The business of business process outsourcing continues to evolve, presenting new challenges, but also new opportunities. Companies have long been comfortable with the concept of outsourcing certain back office functions like payroll. Outsourcing providers can handle the ever-changing tax and regulatory requirements faster, less expensively and more reliably than their clients can internally. Today more and more business processes are impacted by a combination of new regulatory, legal and even internal board-driven compliance requirements. This new dynamic, the potential for automation and the increased use of cloud technologies and software as a service (SaaS) options that allow processes to be managed and delivered from virtually anywhere in the world, create a perfect storm to make the outsourcing of back office processes very compelling.
As a business process outsource (BPO) service provider you face some of the same challenges that drove your clients to you. How do you master the art and science of providing compliant-ready solutions, leverage leading edge technologies to create new opportunities and scale your business? The answer might be more “apparent” than you think. There’s a new kid on the block named Apparancy that can help. But that new kid is no rookie because Apparancy is powered by Corefino, a cloud pioneer with a ten-year history of defining and refining business process excellence in meeting financial compliance.
Who are Apparancy and Corefino?
Apparancy and Corefino are sister companies. Corefino is the big sister, founded in 2004 by Karen Watts, who is herself a former Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Five years later Corefino officially launched the “Future of 21st Century AccountingTM,” a three part solution for the strategy-minded CFO. At the time I called it a “triple play;” Corefino called it people, place and platform:
- People: Corefino is a BPO, completely taking over all routine accounting functions of a company, eliminating the need for an in-house accounting staff and freeing up the CFO to focus on revenue and profit strategies.
- Place: This is the cloud part. Operating as a value added reseller (VAR) of software as a service (SaaS) accounting solutions, Corefino established strategic partnerships with enterprise application solution providers such as Coda, Intacct, Intuit, NetSuite and SAP for accounting applications, ADP for payroll, Xactly for incentive compensation and Adaptive Planning for financial planning and budgeting.
- Platform: A framework of best practices and workflows, introducing yet another “triple” play, trademarking its Triple-C PlatformTM to connect, correct, and comply. “Connect” refers to 24 x 7 connectivity to financial data and processes. More than 500 best practices for accounting business processes, including workflows and quality assurance checks assure “correct” and auditable financials that “comply” with requirements such as GAAP, Sarbanes Oxley, and IFRS.
While I found the price and value offered remarkable at the time, and Corefino did attract some early strategic thinking pioneers, it proved to be a bit ahead of its time. In 2009 most CFO’s were simply not ready to trust their financials to the cloud, and perhaps not even willing to let go of the day-to-day control of accounting, even if it meant less headaches and lower cost. So while Corefino still retains and supports those early adopters, it didn’t grow very aggressively. That gave founder and CEO Karen Watts the opportunity to rethink the concept to extend it beyond the CFO. She took the best part of business process management, workflow, cloud and compliancy, added social and mobile components, and built new repeatable purpose-built business processes into a compliance-centric, audit-worthy framework. And Apparancy was born.
There are lots of tools on the market to build workflows. This isn’t one of them. It is actually much, much more. It started with those 500+ best practices and went beyond financial requirements to address compliance needs of new and additional stakeholders, combining technology with rich content in the form of intellectual property: best practices.
The result: a purpose-built, compliance-centric workflow solution for transparent business management. But while Corefino remains in the service business, offering a turn-key CFO-centric solution, Apparancy is all about platform and content for a purpose-built solution. But it doesn’t deliver the people performing the service. It leaves that enormous opportunity to its BPO service partners. That’s just one of the reasons BPOs that provide back office services might want to strongly consider partnering with Apparancy. Are you a BPO service provider looking to expand your business? Or make it more efficient and productive? If so, read on to discover why a partnership with Apparancy could very well be a win-win.
Expertise: Compliance-Centric Best Practices
While you (the BPO) are an expert in your business, Apparancy is expert in applying technology to compliance-centric processes. Born out of the need for financial compliance and strong enough to satisfy the toughest critics (the CFOs), Corefino’s offering was built on the foundation of over 500 best practices. While the initial value proposition of Corefino was to free up the CFO from day-to-day operations in order to add more strategic value, its early customers also reported 30-50% cost savings. This speaks volumes in terms of Corefino’s expertise and the effectiveness and efficiencies of operation.
