How to Succeed as a Global SSO/BPO Delivery Manager

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Introduction to Service Delivery Manager's Role

Many global organisations have set up shared services and outsourced work to major BPOs in order to manage Finance and Accounting, Supply Chain, Technology, HR, Marketing and Digital services. Many others are keen to embark on this journey given the scale of benefits and transformation it brings in. 

The COVID-19 situation might have delayed such decisions, but in fact, proved a catalyst to accelerate plans to outsource, often at a larger scale and in a shorter timeline.

Shared services and outsource providers have delivered excellence even in remote working environments, thereby proving the decision to outsource was right, and indeed, helping with business continuity. 

The continuity of service delivery / excellence before and also during COVID-19 was primarily possible due to the service delivery managers who managed the various process streams at these shared services and BPOs. It’s not just their individual competencies and effectiveness, but also their capability and leadership in creating a winning team that helped deliver success at all times. No doubt the demand for such delivery managers will increase manifold in the coming months. 

These managers are now no longer perceived as just service providers managing deliverables and resources; their role has evolved and transformed a lot. They are now more agile and dynamic with the mindset of excellence, partnership and leadership. Today, they are perceived as strategic partners in the client’s digital and transformational journey. 

So, what does it take to play this instrumental part?

Let’s dissect the role and understand the relevance of this individual in today’s scenario …

The entire role of the delivery manager can be grouped into three towers:

  1. Process
  2. People
  3. Customer

The sub-roles listed below keep intersecting with each other and influence the end results in a big way. 

Process: 

  • Service Delivery 
  • Transitions Management
  • Project management
  • Transformation 
  • Knowledge Management
  • Controls and Compliance
  • Audits
  • Contractual Obligations
  • Business Continuity Planning
  • Subject Matter Expertise
  • Staying Ahead and Innovation

People:

  • Team Management
  • Career progression for the direct and indirect reportees
  • One-to-one sessions and periodic reviews 
  • Hiring: Sourcing to Deployment
  • Rewards and Recognition
  • Learning and Development
  • Retention and Attrition Management

Customer:

  • Stakeholder and Relationship Management
  • VOC
  • Escalations Management
  • Tiered Governance 
  • Contribute to Customer growth, which can fuel growth for the organization

Let’s understand them in a little more detail

Process: 

Service Delivery – Schedule and own the delivery of daily, weekly and monthly tasks in scope. Ensure on time and in full (OTIF) delivery of services. Own the assignment of tasks, tiered reviews, turnaround time (TAT) and service levels agreed (SLA). Adhere to the quality requirements. Ensure a brilliant basics and zero-defect environment. This is now the minimum expectation and benchmark.

Transitions Management – Plan, review and deliver the transition of new work requirements in a timely manner. Obtain sign offs on the toll gates. This can be a mammoth task, especially if it’s a new client relationship (or) initial set up of the shared services (or) scale-up of the Global Business Services. Detailed planning and effective execution of this stage means the path is set for a seamless service delivery and client relationship.

Project Management – Identify, plan, execute and deliver the project deliverables. In an evolving client environment and frequently changing process requirements, there are bound to be short-, medium- and long-term projects that are key to the client engagement and relationship. Adherence to the project tasks and RACI is very important to achieve the goal.

Transformation – Focus on continuous improvement, cross-tower collaboration, and opportunities identification to deliver the cost savings and productivity. Strategize and transform using the principles of eliminate, simplify and automate. Support and lead the client- and organisation-driven transformation programs. The transformation requirements can be contractual and non-contractual, and are a key component to thriving in a client relationship, and key to the continuity of services in today’s scenario.

 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

 

Knowledge Management – Create, maintain, update and own the desktop procedures. Ensure the inclusion of process steps, controls and detailed workflow to the lowest level. This is the bedrock of the overall service delivery and resource management. Own and manage the statement of work (SOW) and RACI documents as agreed in the contract.

Controls and Compliance – Understand, review, own and manage the ongoing compliance to applicable controls (key and non-key controls). The controls undergo periodic changes. Any miss or misinterpretation can cause significant financial loss and process impact, and can shake the entire relationship.

Audits – Support the corporate, SOX, internal, external and special audit requirements. Contribute to a clean audit with no remarks. Ensure timely resolution and process updates if any observations are made by the auditors. Continuous control monitoring is key to avoid surprises during these audit reviews.

Contractual Obligation – Awareness, understanding and right interpretation of all the service components is key to the continuity of the work. Support the contract team by adhering to all the contractual requirements outlined. Support billing team to ensure no leakage of revenue and timely billing. 

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) – BCP is a key component in any business environment and especially in the BPO, GBS and shared service space. After the recent pandemic experiences, this is the most relevant topic and focus area for all stakeholders. Adhere to the hot and cold testing, simulate the BCP scenarios, location strategies, plan the work and resourcing requirements in line with the contractual agreement

Subject Matter Expertise – Be the subject matter expert for the process portfolio. Partner the sales pursuits, and sales and marketing teams. Curate and update content around the scope of work managed and transformation driven. Presentation of relevant topics to internal and external stakeholders. Growth of organisation is key to the growth of people and this is the engine that will keep it running.

