Digital processes and personalization have significantly affected the document outsourcing market. Companies that have succeeded in this arena are those that have invested in technology through R&D, partnerships, or M&A. This is also the focus of Ken Bechard’s timely new article in DOCUMENT Strategy.
Document Services Transformation
The traditional document services industry has definitely undergone major changes due to personalization and digital processes. Whether on the input or output side, document outsourcing has become a modern operation with more emphasis on high-tech automation over traditionally manually-intensive tasks. Long gone are “service bureau” days where a business provided basic digitization and data keying functions. Managed services are taking on more of the entire document-oriented business process, realizing that specialization and expansion of services is the real path to growth and differentiation.
The Next Generation of Outsourcers: Case Study
Take, for instance, the service bureau that processes claims on behalf of hospitals. Over a decade ago, this business ran successfully by taking over the task of scanning and keying-in data, which was then returned back to the hospital. With increased competitive pressure both here and abroad, successful bureaus have evolved into vertically-oriented managed service providers or business process outsourcers. To the imaging and keying, they have added claims review and screening, and even reconciliation with remittances. In essence, they have expanded to become the next generation of health payment outsourcers. The same transformation is occurring in general AP/AR processes and any other key and non-core business process that involves document-based data.
Hard-to-Process Data and Opportunities for New Efficiencies
Higher value can also equal higher costs. The data is more varied, more complex, and harder to process. Service levels associated with expanded yet more-defined services can be more stringent and demanding. So whether managed service providers need data location and extraction to reduce costs associated with manual keying of data, improve overall data quality processes, or to just make things more efficient, the use of technology is now a key strategic asset, not just a purchasing decision.
Interestingly enough, while there is continued pressure to expand services and increase efficiencies for these businesses, there are very few services that these organizations themselves can look to for help. Plenty of software solutions providers will be happy to sell automation software to these businesses, but it hardly solves the real problems:
- The software still needs to be installed, configured, tuned, and supported.
- BPOs and managed service providers need a trusted partner that can take the burden of implementation, tuning, monitoring, and improving the data processing performance so that they can manage their customers, related services and the associated SLAs.
- Additionally, technology, while a strategic investment, needs to be tied to the performance of the service, not on abstract pricing models.
Beyond just offering features and functionality tailored to services providers, the best solution will allow managed services and BPOs to enjoy cost savings of technology-based automation WITHOUT the typical upfront and ongoing cost increases associated with new technology adoption. Parascript is launching a new software-enabled service that removes the investment and implementation costs for services providers and focuses the relationship on a win-win approach.
Businesses offering services that involve documents and complex data extraction needs now have a much easier path to efficiency, increased profitability, and growth.