Back office business process outsourcing (BPO) is administrative support provided through a contractor that handles these services for multiple companies with administrative needs. Companies may choose to outsource for a variety of reasons. It is often cheaper than keeping services in-house, and may provide access to special skills or high quality support services that would not be possible otherwise.
The types of services available through back office BPO can vary. They can include transcription services for medical offices, order processing and billing, and market research. Some may conduct other research on behalf of their employers, to assist with the preparation of reports on a variety of topics. Employees at a back office BPO service provider can also provide data entry services, both on demand and as part of an ongoing task like entering new customer information.
Some offer accounting, including advanced accounting services. The back office BPO personnel can handle a variety of administrative tasks for their clients. Because they serve multiple companies at once, they are less expensive than maintaining in-office staff. It may be possible to cut costs even further by looking for back office BPO outsourcing in an area with lower wages, where personnel expect less for their work because of the prevailing wages.
Businesses may take advantage of back office BPO to cut costs and increase flexibility. They maintain a core of staff in their headquarters to perform tasks that cannot be outsourced, like handling of confidential material that cannot be trusted to a third party. Using a variety of digital media, they can quickly and easily communicate with the outsourcing personnel to send and receive data, discuss issues, and send orders for new projects. Personnel in the back office BPO office may also maintain irregular working hours, if they are located in a different time zone, in order to be available during the regular business day.
This practice is criticized in some regions, where some advocates argue that back office BPO and other outsourcing activities deprive people in a company's home region of jobs they might otherwise have. Proponents believe that the cost cutting can allow companies to expand in other areas, or to offer products at lower prices, which may benefit consumers. The debate over outsourcing activity occurs in a number of nations and involves a number of parties with interests in the topic, ranging from employee unions to trade groups that represent specific industries.