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Sep 14, 2008

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In selecting a BPO location inside the European Union and in India, its useful to first segregate the City-level metrics from the Country(EU)/State(India)-level metrics and then quantify relative-importance of each metric vis-a-vis others, specific to your unique need.

Country(EU)/State(India) Metrics - BPO/SSC Set-Up time; Visa/ Work Permit Requirements; Subsidies/Government Incentives; Labour Laws; Tax & Accounting Laws; Political stability

City Metrics - People (Labor Pool size / Education - Graduate skills/ Location attractiveness for Senior Foreign Hires/ Understanding of US & Western European cultures/Languages) ; Infrastructure (Real Estate, Telecom, Light/Heat/Water etc) ; BPO/SSC Competition; Travel links with key Client sites

You will note that there is little to choose (from a BPO perspective) through a country-level comparison between CEE countries. Poland, Czech Rep, Romania, Bulgaria etc. - all present EU stability, consistent ex-communist educational systems, progressive labor/tax/accounting norms more aligned to Brussels roadmaps than Old EU countries, Spirited govt. investment cells etc

Eventually, the one-on-one negotiated govt. subsidy/incentives (thru PaIiz in Poland, CzechInvest in czech rep, SARIO in Solvakia etc) for job creation, is the salient country-level metric for BPO new entrants.

Other-wise, its best to focus on City-Metrics to develop a meaningful point of view on a BPO location inside the EU. For eg., if you seek to set-up a 500 seats+ BPO venture in the location you select then, its best to validate break-even point for the handful of cities with 300K+ population.

In my experience within the EU (just as in India), its most useful to do location selection focused on city-metrics and a comparison between 3 Economic (Comparable cost-of-living) Groups of Cities. For eg -

a) Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, Bucharest, Bratislava

b) Lodz, Wroclaw, Brno, Ostrava, Cluj etc

c) Various Sub-150,000 population towns

Poland & most other CEE present several interesting BPO locations even today. Just as in other industries, the BPO industry too will eventually progress towards a "stateless multinational mindset" ( Refer - http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=12263150 ).

One should mostly trust the NUMBERS of one's business model, in BPO location selection, within the EU. Inputs to the model are mostly at a city-level.

Comments on a Nation as a BPO location in Europe, still invite a lot of nationalistic demagoguery. As philosopher AC Grayling reminds us - " Nationalism is an evil. It causes unncessary wars, its roots lie in xenophobia and racism, it is a recent phenomenon - an invention of the last few centuries. The word - "nation" - is meaningless: all nations are mongrel, a mixture of so many immigrations and mixings of people over time that the idea of ethinicity is largely comical. "

Its fairly common these days to find nations present themselves aggressively (thru their investment cells like Paiiz, czechinvest, sario etc) at BPO conferences in the CEE region. A new & meaningless war of words has been underway for the past 5 years. We need to rise to a stateless multinational mindset.

I agree with Ewa and that is why it is essential that anyone looking at Poland for plain vanilla BPO or IT work should think twice - increasing salaries, higher attrition and currency volatility - all put together mean that you should look at Poland for specialised work

Hello,

as a person living in PL for over 30 yrs and as a person professionally involved in IT services market research, i'm happy to read such a flattering text about poland. yet, i need to say that the reality happens to be less optimistic and some recent changes like increasing salary expectations and decreasing number of ppl willing to get employed in bpo centers in certain cities, which have been a popular destination for such centers (krakow, wroclaw being best examples) may make future investors more careful while choosing the best place to locate a bpo center.
rgds

A lot of the info here echoes the experience of one of my clients, which has been slowly building up a captive presence there. They are generally very satisfied with the quality they are getting, and hoping to move more work there, BUT (there's always a but), their efforts have been stalled by the dollar's free fall and the ability to recruit fast enough to move as much as possible over from other European sites.

Some additional facts on Poland:

It has a Competitive cost base offers significant location benefits

According to the Ernst & Young report,
Poland achieved first place in Europe in terms of availability of industrial sites, cost of land and regulations.

In terms of flexibility of employment regulations Poland is placed second after UK and third in terms of corporate taxation.

Bigger than all other 9 New EU members put together (2004 – excludes Romania and Bulgaria which joined EU in 2007).

Only country in Eastern Europe with expansion potential beyond a single city (Prague in Czech Republic; Budapest in Hungary etc.).

Over 90 billion euro available for development, infrastructure and human capital.

Poland benefits from the largest amount of EU funds of any beneficiary EU member state. Over 90 billion euro is available for development, infrastructure and human capital for 2007 -2013

Over 6 million attending higher educational institutions

About 211,000 students graduate in social sciences, business and law, 43,000 in engineering, 22,000 in science, mathematics and computing and 2,500 in language arts

Nationwide network of 427 centers of higher education

Currently poland hosts leading global companies in IT and BPO:
Accenture, IBM, Cap Gemini, ACS Captive Centers of UBS, State Street, Philip Morris, Shell, Lufthansa, HSBC.

John Vasili

Sanjay,

Let's just say our mystery vendor operations executive pereferred to remain anomymous, but is in a great position to judge...

PF.

Phil,

This is a great posting - thanks for sharing. I like the comparison with Israel, as Poland clearly has far greater potential than merely being an administrative BPO location.

Which provider does the author work for?

Sanjay Ramesh

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