As outsourcers move toward what they hope will be a positive 2022, many offshore and nearshore destinations are preparing to establish their positioning to win new BPO deployments.

Still, this dynamic is rapidly evolving. Now, for countries looking to secure new outsourcing investment, a location’s capacity to offer the best operating environment possible has never been more critical to would-be investors.

The Offshore BPO Confidence Index 2021 (which can be downloaded here), published jointly by Cognitive Copy and Ryan Strategic Advisory, brings this reality to the forefront. The report, which sounds the views of nearly 100 outsourcing country managers, indicates challenges to service delivery in even some of the most established nearshore and offshore destinations.

The report revealed some surprising concerns about human capital. For example, BPO executives in Poland and Nicaragua have doubts about their capacity to recruit scalable numbers, as well as the linguistic and CX capabilities that prospective employees bring to the table.

On the plus side, respondents in El Salvador, Colombia, and Mexico share a high degree of confidence in their ability to find front-line agents and leadership talent. Equally, there was a great deal of faith in Honduras and Bulgaria to provide strong language skills – no surprise considering the longstanding reputation these two destinations have as nearshore multilingual hubs.

Infrastructure was another matter. Jamaican respondents cited a shortage of available modern facilities for BPO operations. In Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, there is room for improvement in general infrastructure like telecoms, electricity, and public transport. And, while respondents widely lauded South Africa’s communications infrastructure, the country’s disastrous record in power supply was a point of contention.

These infrastructure challenges could cause significant issues for BPOs in 2022. Buyers of outsourced services place a high premium on robust communications, reliable electricity, and quality facilities, as indicated by the Ryan Strategic Advisory 2021 Front Office Omnibus Survey.

A final series of interesting results centered around location stability and transparency.

Respondents in Colombia, Bulgaria, and Egypt indicated that each country enjoys public sector support, with limited impact in terms of outside influence or political interference into civil service and law enforcement. However, this wasn’t the case in Central America, Poland, or the Philippines.

Similarly, there was concern regarding public safety and security among respondents from  Nicaragua, Honduras, and South Africa (likely due to the upheaval in Durban and Johannesburg earlier this year). However, respondents view Jamaica, El Salvador, India, and Egypt as politically stable options.

So, what lessons can be drawn from the Offshore BPO Confidence Index 2021?

First, it is essential to consider numerous factors when assessing new BPO destinations, either as a buyer of outsourcing services or as a provider looking to establish overseas operations. This study demonstrates that while a country can show its worth in some regards, there is always the possibility that it may fall short in others.  Thus, having a balanced set of criterion has never been more important when picking a foreign delivery point.

Second, having eyes and ears on the ground counts for a lot when sizing up a new delivery site. Stakeholders in these popular locations tend to overwhelm site selectors and BPO real estate professionals with slick slide presentations and marketing materials. But, at the end of the day, it’s what is happening in the operating environment that truly counts. Thus, having a trusted guide that can provide frank feedback in a location is invaluable.

Moving into 2022, organizations looking to expand their BPO presence or procure new outsourcing partners situated overseas would be well-advised to consider the views of those on the front lines when making location choices.