Hr Manager@country Inn & Suites By Carlson,
Portfolio Management

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Experts point out that continued high growth in an industry can be an issue because it strains systems and governance processes that need time to mature and to be institutionalized. Indian BPO industry is currently facing the challenges arising out of its stupendous growth. Can it successfully tackle these problems and emerge a winner?

The IT enabled services (ITES)[1] and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)[2] constitute the fastest growing industry in India. BPO industry is considered to be a part of the ITES industry. The Indian ITES sector is expected to generate nearly 2 mn jobs in the country in the next few years. The revenues from this industry, which stood at $1.4 bn in 2002 are expected to rise sharply to $24 bn by 2008 according to a Nasscom-McKinsey report.

It's hot .....

Today, India is the hottest destination for any company which wants to outsource its business processes. But what can be the reason for India being so popular with the companies worldwide? The attractiveness of India can be contributed to three basic factors - Cost, People and Environment. India ranks first among a host of desirable nations in terms of cost (which includes employee cost, infrastructure cost, management cost and the tax structure). It beats all its competitors on the people front as well. The people factor is evaluated on the lines of size of the job market, workforce education level, language barriers, past outsourcing experience and employee retention. When it comes to environment (which includes country risk, infrastructure, cultural compatibility, proximity etc.) however, India lags behind countries like Canada, Australia and Ireland.

This is also being taken care of by government initiatives like the corporate tax exemption to all ITES companies till 2010. Apart from these, the fact that India has 53 of the 83 SEI CMM Level 5 companies[3] and that companies outsourcing to India have experienced cost savings in the range of 30% in the first year itself, have added to the attractiveness of India as 'the' destination for outsourcing. Given the strengths of India, it is no wonder that it is the first choice of nearly 82 % companies in the US for outsourcing.

The scenario however, is not as rosy as it looks, for this sector with enormous potential. Like any other industry during its growth phase, this industry is also going through its share of turbulence. The fact that the growth has been very sharp has added to its problems. However, all these ups and downs would help the industry in stabilizing and maturing. At least that's what experts and past experiences say.

The challenges of growth....

The major challenges being faced by the ITES or BPO industry in India can be classified into internal and external challenges. The internal challenges include shortage of competent managers for the middle and senior management and the high attrition rates. The external challenge is in the form of opposition from the US politicians and the UK labor unions against shifting of the BPO operations by local companies to India. The threat of real competition from other players like Philippines also exists, but doesn't seem to need our immediate attention. Let us look at some of these issues.

A speaker at the ITES-BPO Track at Nasscom 2003 commented that it is not ITES, but HRES. That succinctly explains the importance and value attached to the 'people' aspect in this service industry. The fact that this industry is still in its nascent stage in India has led to the dearth of experienced middle management level team leaders and senior managers. Nasscom President Kiran Karnik agrees that shortage of middle and senior level managers is in fact a critical issue. Entry-level recruitment and employment has not been a problem with so many fresh graduates with good language skills, available readily in the job market.

The problem is more intense for the third-party outsourcing companies which have just ventured into this business. They cannot even invest in training, given their financial and other constraints. Captive BPOs like GE and American Express, which are established players in the business, have no such problems. They in fact invest substantially in training their managers. However, they have been facing a problem of a different kind. Their middle and senior level managers are being poached by the new entrants to the industry. Reports say that large and established players face an attrition rate of 45% against the industry average of 35%. Everyone agrees that hiring from competition is a cyclical process and will not help the industry grow, but with very few options available, they resort to the easiest solution - poaching.

That brings us to the next issue - high attrition rates. Attrition means not only loss of talent, but also includes the cost of training the new recruits. The attrition rate in the industry has been hovering around 35%, which is quite high for any industry. An average Indian call center employee works with a company for 11 months, where as an average UK call center employee stays in a company for 3 years. It is expected that the attrition rates would come down once the growth stabilizes. Steep growth is one of the reasons for the high attrition rates, according to many in the industry.

According to a survey by People-One Consulting, an employee's leaving the organization happens typically in the first couple of weeks of joining. The reasons are many -- high stress levels, monotonous nature of the job, demand-supply disparity and lack of career growth potential on the professional front; loss of identity, mismatch with normal cycle, complete change of life style and lack of comfort on the personal front. Add to this, the 'poaching' strategy being adopted by the players in the industry. What else can we expect, but an attrition rate of 35%?
23rd September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
Tackling the attrition problem...

The industry players are trying out all the tricks in the book to tie down their employees and keep them locked in a safe.

They have been offering excellent infrastructure facilities in the form of ergonomically designed work stations and spacious, air-conditioned offices. They have been offering industry specific benefits like 24/7 cafeterias and home pick-up and drop facilities apart from regular benefits like retirals and loans at low interest rates. They have been arranging special weekend parties and offering incentives like tickets to exclusive music shows and dance parties. Some players are also sponsoring the higher education of their employees. This is one of the best ways of retaining a skilled employee for 2-3 years with a company. All this really goes well with a typical employee, who is in his early twenties, fresh out of college and unmarried.The industry has been quite benevolent on the compensation front as well. According to a Hewitt Associates survey conducted last year, the highest salary increase in the Asia Pacific region was in India.

