Like most good ideas, the construct for Liberty Source was simple.
We questioned why business processes couldn't be successfully delivered in the U.S.
As sourcing leaders, we questioned why business processes couldn’t be successfully delivered in the U.S. rather than from offshore locations. With the rising cost of facilities and labor offshore, management disruption, high attrition rates and the strain and cost of many trips overseas, wasn’t there at least some opportunity to retain the work onshore in a cost-competitive delivery model? Or move at least some of the work back? And deliver it through an organization with a quality of service delivery that can compete with those of skilled offshore providers?
There’s no doubt offshore business process service delivery—whether delivered through a business process outsourcing contract or at an in house center—has been successful. And companies looking for a range of benefits—lower cost, rapid standardization, higher productivity, more flexibility—should and will turn to offshore delivery.
But as the model matures, organizations are concurrently evaluating the value proposition—and often asking for both more and less. More– flexibility, better service due to communication skills, cultural awareness and knowledge of the clients’ business, and location diversity. Less—travel overseas, time managing in time zones half way around the world, attrition, worry about data privacy and compliance. As business volatility increases, organizations with years of outsourcing and shared services experience under their belts now understand that the total cost of buying business processes offshore may not be such a bargain after all.
We then asked another question. Where is there a committed workforce in geographic concentrations across the U.S. with high levels of education and high under-or unemployment? A workforce that…
- Has a mission—and a “get it done at all costs” attitude toward service delivery
- Knows how to lean on others to solve a problem
- Understands the purpose and value of following directions, and can be trained up quickly
- Is culturally attuned and knows that the most storied sports rivalries include the Yankees and the Red Sox, and the Packers and the Bears
- Will flourish in a work culture designed to meet their specific needs
- Deserves an opportunity to get on the first step of the career ladder, and the resources to climb
We came up with the over 750,000 strong U.S. military spouse community.
Spouses of men and women in the military don’t have much flexibility to pursue their own careers. They can’t pick up and move to a location where jobs are plentiful. They may move often, contributing to patchy resumes. Jobs in their fields may not be available. Work experience may be limited. Most employers can’t structure a work environment to suit their needs when their spouses are deployed. They may pursue graduate education in lieu of finding a job to end up “overqualified.” Top management may be committed to hiring spouses, but middle management may not have gotten the message.
To get Liberty Source up and running, we structured a Public Benefit Corporation as a subsidiary of noted social impact outsourcing company Digital Divide Data (www.digitaldividedata.org). We did a lot of research on the military spouse and veteran community. We developed delivery methodologies that are commercially smart and viable. We asked the business and government communities to lend their support. We structured a training and development program designed to grow careers. We hired a management team with a track record of business excellence and an understanding of the needs of the military community. We put together a board passionate about delivery excellence and making a difference. We designed hiring processes to identify employees with the right attitude toward client experience and skills mastery. We convinced a leading corporation to entrust us with their critical business processes. And we hired a team committed to our mission—serve our clients.
Liberty Source isn’t going to radically change the dynamic of business process services provision. Companies will—and should—always look for the best alternative for their operations, often tapping into pools of expertise in offshore locations. But what Liberty Source does do is offer organizations portfolio diversity and the first opportunity at scale to deliver work onshore by tapping into a pool of talented, educated, culturally aligned and committed military spouses that have few opportunities to develop careers.