Whether organisations are already outsourcing some or part of their operations or are looking to outsource, there are a series of challenges pre-award, post-award and those that may have an impact in the future. Below are the findings of the roundtable Spencer Brooks, Co-Founder & CEO at The Knowledge Group (tkg) conducted at the Contact Centre Outsourcing Summit.


Three of the main challenges in pre-award are around quality, cost and culture.

The challenges around quality are mainly focused on two key areas – the quality of suppliers themselves, and then ensuring buyers have the ability to deliver an effective service. When referring to the suppliers themselves, many seem to be facing challenges around ensuring that suppliers have the expertise to meet the requirements set out in proposals. In terms of service delivery, there are some concerns that the quality of the delivery of the service may not be achieved once the solution is in place. Buyers are looking for agile, proactive and innovative suppliers, particular when it comes to technology. There is therefore a risk that some suppliers may be overpromising in their proposals, and in fact, significantly underdelivering.

Clearly, there are many challenges facing organisations pre- and post-award when it comes to managing costs. In the pre-award stage, many are concerned about the costs of finding and onboarding suppliers. Many are also struggling to know the best way to forecast future capacity needs in the post pandemic world. While there’s a general consensus that the cheapest option may not be the best option, the need to ensure value for money and getting what you pay for, was outlined as crucial. Many are also considering automation as a way to drive costs down.

Finally, when trying to find the best suppliers to work with, culture is a clear driving force. There is an obvious desire to ensure that the supplier has a thorough understanding of how your organisation works and what you need. Without this, there is a potential for reputation risks or brand damage. Finding a supplier that is interested in your culture and is a good business fit is seen as critical. Equally, another challenge is the blend of managing relationships between your in-house teams and those of your outsource supplier. On top of this, many organisations are increasingly faced with flexible or hybrid working practices.

All of these challenges around quality, cost and culture should be addressed and understood in the pre-award stage, so that all requirements are understood, and to ensure that there is consistency between the buyer and the suppliers from the outset.


Three of the main challenges in post-award are around transparency, communication and partnership.

From the outset of the relationship with the supplier, it’s clear that building transparency is key. This often starts with ensuring that internal teams are clear on what has been set out in the agreement. This way, the buyer can start the relationship with clarity and consistency. Many of the challenges listed focused on performance and delivering what is set out in the contract. If the suppliers have overpromised, then this can have lasting implications for the future of the relationship. Buyers can support suppliers by ensuring that there are effective governance measures and processes in place. It is therefore vital that the teams involved in supplier sourcing are aligned with operational teams. By taking the time to build open and honest relationships, when problems do arise, it is much more likely that a mutually beneficial solution will be achieved.

Another challenge listed is communication and clearly this is an important aspect to get right through all levels of the buyer and supplier relationship. For the leadership teams, it’s vital to have access to the respective key decision makers and budget holders in the supplier organisation. When understanding the organisational structure, it’s also important that both parties have clear reporting lines in place, so that issues can be resolved quickly, and communication is effective. Within this, it is therefore important to ensure that
feedback mechanisms have been implemented, so that processes can be regularly reviewed and improved upon. Above all, establishing two-way communication and ensuring that the supplier is an extension of the buyer’s business, is seen as critical.

Partnership is another challenge that has been outlined post-award. Partnership is clearly closely linked to transparency and communication, and a core process in ensuring that the solution is watertight. Within this, it is therefore crucial to establish trust with suppliers and see them as an extension of in-house teams, rather than creating an “us” and “them” culture. To do this, it is noted that there is a balancing act between delivering what is set out in the contract and empowering the suppliers to give the best customer service. To do this, set expectations early on and establish effective two-way methods of communication, share best practice of what has worked before and also what hasn’t, and implement continuous improvement strategies.

An effective partnership consists of many elements, two of which are transparency and effective communication. The processes around this should be continuously reviewed and refined, so to ensure that both parties are delivering on the requirements and creating an effective customer experience.

Future challenges

Three of the main future challenges are around technology, expectations and change.

Technology is clearly seen as a major driving force for many organisations but also does pose a significant challenge for buyers and suppliers alike. The main areas that are focused on are around the implementation of artificial intelligence and automation, and what this meant for the future workforce. While this could mean that there are significant costs in terms of technology infrastructure and implementation, there could be potential significant cost savings from a reduction in employee costs.

Technology is viewed as presenting opportunities for organisations in terms of digitising the customer journey, gaining greater insights and improving response times. However, there are still question marks around what this will mean for organisations, what impacts the Metaverse will have and what potential risks could arise. The most important element is ensuring that the service is still being delivered effectively.

Customer expectations are also viewed as a challenge, as they have evolved significantly over the last decade, and this trend is likely here to stay. Customers are considered to want better, quicker and more efficient experiences, and this creates a significant challenge for both buyers and their suppliers. Buyers noted that they will likely have a delicate balancing act between managing costs and staying on top of managing their customers’ expectations. This is also seen as having an impact on staff training and retention and what that will mean for performance. The ability to remain agile and innovate is noted as a benefit for those organisations who are able to evolve at the same pace as the industry.

Change is another challenge that organisations believe will impact them in the future. The sector has faced significant changes recently, and this is unlikely to change. An example of this that was noted, are the flexible working practices that many organisations adopted as a result of the pandemic. There are questions around whether employees will look to go back to the office or will take advantage of the new ways of hybrid working. This then has the knock-on effect of questioning whether to continue to invest in office facilities or instead turn attention to more permanent cloud-based solutions. Many note that this does bring some uncertainty regarding employee retention and data security, for example. Additionally, organisations foresee that the new regulations put in place as a result of Brexit and the ongoing invasion of Ukraine and the corresponding impact on the European market, as future challenges.

Organisations are therefore facing significant future challenges; however, this is seen as also presenting opportunities for growth and transformation. Therefore, it is viewed as crucial to stay atop of technological advancements, evolutions in the greater industry and beyond, and changes in consumer demand.

About the Author

Spencer Brooks, Co-Founder & CEO, The Knowledge Group (tkg)

Spencer has worked in the BPO sector for +25 years. With an accounting background, Spencer has been part of some of the industry’s most innovative commercial arrangements in the BPO Market. From this platform, Spencer has worked both buyer and sales side of the procurement line, using this knowledge to establish The Knowledge Group (tkg).