Credit Where Credit is Due


innovation   noun
1: a new idea, method, or device:  NOVELTY
2: the introduction of something new

Such a simple word, yet sometimes so problematic – especially in a business context. Is the thing you’ve done truly innovative, or is it an optimization or an improvement? Does it really matter if the outcome is a change for the better?

For BPO companies, innovation can be a tricky subject. “You’re not innovative enough!” Is an intangible stick customers like to beat you with, especially during contract renegotiations. The worst thing is that you’ve been quietly making things better behind the scenes because – well, because that’s just what you do, right? You make the difficult look easy. The trouble is that quiet innovation is not always your friend – your customer needs to recognize what’s got better and why it’s new for them.

Part of the problem for many BPO companies is that even though they innovate they don’t have a transparent method of capturing and then cataloguing the ideas, their source, and whether they have been either discounted or implemented. If they have kept a record of the changes made, they probably haven’t captured the benefits resulting from those innovations.

At BusinessOptix, we believe innovation management is as important as risk management, financial management, or compliance. A system for innovation opportunity management should include the following:

  • A way of capturing the innovation - What’s the idea? Where does it originate from? What does it impact?
  • A mechanism to log the result of the triage / assessment review – Should we do this or not and why?
  • An ability to use simulation tools so the impact of the proposed change can be calculated (based on an accurate and dynamic representation of current business operations).
  • An ability to feed the proposed change(s) into program and project management tools so they can be implemented efficiently and effectively.
  • A feedback mechanism that captures the actual benefits achieved so they can be compared with those anticipated at the assessment stage. This is not only a useful confirmation of the benefit of the change but also allows you to assess the efficacy of your triage process and look at how delivery risk is managed
  • A reporting mechanism that quantifies the performance of the innovation process, in terms of the number and flow of ideas and the benefits realized.
  • An ability to link the results from the innovation process to the organization’s corporate goals, so executives can understand the value to all levels of the business - not just operations.

It’s a comprehensive list because it’s a subject we thought about a lot when we built innovation management into our platform. Our mining, modelling and simulation capabilities make it easier to spot areas for improvement (which equate to cost reductions beyond your delivery budget). Collaboration and lifecycle management tools give greater transparency of the innovation process, as well as allowing your customers to be a part of it. Our innovation opportunity management tool includes a dashboard which showcases the number of innovations identified, of what type, and their value, both discrete and cumulative. Taken together, these capabilities make tangible the innovation you’re providing for your customers.

If you’re a BPO company and you’re tired of being unfairly beaten with the “absence of innovation” stick, perhaps it’s time to stop hiding your light under a bushel and get systematic about the value you’re delivering.

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