During the early age of Sustainability journey, in mid 2006, Fusion (http://www.fusion.lk/) started experimenting on BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) as a new product to introduce at telecentres.
The convincing factor was - had the BPO's being introduced at telecenters, it can bring dual benefits to the telecentres; a) it can be a micro-enterprise offered at telecentres to the local communities, b). telecentre operators can make substantial revenue by offering services as a middle man.
BPO being not familiar in Sri Lanka, this required a lot of experiments. To mitigate the risk Fusion partnered with a private sector partner (CSM Pvt Ltd. www.csmsrilanka.com), who had screened the BPO service providers and engaged with negotiations with them.
As a first step, Fusion had run a pilot test with 3 telecentres. Objectives of the pilot were;to recognize the feasibility of BPO operations at telecentres,to identify the business model.
First two months of the three month pilot generated very convincing results. With the help of CSM, Fusion could recognize the less sophisticated (low end) BPOs such as Web page translations, Excel sheet productions, Power Point productions etc. instead of more coplex BPO operations such as Call Centres, accounting systems.
More importantly telecentre operators had embraced the BPO as a feasible product to serve their revenue ambition.
Yet, the third month was a nightmare.
Telecentre operators suddenly realized, they were not receiving the regular responses that they used to get every morning from the BPO service provider.
Fusion management learned the on-line communication lines to BPO service provider, becoming increasingly inaccessible. CSM Pvt Ltd, (the middleman company), nevertheless convinced Fusion, they are attending to the operational problems.
Yet, in one morning, Fusion was shocked to learn from CSM, that the BPO Service Provider had disappeared into thin air.Whole Sri Lanka, was too late to realize the country had been cheated by a notorious BPO operator.
It was a very painful month for the telecentre operators as well as Fusion. Only the consolation was, CSM provided assurance, that they would find another BPO service provider to continue the journey. And Fusion is still waiting with hopes.
The positive side of the experiment was, Fusion learned BPOs are feasible. Yet need to be more cautious at establishing business relations.