Impact Sourcing At Work: Achieving Social and Financial Impact
This is the final blog in a series of three on the topic of impact sourcing. In the first one, I covered the fundamentals of the model and in the second, the value proposition and business case. Now, I’ll share insights on the nature of work it is best suited for and the activities the model can potentially deliver.
Work suited for impact sourcing
Given that the targeted talent for impact sourcing are individuals with disadvantaged backgrounds, their skills levels are typically suited for specific types of BPO activities as given below.
- Transactional, repeatable, and high volume: Typically includes non-voice support for back-office work and voice-based work on a selective basis when business needs align with talent capabilities
- Bespoke work, not amenable to “industrialization”: Typically requiring human intervention to handle case-to-case customization or work that cannot be fully automated
- Work that is generally suitable to offshoring: Typically includes work with no regulatory or legal restrictions on offshoring or in situations where cost savings and efficiencies are key objectives
Having said the above, impact sourcing employees have demonstrated a wide-range of aptitude from basic data entry to complex data processing. For example, Pangea3 used impact sourcing to deliver complex contract abstraction services; Deloitte in South Africa is using impact sourcing to deliver accounting services and is considering hiring impact workers in its other offices across Africa.
Is impact sourcing actionable?
So, what does this mean for companies considering impact sourcing for BPO work? Are there tangible examples of work where companies use impact sourcing in a meaningful manner? The answer is an unequivocal yes! To illustrate impact sourcing in action, consider the example of a typical optical character recognition (OCR) image validation process given in the box below. The blue text represents activities that fit with impact sourcing and may be completed by impact workers.
A typical OCR image validation process:
- Documents prepared for scanning
- OCR software process converts document to TIFF, JPEG, PDF image. Software reads text block by block and translates into machine language
- Agents validate translation by software
- Agents index data or text to enable content based retrieval
- Quality control by supervisor/manager
- QA releases to database or document management system
There are many more such processes where impact sourcing can be an attractive fit for delivery of BPO services. Some of these are given below.
Sales & Marketing
- Sales data capture and validation
- Content conversion, editing, and tagging
- Document digitization (e.g., customer forms digitization)
Supply Chain Management
- Data entry (e.g., order entry, package tracking)
- Document digitization and archiving (e.g., claims forms)
Finance & Accounting
- OCR image validation
- Invoice data entry
- Indexing invoices
- Paper invoice digitization and archiving
Industry Specific Operations
- E-commerce support (e.g., transcription, translation, content tagging, basic online research)
- Debt collections
- Location tagging
- Domestic voice support in vernacular languages
- L1 technical helpdesk
- Document scanning and indexing (e.g., employee expense claim forms)
- Data entry in HR information systems
The notable point is that there are companies already using impact sourcing to deliver many of the services mentioned above. For example, RuralShores is delivering invoice processing, mortgage document digitization, customer care, logistics management services using impact sourcing. Accenture uses impact sourcing to deliver not only basic F&A processes but also more complex HR, PO, F&A functions. These are also echoed in the examples from Aegis, Infosys, and Quatrro. We also saw earlier how Deloitte and Pangea3 are using impact sourcing for complex work. These examples substantiate that impact sourcing is actionable and a viable alternative to traditional BPO.
In conclusion, in this series of three blogs, I discussed how impact sourcing is an established phenomenon that offers access to previously untapped talent pool, lower attrition and the ability to achieve corporate social responsibility and diversity objectives as compared to traditional BPO. There are many large, global companies that have acknowledged the benefits of impact sourcing and have adopted it in their business process service delivery. It is a win-win business service delivery model with optimized enhancements and creates tangible positive impact on people that extends to communities as well.
The Rockefeller Foundation aims to catalyze the impact sourcing sector in Africa through its Digital Jobs Africa Initiative. The Foundation’s role is to ensure positive social and economic impact on 1 million people by supporting high potential but disadvantaged youth to work in the dynamic outsourcing sector in Africa, benefiting them, their families and communities. The Foundation recognizes that the most sustainable and scalable path to achieving this impact is because of the tangible business value impact sourcing provides. Impact sourcing enables companies to purposefully participate in building an inclusive global economy, gaining business efficiencies while changing people’s lives. See more.[ssba]