More effective use of licence fees by significantly reducing back office costs


Essential back office support enables the delivery of greater value to the licence fee-paying public.

Challenge summary

As the world’s largest broadcasting corporation, the BBC’s mission is to enrich people’s lives with programmes and services that inform, educate and entertain, with a vision to be the most creative organisation in the world. By driving value in its back office function, the BBC can invest more in its programming to help achieve this objective.

The broadcaster has to follow strict EU procurement regulations which stipulate that publicly-funded organisations must follow a mandatory re-procurement process for major contracts. This gave the BBC an opportunity to consider all the options for reducing and controlling the costs associated with its F&A function and to achieve continual improvement in the service.

The contract to manage the full range of F&A services was awarded to Sopra Steria after a decade in the hands of EDS subsidiary Medas.

Our solution

We offered the BBC a delivery approach based on integrating offshore and onshore business processes and IT services. This was combined with both knowledge of the media industry and extensive F&A expertise. For the BBC’s first major use of offshore delivery, the broadcaster had a number of specific qualifying criteria that Sopra Steria had to meet. These included an assurance of delivery that was (and remains) crucial to the BBC to support its audience-focused activities for the UK licence fee-payers who fund the organisation.

Cultural fit was another key BBC assessment criteria. As a media organisation the BBC has a unique character combining both the business acumen and creative flair of its diverse workforce. Our own culture promotes creative and innovative thinking combined with a commitment to working as one team with its clients – service delivery excellence with the human touch.

How we worked together

The two companies worked in close partnership during the crucial transition phase from the incumbent provider to Sopra Steria. Our commitment to the partnership approach remains at the centre of today’s successful service delivery.

To assure itself of our ability to meet its strict criteria, the BBC bid team not only visited sites in the UK and overseas, but drew on extensive client references for Sopra Steria’s successful delivery of F&A services, added value and innovative solutions. The broadcaster agreed it could benefit from the shared learnings of our extensive business process outsourcing expertise across diverse industries and the company’s experience of transitioning organisations to new business models.

Value for money

Today Sopra Steria is delivering real value for money across a range of services. These extend from the traditional F&A services such as expenses, payments, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable to the more industry specific processes needed for artists’ and contributor payments. In addition, we are responsible for General Ledger accounting, application management and development and both an IT and an F&A help desk.

Sopra Steria ensures that our helpdesk services are sensitive to the wide variety of callers it deals with on a day-to-day basis, from stationery suppliers to artists’ agents. The BBC uses numerous freelance technicians and artists – including camera crews, independent production companies, actors and makeup artists – as well as supplies from media-specific companies. Very often they are deployed on location where there might be limited access to computers or fax machines. It is vital for the help desk teams to be able to respond quickly and sensitively to calls from these freelance employees and artists – they are, after all, integral to the BBC’s success.

A large proportion of the non-help desk services are being delivered from Sopra Steria’s operations in Chennai, India in an integrated approach that is making use of the company’s F&A locations in the UK for functions such as payroll and the service desks. This integrated delivery model is an essential component of our offer - it acknowledges that no one size fits all. As the BBC’s first major off-shoring deal, this contract had to reassure as well as to deliver on its promise. The balance of offshore-onshore delivery in response to the broadcaster’s demands and stage in its BPO strategy met this need.

Continual improvement and innovation was another of the BBC’s stipulations for this contract.

Richard Payne at the BBC says: “We wanted a partner who did more than simply provide standard F&A services. We are looking for innovation around business processes and shared learning which comes from Sopra Steria’s experience of delivering F&A services to multiple clients.

The BBC and Sopra Steria have entered into a long-term partnership. It is one that is enabling the world’s best known broadcaster to drive value within its support services in order to channel funds into creative output.

Client view

Richard Payne at the BBC comments: “There was naturally some uncertainty about moving processes offshore. It meant ‘letting go’ of tasks that, while previously outsourced, had been performed onshore. Sopra Steria could have placed more of these services offshore, but they demonstrated an ability to offer flexible solutions, both commercially and at an operational level.”