Staying Ahead and Innovation – Above all, it’s very important to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. Leverage best practices from other processes and engagements. Attend seminars, analyst webinars, techno sessions, and SSON/Shared Services and Outsourcing Network events, CFO events, practice workshops and quality programs (Lean Six sigma, Green and Black belt certifications). Read white papers on the latest technology and trends in shared services and BPO. RPA, artificial intelligence, S4 HANA, blockchain and many more such developments are in progress that will change the entire landscape. Lack of awareness of the “future” of process can even lead to extinction.

 

People:

Team Management – Responsible and accountable for the people management tasks. It includes work assignment, time planner, overtime approvals, task approvals, billing validation, leave management, process improvement plan and exit tasks. It’s even more challenging in today’s world given the global roles and the fact that team members are spread across multiple locations and offices in addition to the ones working from home. Adding to that, today you need to manage the bots and virtual machines. Yes, the team members are not just the physical ones but the virtual ones, too.

One-to-one Sessions and Periodic Reviews – Ensure continuous and meaningful connects with all direct and indirect reportees on periodic and need basis. Make sure this practice is followed at all levels below. Timely engagement and periodic reviews of the progress made at regular intervals helps team members and managers mutually align on performance levels and areas of improvement; as well as understand professional and personal challenges. Document the progress as per the organisational mandate. A better aligned team member contributes to “seamless process delivery” and “elevated customer experience.” 

Hiring: Sourcing to Deployment – Identify the need to hire, prepare business cases, prepare job descriptions, raise requisitions and obtain approvals. Own the hiring cycle, support the sourcing, review the profiles sourced, document, share feedback, and be part of the journey till the selected resource joins the organisation. 

Learning and Development – Onboard and own the end-to-end training through to the license to operate cycle for new joinees. Identify the development needs of existing team members (on the job and off the job, including soft skills of business communication and presentation), map them to the competency framework, and assign and nominate to relevant trainings (in person and virtual). Create the platform for learning and development by setting up a training framework. Monitor the progress and provide timely support to team members to learn and develop. 

Rewards and Recognition – Ensure timely recognition of the team members through various channels – awards thru the R&R system, project bonus, retention bonus, client awards, pat on the back, on the spot awards, e-mail appreciations, fee reimbursements, annual gifts, team events and outings. At times a pat on the back delivers much greater impact than the monetary rewards, and costs nothing. Engage with the employees on the vision and objectives of the organisation for the period ahead through townhalls and virtual meetings. Make them feel part of the journey. 

Retention and Attrition Management – One of the key responsibilities is to retain the talent. Listening, empathy and compassion in both official and unofficial interactions go a long way to attract and retain talent. The class apart is not just about being a good mentor, but it’s about the focus and passion to build mentors in the value chain below, which can be a big game changer for the organisation, client and self. Identify top talent and ensure career progression and succession planning. Timely closures of the exit tasks, when a team member resigns, and ensure a seamless exit experience.

 

Customer:

Stakeholder and Relationship Management – This is the most important and critical task for the delivery manager. Building a strong relationship and continuous connect with customer can deliver great results. If “process” and “people” roles are well managed, half the job is done and it would mean a “happy customer”. At times, a well-connected and trusted customer can help sail through difficult scenarios.

 

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work – he is the purpose of it.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

Escalations Management – Create, own and update the tiered escalation process. Ensure timely response and closure of all the issues. Create and own the closure of root cause analysis (RCA) for all the issues identified/ raised. Track the work performance and bring in the necessary changes to improve the services.

Tiered Governance - Governance is key to build, sustain and improve the relationship. Own the governance requirements as per the contractual obligation and process requirements. A tiered governance structure and ownership is key to the success of the relationship with client stakeholders. The tiered governance includes varied range of topics including service delivery, SLAs, controls and compliance, transformation, project updates, contract and billing. Delivery manager owns the preparation, review and presentation of the topics, followed by sharing minutes of these meetings and closing actions. 

VOC – The voice of the customer. It can be heard through the organisational surveys (tool driven/ manual collection), leadership reviews, periodic meetings, VOC sessions and contractual steercom reviews. Own and review the feedback. Feedback helps sharpen the service delivery and helps to take it to the next level. This is a key measure of the process performance and client relationship. It’s a checkpoint of whether the customer recognises us and perceives as a true partner/service provider!

Contribute to Customer growth – It is important the delivery manager understands the professional and personal goals of key stakeholders. This helps in working out a win-win environment. A trust-driven connect and influence with the stakeholders on the customer side can lead to good mining of planned and unplanned growth opportunities. The delivery manager plays a key and indirect role in supporting the revenue growth and service expansion. Provide timely leads to the sales and marketing team to take the relationship further in identifying newer opportunities/ extending the scope of services.

 

Summary

The delivery manager role is known by many designations in shared services and BPOs. Some of these designations are Team Manager, Operations Manager, Practice Manager, Service Delivery Manager, Senior Manager, Engagement Manager, AVP, General Manager and Service Director. The role of a delivery manager actually sounds like an entrepreneur.  If nurtured well, he/she can be a great leader capable of building an institution in itself.

 

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