Within the country, it was the ITES industry which recorded the highest growth of 14%. The variable pay component varied in the range of 15-70%, which is exhorbitant, to say the least.

All these measures are at the organizational level. At the industry level, companies have tried to get into informal agreements with competitors to avoid poaching. Though these agreements have no legal sanctity, they are based on mutual faith of the companies. For example, GE, HSBC, Nipuna, Microsoft, etc. informally agreed that they would not recruit someone who has worked for less than a year with his employer or someone who has switched 3 jobs in 2 years. Similarly, Tracmail, Infowavz, Transworks, Epicenter and Global Telesystems have all entered into an informal understanding to arrest poaching.

In spite of all these measures, the attrition rates have remained high. All these attempts by the employers have resulted in only partial success. What should companies do to curb this unhealthy trend? Experts feel that appropriate staffing strategies and managing employee morale are the key areas. Recruiting the right kind of people not only at the entry level but also for the middle management level can be a big contributing factor. Any fresh graduate in need of a job would say that working during odd hours and adapting to a new life style is not a problem, but when it actually comes to adapting to a completely different way of life, they find it difficult to reorient themselves. Adequate care should be taken in choosing and employing candidates in the entry level positions. Companies should also be willing to invest in training employees to take up higher responsibilities as team leads and managers. A strong middle and senior management helps in arresting attrition at the lower levels and consolidates the organizational culture and character.

Another important area of concern is the limited growth potential for an employee in this industry. Organizations should concentrate on individual career growth of employees and succession planning in the organization. Planning for growth both vertically and horizontally can bring a little reprieve to the employees. Horizontal growth can be in the form of promoting the employee from simple to more complex processes within the organization. This will enhance the learning of the employee and make him "feel-good".

The 'International' issue

The latest addition to the basket of woes of the BPO players is the hue & cry on outsourcing to India by the labor unions in the UK and the politicians in the USA. In the UK, the call center industry employs nearly 800,000 British workers and is a vital part of their economy. Labor unions are playing the card of 'patriotism' to stop UK based companies from outsourcing their back-office operations to India. The fact that it is election time in the USA and perhaps in the UK too, has added fuel to the fire. The media, the unions and the politicians in these countries have jumped on the 'backlash' bandwagon and have been making strong statements on outsourcing to India. However, there have been some rational-thinking bigwigs who have been opposing this backlash. The issue is expected to cool down slowly, with the elections getting over and better business sense prevailing over the outsourcing companies. The Indian BPO industry can also launch a friendly and soft campaign against the backlash, explaining the advantages of outsourcing, especially to India.

The threat of competition

Many competitors like Philippines, Ireland and even China are expected to catch up with India in the future, but they have their own constraints. China, which is being forecasted by some as the biggest threat to the Indian BPO industry, for example does not have English-speaking populace who can meet the requirements of a primarily English clientele. India outruns all its competitors when it comes to availability of quality services at the lowest possible rates. However, this does not mean that the Indian BPO industry can sit back and relax. It needs to gear up and prepare itself to face the competition. The strategy of the Indian industry should be to go up the value chain and offer more specialized services that can create a special position for it in the global outsourcing industry. It should not completely bank on the low-end services as they are cost-based and can be transferred to any country that offers the same services at a cheaper rate.

To conclude...

The Indian ITES industry should consolidate its position in the business of outsourcing by strengthening its domain knowledge and becoming more specialized in terms of the services offered. It should aim to go up the value chain without restricting itself to low-skilled jobs. It has to continuously strive to maintain its position of competitive advantage over other countries in the fray, in terms of low costs, quality people and conducive environment. It should also realize that unhealthy practices within the Indian industry can affect its competitiveness in the global BPO arena and therefore curb such practices. With the international business world eyeing India as a hot ITES destination and the Indian industry gearing up to bring in a new revolution, India is bound to become the BPO and ITES hub of the world.
23rd September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
Amidst Other Challenges, Hewitt's HR BPO Head Resigns
Hewitt announced it will "review" its third-quarter guidance as it struggles for profits -- a common problem in the emerging industry. Pioneering in an emerging industry requires "some pain," says one expert.

By Andrew R. McIlvaine

Hewitt Associates is the 800-pound gorilla of the HR business-process outsourcing market.

The firm holds more than 37 percent of the HR BPO market and has more big-name clients (30 or so large companies, including Sun Microsystems and PepsiCo) than any other vendor in the industry.

However, the recent resignation of Bryan J. Doyle, president of Hewitt's HR outsourcing business -- along with the simultaneous retirement announcement of chairman and CEO Dale L. Gifford and Hewitt's statement that it plans to "review" its third quarter profit guidance -- has brought new attention to the company's operations.

It also has underlined the difficulties Hewitt is having as it struggles to earn a profit in what is still a controversial new industry, one in which most of the major vendors have yet to turn a profit.

