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E195 | The Importance of Business Continuity with Smartsourcing CEO & founder, Mike Selfe

Think your organisation is too small to outsource processes? Think again, says CEO and founder of Smartsourcing, Mike Selfe. If you feel like your team’s time could be better spent elsewhere then don’t miss Mike explaining how Smartsourcing supports small businesses. 

Founded in 2015, Smartsourcing, a purpose led, business process outsourcing (BPO) organisation based out of Cebu, Philippines, has been growing 100% year on year, with 350 staff now on their books. 

In this insightful episode, Mike discusses how they handle the challenge that significant growth brings, how they tackle recruitment challenges, and what it takes and what it looks like to be awarded Great Place to Work certification.

Finally, he reveals how Smartsourcing has managed business continuity following a natural disaster – just 24 hours after Cebu was devastated by the Typhoon Odette, MIke and a skeleton team were back ‘at work’ the next day.  

So, if you’re looking for a way to maximise your team’s productivity and efficiency, listen today to find out more about how business process outsourcing (BPO) could help your small businesses. 

On today’s podcast:

  • Changing lives for good through BPO
  • Handling the recruitment challenge
  • Weathering the storm
  • The importance of business continuity
  • No business is too small to outsource 


The importance of business continuity with Smartsourcing CEO, Mike Selfe

Ensuring business continuity in the wake of a typhoon isn’t something that we in the UK will likely ever have to deal with, but it was the reality for Mike Selfe, CEO and founder of Smartsourcing, a purpose led, business process outsourcing organisation based out of Cebu, Philippines. 

On the 16th December, 2021, Cebu, Philippines was hit by the third largest tropical storm in its recorded history. About one third of Smartsourcing’s employees were rendered homeless, with half suffering substantial damage to their properties. 

Founded in 2015, Smartsourcing has grown 100% year on year and currently has a workforce of 350 employees. That’s a lot of hotel rooms to find. But find them they did, because that’s the type of organisation Mike founded. 

“We’re a values driven company with a winning culture of togetherness, leadership and continuous improvement. A company that exists to be of service to as many people as we possibly can.”

Changing lives for good

Mike is a big believer in globalisation and that the world needs to work together, as one, to fill a need. And so the purpose of Smartsourcing is to enable that, and in turn change the lives of everyone they touch. 

“We do that for our people by providing the best of workplace conditions. And for our customers, we give them tools for scaling their business like they would have never had access to before.”

One way they improve the lives of their employees is they have a legacy of hiring single mums and giving them a route to a better life, a leg up and the chance to earn good money. 

“We find if you provision in a way that supports social challenges, they can also be your greatest strength. And I think that’s been proven by the fact that our workforce consists of 80% women, a large percentage of those being mums and single mums. And they’re great workers, the best workers.”

Handling the recruitment challenge

Mike is confident that even though Smartsourcing is growing at a rapid rate, they’ll still attract enough of the right sort of people to come and work for them. 

If you build the best brand, he says, you’ll attract the best people. After all, it’s not rocket science – if you deliver a good service to good people, they’ll stay and refer other good people to come and work for you. And this is highlighted by their 50% referral rate. I.e. 50% of their new staff come through employee referral. 

They’ve also optimised Smartsourcing’s hiring and onboarding process such that it now takes just 10 days from a candidate submitting a CV to them being hired (if successful). The application process previously took 28 days. 

How have they reduced their time to hire? 

“Deeper talent pools and refinement in the process for sure. But just strengthening your brand, as in how you look after people, and referrals made it a lot easier to shorten the turnaround. Instead of having to do a campaign and advertise externally to attract the right talent, we’ve got people queuing up at the door.”

Weathering the storm

While most businesses run into difficulties and have to batten down the hatches and weather the storm as best they can, metaphorically, as mentioned in the introduction, Smartsouricng has had to physically weather the storm. 

They navigated COVID only to be hit by Signal Five Super Typhoon Odette. Initially Odette had been classed as a much less severe storm, but by the time it made landfall, it was the third biggest storm to hit Cebu since records began. 

“We pretty much had to repurpose our management team to go from leaders of operations or customer experience, to water supply or relief goods, or [get] diesel for the vehicles and to mobilise our search parties. We had someone in charge of just stocking up on stockpiling cash because there was no power anywhere in the city.”

Smartsourcing has subsequently partnered up with charitable enterprise – Habitat for Humanity, to repair the homes of victims of the typhoon, and help them rebuild their lives. 

Business continuity

Most organisations outsource processes to help with business continuity, but when you’re the organisation that provides that service, how did it happen for them?

“On a skeletal workforce, we were operational the next day. But that was not without its challenges. [We had] incredible resilience and loyalty and support from the staff.”

On the customer facing side of things, it was business as usual within the first week, which is incredible. But underneath they were dealing with social issues, post traumatic stress, and the general wellbeing of their people.

No business is too small to outsource 

When people tend to think about outsourcing or offshoring, or business process outsourcing, they typically assume it’s the preserve of larger companies. But in Smartsourcing’s case, their clients are small businesses, organisations that don’t have their processes written down, because they don’t need to yet. 

“Smartsourcing is a large enterprise outsourcing for SMEs, our passion is SMEs, we want to work with businesses that want to scale, that see an opportunity for themselves to grow. And in a more economical and scalable way.”

So how does Smartsourcing handle processes that aren’t, well, official processes yet? 

“We have a discovery team, [so] that if you don’t have all your processes mapped and documented, then we’ll do that for you. And the reason we do that is because we have a Smartsourcing way that works with a 100% success rate.”

What type of tasks do people outsource? 

“I think as a best practice approach, we start very much working lower on the skills ladder. And as the trust develops, what you see is that actually these guys are a lot more capable than just giving them the low skilled level tasks.”

Smartsourcing handles everything from admin through to accountants, photo editing, even tech support SaaS software providers. 

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