February 16, 2018
Sharon Melamed – Start Small and Grow: Outsourcing for Small Businesses
February 16, 2018
In this episode, Derek is joined by Sharon Melamed once again, an outsourcing expert who has worked in the outsourcing industry for 25 years. She runs a company called Matchboard which is effectively a matchmaking service of outsourcing. Join Derek as he deep dive into Sharon’s thoughts about outsourcing and the future of outsourcing.
- Sharon has been in the outsourcing industry for 25 years and she has worked all around the world in five countries.
- She started Matchboard 5 years ago which is a matching platform for the outsourcing industry.
- Sharon shared her perspective in terms of the different sale cycle.
- She also shares the concept of Matchboard and how it works with the clients.
- Sharon narrates her direct experience with the Philippines and her thoughts for the Philippines going in terms of the outsourcing provision.
- Matchboard is a matching platform where a company can tell its needs for outsourcing, and a matching algorithm will find a short list of perfect match outsources to help with that particular business need.
- The Philippines is far ahead in terms of outsourcing, typically the number one choice for offshore employment.
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. My name is Derek Gallimore and today this is episode number 118, we are joined by Sharon Melamed of matchboard.com.au. It is a matchmaking service for outsourcing service provider so that SMEs and companies generally can get in touch with the right outsourcing provider for them so it’s interesting to talk to Sharon, we introduced Sharon within podcast so I won’t dive too much into that. We did speak to Sharon earlier in episode 113. If you want to know more about Sharon’s corporate and professional background in outsourcing, then do go and listen to that one but I’m sure you will enjoy this episode independently and if you want any of the information or show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/118. Enjoy.
Derek: So Hi everybody and welcome back, today again I’m lucky to be joined by Sharon Melamed. Hi, Sharon.
Sharon: Hi, Derek, how are you?
Derek: Great. Thank you, and today Sharon your of a BPO matching company which of course I’ll get you to introduce. It is called Matchboard and today we’ve got you back to deep dive into exactly what Matchboard is not because this is an infomercial but because I think it is really interesting and important from everyone out there to know what services there at in outsourcing but also the auxiliary services connected to outsourcing. I’m super happy to have you here. We did, of course, chat you a couple of episodes to go so if anyone wants to hear more of your backstory then go listen to that. Sharon, suppose they haven’t listened to that can you please give a quick introduction of yourself and how you found yourself with Matchboard.
Sharon: Absolutely, well I’ve been in the outsourcing industry for 25 years and I’ve worked all around the world in five countries. I speak 5 languages and really got that global effective but after working for BPO in sales and marketing form 20 years, I started Matchboard 5 years ago which is really a matching platform for the outsourcing industry making it quite unique in the world.
Derek: Fantastic. So you would be dealing in the kind of a big end of the market for the first 20 years, is that right? Like big corporates and…
Sharon: Yeah, look I did see it evolved so while outsourcing really started as the strategy that was truly available to the big corporations. Over time, I saw the medium size company creepy and then the small business, thanks to the BPO and all the vendors in the market who made all that possible which is exciting save I think for small businesses to tap into it as a growth strategy.
Derek: Can you give us some perspective in terms of the different sale cycle because I try to encourage as many SMEs into outsourcing as possible. I think that the saving grace with this business model is that the sales cycle is a huge amount, quicker and shorter for SMEs they can move quicker and how was that compare to the sales cycle of the big conglomerates, are they tend to process a lot of bureaucracy. Do you see that the SME market is a lot more nimble?
Sharon: Typically, the business can make a decision at through meetings and site visits and based on proposals and not have to deal with the hundred page, RST, and documents that a large company would go through. They would have one person making the decision at the end of the day, this is a whole team out of a big company so I think that is the advantage of small businesses and they can move faster and that’s what outsourcing really is that ability to be agile so it’s a great compliment small businesses love to move fast and that’s exactly how outsourcing works. `Ramping up and down in line with changing business needs so that flexibility is a huge benefit to small businesses.
Derek: It seems a match made in heaven isn’t it to borrow your name but because historically and you can shed your experience on this. Historically, the service provider for SMEs within outsourcing just didn’t exist. You probably couldn’t have engaged with the BPO service provider more than 10 years would you kind of agree with that and so is it a failure recent development where you can take one seat and you can give it a go relatively low exposure, low risk?
Sharon: Yeah, that’s it. And I think for a lot of small businesses it’s the case of really dipping your toes in the water before so moving the whole house across. So for example, small business might start with just an assistant to their business offshore doing all the admin task, but they might extend to the accounting function or digital marketing and before you know it, there’s more people offshore in the company than in the head office in Australia or in the US or wherever it is. I guess starts small and grow, it really the matter of the small businesses going offshore.
