Ericpol: Fast friends – Pawel Szczerkowski
Europe might not be the usual destination for businesses looking to outsource, but cities such as Krakow in Poland have a surprising amount to offer. Not only does its vast student population create a large, high-quality labour supply, but the cultural affinities its people share with Western Europe also satisfy one of the most important components of successful outsourcing: mutual understanding.
"Poland has become the biggest centre for IT and knowledge process outsourcing services in Europe," says Ericpol CEO Pawel Szczerkowski. "People in this country are flexible and self-motivated, taking responsibility for their own actions. This is what gives us such good potential over the Far East."
Trust and transparency
Wherever an outsourcing vendor is based, certain fundamentals apply. One of the most common mistakes made when negotiating a contract is poor communication between vendor and client.
"There are certain things that both sides need to do," Szczerkowski says. "From the vendor's perspective, you need to offer clients security and not overcomplicate things too much. You also need to deliver on expectations.
"Outsourcing is never easy for a business; it's like sending a child to boarding school. On the client side, transparency of business goals is crucial. Each vendor wants to serve its customers better and fulfil their needs, but this can only be done when we understand what our client challenges are and how they approach these problems."
There are various different reasons why a business may wish to outsource something; it may want to increase the capacity of customer organisation, transform its consumer experience or improve price and cost levels. And that means having a mutual understanding of what each respective contract is for.
"We have to ask ourselves, what is the challenge to be solved?" Szczerkowski says. "If both sides understand the motive in the same way, then things will work well."
The outsourcing market is also moving much faster. Ten years ago, projects could take over 24 months to complete, but today's clients want things delivered within a few months or even weeks.
"The key aim is quicker service delivery," Szczerkowski says. "Everything is happening more fluidly - and that favours companies such as ours, which can communicate well, and don't require so many meetings and different layers of documentation."
As customers look for faster action, speed and flexibility in service, delivery will become even more important. And so will the general expectations outsourcers face when striving to improve the performance of their clients' businesses. Quality and cost effectiveness was, is and always will be a base requirement.
Extensive relationship experience
With almost 21 years' experience of delivering outsourcing and general IT services to the European market, Ericpol hopes it can be just the kind of partner that clients need.
The company, which is headquartered in Poland, has in recent years also expanded into Ukraine, Belarus and Sweden, and now has around 1,700 employees producing or selling its services across the telecommunications, enterprise resourcing planning, banking and finance, and medical sectors.
"Companies that are considering outsourcing don't ask how we can take away part of their business process, but how we can help them deliver a better service to their customers."
And that means the outsourcing company is expected to be more innovative; to provide new ideas, products and solutions. The partnership level is getting deeper, more creative and more collaborative.