We recently sat down with Colin Gray, the managing director of our Worksop-based division, DDC OS, to explain how business process outsourcing is so much more than heads-down labor arbitrage.
Can you begin by giving some background on The DDC Group, in terms of its history and where we are now?
The company was established back in 1989, and even then the focus was very much on data capture – though in those days it was essentially teams of people keying data from paper into data entry terminals. Of course, we can and do still provide some of those projects, but the industry has changed immensely. As a company, we have ridden along with waves of technology, both offshore and onshore, and grown along the way.
Globally, The DDC Group focuses on BPO activities, with the production hub based in the Philippines, where we have over 2,500 full-time subject matter experts, specializing in different back office processing skills on behalf of clients, from finance and accounting to medical and engineering abstracting. We also have a nearshore team in Sarajevo, which provide enhanced multi-language capabilities for knowledge-intensive processing required in a range of languages. The team can deliver services in 40 languages, and all of the operators can speak a minimum of 4 languages at a native proficiency level.
Of course, some clients have business or political reasons why they prefer not to use offshore, or even nearshore, services. Therefore here in the UK and in the US, DDC offers onshore production as well. Regardless of where the project operations are based, outsourcing offers more than just cost benefits, such as quality metrics, speed of turnaround benefits and integration capabilities.
Each of our onshore production teams are led by client-dedicated project managers, and offer the same services provided by our offshore teams, from scanning and indexing to cloud-based hosting, custom workflow development and robotic process automation.
Is there a specific type of business or organization for whom DDC's service offerings are particularly suited, or can outsourcing be appropriate ‘across the board’?
There is a wide variety of clients who choose to use our services: Government agencies, financial service providers, nonprofit organizations, transportation companies, research firms, and many more. Where appropriate, we offer automated capture via ICR, where we use template-free recognition technology to interpret the data on invoices or bills of lading.
Many potential users might initially see automated data capture as the option to aim for, as they see it as fast, afforable and accurate. In most cases it can be, but every now and then we have a partner whose project is more a appropriate fit for an offshore approach, leveraging a combination of customized software and a client-dedicated production team.
The key deliverable for our clients and partners is added value for long-term business health. For that reason, the focus of our business is not on merely the specific function or task that we are taking over, but the goal which the client hopes to achieve with our support. The production steps within our solutions are simply a means to an end.
So our approach as an organization is far more focused on increasing the value of the organizations we work with, as opposed to simply introducing a technology that can get complete a task?
Absolutely. Even with robotic process automation, we typically still incorporate a customized amount of hands-on attention as requested by many clients to guarantee service levels.
The majority of our partners, whether government departments or for-profit organizations, typically demand a quality metric standard of 98.5% or higher.
By working closely with the customer to understand the importance of their information and what their goals are, we can develop, tailor and implement best-fitting processes, procedures and reporting to achieve tangible results.
There’s limited value in just lifting out an internal process and replicating it elsewhere. It’s far better for our team to evaluate the process, its role in the business, understand client goals and then apply our experience to make the process not only more efficient, but more strategic. So it’s not just about ‘DDC has a team of people in the Philippines who can do it cheaper’, it’s more about introducing knowledge-rooted standardization that can improve turnaround times, eliminate errors and provide new business insights.