Derek: And so you offer a, do you want to deep dive into Matchboard and tell us exactly the secret sauce in there. It is the basic concept is matching people’s needs with a commencer service provider.
Sharon: That’s exactly right. So, the problem we wanted to solve was that typically when a small business is looking to outsource, they’ll hop into google and they will type in a few keywords and they’ll get hundreds and thousands of options back and whose to know which company is a good, bad, a fit, interested even in certain volumes that small business might have so it just becomes a bit overwhelming to sort of look on the screen and see options and not know where to start. So that’s the problem I want to solve, is to take away those search engine glue, and provide a much faster more accurate way to people to link with the perfect match offshore. So what the matching platform is, think of it as online dating but for the outsourcing world where you can enter up to 10 filters so you might enter this budget, this type of work and this is my timeline, this is the location I’m interested in. I need XY industry experience and literally, you would take between 1 and 2 minutes to complete this entire of a guided questionnaire. So with literally a minute of investment of your time, you can then instantly get back a short list of companies that meet every one of your criteria, your perfect match if you would like, and we would connect you with them.
We then drop a picture at and it’s up to you to sort of workout to 3 or 4 set of choice, we’ll put forward which one is gonna be the best for you. That’s the direct relationship with then have outsourcers we interviewed. But one of our big value proposition is that we don’t work with any outsourcer that comes along. There are dodgy players out there like in any industry, so what we do is, we pick every company to get clients with the amount online and we make sure that they’re gonna provide a good service to our clients and net bases we are happy to attach our brand and make an introduction.
Derek: Right. if we sort of reverse engineer the criteria a little bit then, what do you see as major determinants of peoples sort of outsourcing requirements? Does it typically ball down to they have a price budget or it’s typically skilled specialties and you know, so then I supposed from that do you genuinely recommend jammers BPO, do genuinely recommend seat leases. What sort of magic sauce in terms of making a business happy with outsourcing decision?
Sharon: Yes, absolutely. Well, we try and match not only with a sort of best match on paper type options but the company so that gonna have their lowest risk of failing without going upset part of that as mentioned is actually putting outsourcers that has someone from the ground so that de-risk the process when our client in small business whether they are in Australia, the UK or the US. They can actually go and meet the salesperson in their own country who can walk them through what’s involve taken into the proposal, make sure they understand everything and potentially even out to the Philippines to do a site visits so, that is the first part of it that we believe strongly that the best options are not only the best options in terms of delivery of the service in the Philippines but also the ones that can pack it up with some sales or account management in the home country that is a huge amount of security of comfort to the client. So that’s on top of the notch to the BPOs actually offer that except the overwhelming preference that we have seen in the market.
Derek: That’s an interesting theorist isn’t it? because it’s and as you said it’s relatively uncommon for the size of the industry but it’s probably a really good leading indicator of the size, I supposed the infrastructure their commitment to the country wherever the client is seating it has quite a lot of far-reaching implications isn’t it?
Sharon: Yes, absolutely. And there may be more than you think is in Australia alone there are more than 20 Philippines BPO that have a sales person or an account manager of those on the ground, it may only be one person but it has given the edge so we have to have a way narrowing down the sales because it’s literally thousands of options otherwise and so that’s one way we find matching. Apart from that, a lot of company have very small requirements they would expect in a sea of large client with some of the big general careers so we do quite to match that so that our clients are our priority, at the bottom of this to see one person and yet the typical clients might be 50 people so that’s typically not a good match either. We won’t find a company that actually are hungry for the business of these small businesses and more than happy to service them and best setup there reporting their account management frameworks to accommodate the small business.
Derek: And in terms of the geography then, are you predominantly focusing on the Philippine outsourcing market or do you sort of see the bigger markets like India or emerging markets like Eastern Europe as valid and also then your client facing function where you practicing from?
Sharon: Location that must speak if there was a country that provides a better option in the Philippines with fully recommended. But in most cases the small businesses typically for the US market. The Philippines wants to have the best offering, so that’s not to say that we would never recommend other countries, we have recommended India, New Zealand, South Africa, Fiji to name a few. But they all have the strength and weaknesses. As this small business ended the market, the Philippines than just so far ahead in the way that they cater to those small business needs that it is typically, not always, but typically the number one choice.
