Call Center Outsourcing is Not Spend Management BPO

I came across this press release from Braintree Group in my inbox this morning, announcing their move into the Spend Management BPO market. According to the release: "Braintree Group's goal is to help companies with the entire lifecycle of BPO arrangements: Setting the strategy. Developing a procurement-to-pay business plan. Defining the need. knowing what to outsource and what to retain in house. Deciding on potential vendors. Managing an RFP selection process. Negotiating the contract for predictable costs and appropriate quality. Selling the decision within the company. Designing the implementation plan. Managing the transition. Monitoring the results."

Now, to be 100% honest, I welcome all vendors who want to serve customers in the Spend Management arena. Especially from a services perspective, it is an underserved market. But it is laughable to me that any offshore firm is claiming capabilities such as "managing the transition" or "setting the strategy" for Spend Management BPO. These are areas where, if it was my spend, I’m not sure if I’d even trust the former Big Fives of the world to get it right. Why? Personally, I believe that to excel at all aspects of indirect BPO, you need to understand the entire Spend Management operation, including direct materials procurement, which is a skill set that very few professionals in the Big 5 have had, at least historically. Because of this, I highly doubt that a boutique BPO provider would have them as well. Hey, maybe I'm being too hard on Braintree. Certainly Pakistan is an underappreciated region from an outsourcing perspective. But to me, when a firm moves from offering call center outsourcing to Spend Management BPO, I'd sooner duck and run for cover rather than be a guinea pig for what amounts to low cost labor arbitrage (which is entirely the wrong approach to outsourcing any aspect of procurement, in my book).

Jason Busch

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