Business process outsourcing, or BPO, is a business practice in which one organization hires another company to perform a task (i.e., process) that the hiring organization requires for its own business to successfully operate.
BPO has its roots in the manufacturing industry, with manufacturers hiring other companies to handle specific processes, such as parts of their supply chains, that were unrelated to the core competencies required to make their end products.
However, organizations in other industries adopted the practice through the years. Now, the use of BPO has expanded so much that organizations of all kinds — for-profit businesses, nonprofits, and even government offices and agencies — contract with BPO service providers in the United States, throughout North America and across the world to perform numerous processes.
According to the BPO Services Global Industry Almanac 2013-2022 released in May 2018, the overall BPO Services sector generated revenues of $144.9 billion in 2017.
Offshore outsourcing, or just offshoring, occurs when an organization contracts for services provided with a company in a foreign country.
Onshore outsourcing, or domestic outsourcing, happens when an organization contracts for services provided by a company that operates in the same country as the hiring organization.
Nearshore outsourcing is when an organization contracts for services provided by companies based in neighboring countries.
Business process outsourcing is also sometimes referred to as information technology-enabled services, or ITES — a name that recognizes that IT infrastructure enables outsourcing to happen.
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