While the initial value proposition of Corefino was to free up the CFO from day-to-day operations in order to add more strategic value, its early customers also reported 30-50% cost savings. This speaks volumes in terms of Corefino’s (hence Apparancy’s) expertise and the effectiveness and efficiencies of operation.
Not only has Apparancy inherited these processes, along with the business process expertise, it has expanded beyond the needs of the CFO and has also added a strong technology platform to deliver these processes. Apparancy has the advantage of being both new and cutting edge, yet has the maturity of ten years in business at the same time. It adds a new approach and new ideas, on top of solid experience and a strong track record of delivery.
Scale Your Business: Work Smarter, Not Harder
If you are a BPO, you are essentially running a service-based business. Unlike a manufacturer or a software vendor that can design and develop a product once and put it on the shelf to deliver, you constantly design processes and execute them. While you might not be billing by the hour, you still don’t have the natural scale of a product-based business.
Reusable, Repeatable Processes
As in any service-based business, the key to profitability is efficiency and productivity. The key to efficiency and productivity is making the process reusable and repeatable. While each of your customers might be unique, most portions of their processes are not. If you can deliver a custom-configured process without having to design it from scratch, you save time and money. If you base that common process on industry best practices you not only stand to improve it, but also you start producing your own revenue faster. And that revenue is “sticky.”
Apparancy delivers a framework and best practices designed for specific processes and even for specific industries. Think of the platform delivered as the technology and the best practices as “content” for the tool. “Content” is king. While there are plenty of tools on the market, adding intellectual property (IP) to build in best practice process models, workflows, exception handling, activity monitoring, audit trails and more allows you to scale your business well beyond the limits of a traditional service billing.
The Critical Link: Process to Systems
While the process (defined as a best practice) is essential, it brings no value unless it can be executed. And where processes are required for compliance with tax, regulatory, legal or internal regulations, they must also be auditable. This means linking the process, not only to the people but also to the enterprise systems, the applications that provide a system of record of the business. Linking the process to the systems insures the process is repeatable with no variation: the very definition of quality. BPO providers that are long on processes and short on systems may have difficulty in insuring that processes are executed efficiently and accurately.
If as a BPO provider you occasionally (or regularly) resort to throwing people at a problem, you know this can potentially result in not only making matters worse, but also having a significant and negative impact on the profitability of your own business. The premise behind Apparancy’s marriage of platform and process is to keep systems, people and processes aligned so that your capacity can increase without unnecessarily adding people or complexity.
Because this content (IP) is so critical, Apparancy will deliver purpose-built solutions for different industries and different organizational roles. Healthcare is the first of these target industries, chosen for two very good reasons: it is a highly regulated industry where compliance can mean life or death and it is also an industry undergoing very significant change and facing enormous challenges. The human resources management function is also a target across all mid-sized U.S. businesses and organizations in the private/public sector needing to comply with the new Affordable Care Act requirements.
The market for healthcare-related BPO services needs no stimulus and BPO providers can benefit enormously from pre-defined best practices and a framework of compliance. Through a partnership with Apparancy, a BPO can combine tools with expertise and intellectual property and deliver a turnkey solution with far less design and development up front.
Social, cloud, mobile and big data are the big hot trends in the industry today. Yet many BPO customers have yet to avail themselves of these new technologies. Whether they are stuck on legacy solutions, or simply have their heads stuck in the sand, these companies are prime targets for modernization yet may not have the budget or the stomach for ripping and replacing existing systems. By layering Apparancy on top of existing solutions, you, the BPO provider can bring these modern trends to your customers.
Of course if you have progressive thinking customers, they might be leading you down this path already. Stay a step (or two) ahead of them by building a center of excellence with proven pre-built processes, designed for specific compliance requirements and packaged with ROI-based testimonials. Or take the next step and attach your own custom-built or personalized extensions to create upsell and cross sell opportunity.
Summary and Key Take-aways
Never has the BPO industry seen more opportunity or more challenges. As compliance requirements continue to grow and change, more and more companies are turning to the experts: you, the BPO service provider. Where do you turn to accelerate your go-to-market strategy for offering compliance-built business process management solutions? If you want to:
- Leverage leading edge technologies
- Create new opportunities
- Scale your business
… you may also want to consider a true cloud-based, compliance-proven veteran like Apparancy to get a jump start on building or extending your portfolio offerings.