Derek: Right. It is fascinating. Do you have personally had, you obviously had as you mentioned 20, 25 years experience in this field but what is your direct experience with the Philippines and where do you see the Philippines going in terms of the outsourcing provision?
Sharon: I think everyone in the BPO industry has started to read in strategy even the advancement in technology ordination, AI, all those passwords which they have identified as a threat to their business because so many working processes can be done through software, through robots and it’s only gonna increase not decrease but I think where the industry can really develop is to embrace these trends and to offer clients the best of the best world. So blended workforces not only offshore but also robots they manage so that total solution that’s where I think we’re going. Just major things in terms of the typical small business owners need at the early stage may not be at the point of wanting a sophisticated solution looking at a crystal ball 5 years down the track, 10 years down the track. I think that’s more and more what it’ll be. I’ve been to the operation where you have a team leader with 10 staffs to 10 workstations and there is 11 station which is actually a robot, and it is sitting there doing all these things at 8 or 10 times speed of a human beeping the knots around cropping and pasting and all that. I think that’s the future.
Derek: It sending a sort of waves of concern through the Philippines, isn’t it? Suddenly for those higher more repetitive jobs and I’m really hoping that the Philippines keeps a rest of this and increases the value-adding, increases the more highly skilled roles and functions, it is kinda sending a shockwave of concerns isn’t it true?
Sharon: The customer is a value of chain, yeah, I understand it but another thing is that voice or telephone with customers may be declining. Social media is flourishing, in-app messaging with customer is booming and so there’s only down that channels through which company can communicate with customers not only in a reactive way, managing inquiry but also proactive customer engagements so using those phasing that you get from offshore and plugging them back in to the customer experience and doing outreach to your customers to grow your share of wallet to across, to make sure your customer is happy so there’s a lot of ways you could plug those savings back in to then grow your business, not just about saving money without growing your business.
Derek: Yeah, that’s a good point, actually. Because customer service, there will always be a need for customer service and as you say proactive customer service. I think still going to be very long time before these chat boxes really take over genuine customer service, because it is still super, super early days, isn’t it? I still think that there’s a generally a preference for people to be dealing with people and potentials I mean do you agree? I think it’s almost SMEs are commonly earlier doctors of things but I think it will be the bigger conglomerates that really automate things first because they have such big process is that can be automated whereas SMEs they have to be more generalist, more nimble so it might be kind of the next generation that really getting to high automation.
Sharon: Yeah, I think you are right, It tends to start at the top end of the market and work its way down to which is great for small businesses coz by the time it gets to there everything those moves up because as you mentioned chatbots absolutely improving its accuracy and quite quickly, there’s still not a 100% accurate by any means and in many cases start with the chat box conversation with a customer online will end up being the one hand complete the transaction so it can only go so far right now, I think with the SMEs it will be a case of what’s your space, start off with your routine roles and simple stuff and your small pockets of different skill sets and as your business grows you can work with your partner who you’ve already identified is the sort of partner you want to build you into an empire, it’s possible but you’ve actually in this case how can we did it more efficiently using technology as we grow so that’s sort of things that we’ll be looking for long term.
Derek: Fantastic, and that’s exactly what you can do now isn’t it because you’re not just getting a staffing solutions, you’re actually buying into the 15,20, 25 years executive experience of these BPO service provider offers so they’re actually expert in the field of improving processes aren’t they so there’s a huge amount of upside down for people that are keen to dip their toe into it.
Sharon: Yeah, that’s right. That’s a management infrastructure, it’s with technology infrastructure you know you’re dipping into the rich technology options that would previously accessible to large businesses but because the BPO invested with them you can tap into 1, 2, 3 options already that the large businesses were able to pay you with previously so you constructed their advantages.
Derek: Absolutely. So, Sharon, I’d love to get you back so we can actually talk a little bit more about the future of outsourcing because you seem to have huge amount of insight there but in the meantime, thank you so much for your insight into Matchboard and if anyone wants to get in touch with you, how can they do that?
Sharon: Sure, I’d love to hear from your listeners. You can visit matchbox.com.au to check out our website if you have any outsourcing needs and you can also connect with me on Linkedin, Sharon Melamed and I will absolutely be delighted to connect with any of the listeners today.
Derek: Fantastic. Thank you, Sharon, and of course, that will all be in the show notes and we look forward on speaking to you in the near future.
Sharon: Thank you so much, Derek. Pleasure
Derek: That was Sharon Melamed of matchboard.com.au. If you want to know any of the information or show notes, then go to our website at outsourceaccelerator.com/118 for this episode, and of course, if you want to ask us anything, anything at all, just drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. See you next time.