If you're considering business process outsourcing, here are tips from the experts.* Determine your core competencies. What is your competitive advantage in the marketplace? What sells policies? What brings in revenue? Consider outsourcing noncore and routine functions.

* Remember: It's a partnership. Both parties have to be committed to making outsourcing work. It requires open communication, flexibility and trust. Your company's success hinges on your provider's success. If either party loses, both parties lose.

* Keep your hands on. Outsource to gain efficiencies, not to get rid of a problem. It's still your business, so you have to manage the relationship and and monitor service delivery with regular meetings.

* It's still important. Just because a function is outsourced doesn't mean its not important. It just means somebody else can do it better and more cost-effectively.

* Agree on expectations upfront. Make sure the contract defines service level agreements , key performance indicators, whether or not you have access to data, and ramifications if the provider doesn't meet goals.

* Consider transformational outsourcing. Technology upgrades and process redesign can be included in some BPO arrangements. But determine cost savings before you structure the agreement-so they can be factored in fairly.

* Establish an exit strategy. Define a clear and practical exit strategy that is fair to both parties. Consider outsourcing some of the work with a backup provider.

Note: This information is a compilation of advice from sources cited in this article.

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