did a pretty good job and the relationship continued to evolve. Additional layers were added to the initial development, each with its own functionality.

What was a small and isolated deployment became an enterprise solution.  Everything worked just fine. The relationship was managed by a project manager in Bulgaria and the head of IT in the US.

Let me be clear what I mean when I say "It worked just fine".

What worked was the day to day operation and cooperation between the vendor and the company. Senior management on the company side did not get involved and neither did (so it seems) management on the Bulgarian side.

As is often times the case in the the outsourcing world....the vendor decided to merge with another entity.

Both of the outsourcing companies agreeing to merge were smaller which might explain what happened next.

The Project Manager on the Bulgarian side decided he was dissatisfied with the new working arrangement and left. A new Project Manager was put in charge...but unfortunately he did not have the complete access to all of the old emails.

Apparently a decent chunk of the emails were sent  and received from the personal laptop of the Project Manager...and when he left he took what was his personal laptop.

What ensured was that the Head of IT became the back up to the Bulgarian company. A relationship which worked because both parties had worked together and knew the functionality  of every development became one sided. The new Project Manager in Bulgaria was now being trained by the Head of IT.

From there it went downhill rather quick. Some old emails hadn't successfully migrated when the Head of IT had gotten a new computer. The very same files were not available anymore at the now newly formed Bulgarian company. Obviously a major problem.

The Head of IT..undoubtedly recognizing that trouble was brewing...then tendered his resignation. A new Head of IT was appointed and by the time he fully started to get into all of the mechanics of the outsourcing relationship it was time for the old Head of IT to leave.

At this point it had become apparent to everyone involved that what was a successful relationship had suddenly become a major mess.

There was almost no documentation, the chain of emails was often times non nonsensical because anything discussed and agreed via skype was at least partially missing and it had become sometimes impossible to square the discussion of an email chain with the functionality or module which was discussed.

In short..there was no place for the new Head of IT to get all the relevant information relating to a specific development...nor was there a chronological approach for him to review the emails to get a good understanding what had transpired.

Fortunately the company managed to work through the issues and it overcame what was a very difficult time.  Some of the missing files were recovered  from old back ups and the new Head of IT made it a point to assemble proper  documentation.

It had taken months to clean up the mess..but at the very least there was no need to discard prior work.

The lesson to be learned here is that all of the problems and difficulties could have been avoided through the use of a proper collaboration tool.

There are a few software solutions which allow for a complete management of the relationship, offer built in back up functionality and are, by their very nature, ideal to generate the documentation needed so that a new person coming in can get up to speed.

We use Active Collab ( but there are obviously other tools available.

At the end of the day it does not matter which tool is being used..the important thing is that something is being used. Email and Excel won't do it..and the above is the story of one CEO who learned this the hard way.