PROESA Summit Must Differentiate El Salvador’s Nearshore Credentials

The upcoming PROESA El Salvador Investment Summit that aims to bring together the best and the brightest involved in American nearshore BPO delivery is one week away, and the anticipation is palpable.  With site selectors, analysts, vendors and enterprise decision-makers set to descend upon San Salvador, the country’s investment promotion professionals are undoubtedly preparing to showcase what has traditionally been one of the most opportunistic CRM delivery points in Central America.  But, with more nearshore geographic competition than at any other time, El Salvador must differentiate itself within the region if it is to remain a logical go-to nearshore delivery center.

There is no question that Central American BPO has come a long way over the past five years, encompassing established delivery points like Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala, as well as emerging locations including Belize and Honduras.  Plus, with Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Guyana coming on strong within the Caribbean, the nearshore has never been more diverse with options for the clients of outsourcers.  This is the context that PROESA faces going into next week’s conference.

El Salvador has long been one of the most recognizable locations in Central American contact centers.  With a government that has been traditionally favorable to BPO, coupled with the population’s strong affinity for US culture and decent fluidity of labor that can speak English, El Salvador’s attributes are clear. The list of companies on the ground bear this out, and include some of the world’s most recognizable names such as Atento, Convergys, Sykes, Teleperformance and Telus International.  This is in addition to burgeoning local players that are disrupting the market, with OneLink BPO among the most notable.  However, with front-line voice and non-voice services evolving toward higher-value functions, there will be heavy pressure the country’s outsourcing stakeholders to remain competitive.

So, what differentiates El Salvador from its regional competitors?  There are several angles that PROESA needs to consider as it ponders this question.  Certainly, new front-office investment is a logical approach, given the country’s legacy in this space.  But, while a proven track record in basic contact center delivery is important, other locations in Central America and the Caribbean are also doing quality work in this domain.  Thus, focusing on the country’s BPO legacy as a foundation to evolve toward higher-value work that recognizes the changes in customer contact preferences and end-user expectations is vital. The issue of sustaining a decent labor capacity will be a point that delegates are also certain to be anxious to discuss.  Given El Salvador’s population of less than seven million, a plan for sustaining educated BPO workers with requisite language skills will be essential.

There are no guarantees in the context of any nearshore or offshore delivery market.  However, El Salvador is among the longest serving locations providing BPO services for clients in the US.  PROESA has succeeded in attracting the attention and goodwill of industry experts and investors; the time is now to highlight the country’s full outsourcing potential.