"Their earnings calls have been dominated by their HR BPO business, which has been bleeding money," says Yankee Group analyst Jason Corsello.

"Hewitt has continued to win new business since it acquired [HR BPO vendor] Exult in 2004; it doesn't have a sales problem," Corsello says. "However, implementing and managing a BPO contract is very complex and Hewitt has really struggled with it. Many of the HR BPO contracts it inherited [from its 2004 acquisition of Exult] have not borne fruit in terms of scalability or operating efficiencies."

Though it's possible Gifford's retirement could be linked to problems with Hewitt's HR BPO unit, says Corsello, he says he's "not reading too much into it."

However, consultant Naomi Bloom, of Bloom & Wallace in Fort Myers, Fla., says she believes Gifford was "forced out" because of problems with Hewitt's BPO business. "He wasn't delivering," she says. "HR BPO is a business that could be successful, but Hewitt hasn't had the right leadership in place. They inherited an outstanding sales team when they acquired Exult, but those people have all left."

Hewitt expects its HR BPO business to lose $128 million this year, says Hewitt investor-relations spokeswoman Genny Pennise. The Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company, which also provides benefits consulting and administration services to clients, had total revenues of $2.8 billion for fiscal 2005 and net income of $135 million.

Phil Fersht of Everest Group says Hewitt's problems are the result of "trying to solve too many operational difficulties at the same time" and the outcome is that "many HR BPO vendors are shifting more of their resources from marketing to operations."

Julie Gordon, Hewitt's chief business excellence officer, will serve as temporary head of the company's HR BPO business while it searches for a permanent replacement. The company denies Gifford's retirement is linked in any way to the HR BPO unit's performance.

"Dale Gifford has been thinking about retirement for some time and he recently told the board of directors that now would be a good time to retire," says Hewitt spokeswoman Kelly Zitlow. "As for Bryan, he's resigned to pursue other opportunities, and I'm not going to speculate beyond that."

Hewitt is not alone in finding the road to profitability difficult.

Few if any HR BPO vendors are making money at this point, says Corsello, adding that Cincinnati-based Convergys is also losing money, while IBM, Accenture, EDS and other companies that provide HR BPO services have not released numbers around their services.

Hewitt's difficulties are compounded by the fact that the HR BPO industry (in which companies outsource four or more of their HR functions to a single vendor) is still relatively new and most of the large contracts have yet to mature, he says.

"I'd say profitability is pretty uncommon among the firms providing HR BPO services today," says Stan Lepeak, managing director of EquaTerra, an outsourcing advisory firm in New York. "There's a camp of equity analysts who wonder if HR BPO can ever be profitable. If Hewitt -- one of the most respected companies in the HR business -- can't make money at this, the thinking goes, then who can?"

Bloom says the answer to the question of whether HR BPO can ever be profitable is a "resounding yes," adding that she believes several vendors have (or soon will) achieved "fragile profitability."

"It's hard work, not to mention expensive, to be a pioneer in an emerging industry, and that's what HR BPO is," she says. "There've been a whole host of issues the industry has had to address, ranging from massive investments that had to be made to services that weren't priced correctly, software that had to be created and the question of what role customers should play. Look at -- it's an established player now but they had to suffer through years and years of losses. You don't get to an upside without some pain."

Lepeak says he anticipates Hewitt will most likely restate the number of HR BPO clients it expects to sign this year, adding that the company had initially predicted it would sign eight to 10 new clients in 2006. Hewitt has not publicly announced any new HR BPO clients so far this year.

Hewitt's challenges include the fact that it aggressively courts large clients, which, in turn, necessitates long and complex transitions from the clients' systems and processes to Hewitt's, says Lepeak.

"It's usually a couple of years into such a contract before the client and the vendor finally start to achieve the results they'd anticipated," he says. "This is complicated by the fact that customers tend to have higher expectations of Hewitt in terms of service delivery, which tends to lead to higher costs."

Hewitt still has plenty of opportunities to make its HR BPO business profitable, he says.

"Hewitt is putting processes into place to make sure new HR BPO deals are economically sound, although the results won't be obvious until two or three years down the line," says Lepeak. "Deals are being more carefully vetted by top managers, whereas before, like many other vendors, they had their field teams structuring deals, which was good for the clients but not so good for the providers."

Bloom is skeptical about Hewitt's prospects, however.

"One hopes that their board either has a big plan for either creating an A-plus leadership team or else selling off the BPO business before it loses even more value."
23rd September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
What afflicts BPOs in India ?
Top 6 things which are greater challenges for the ITeS segment are :
1. US economy slowing down - particularly the Banking and Insurance segments
2. Lack of Incentives from the Government - sunset cluase for STPI units
3. Failure to attract and retain top talent at all levels - Executive, Middle and Senior Management
4. Bad media publicity - always showing the ill affects of working
5. Failure by the Companies to project 'careers' instead of 'jobs'
6. Poor perception by the job seekers.
With so many adverse conditions will the BPO industry in India can survive ? Only time will tell what the future holds for this segment.
Here is a good write up on the challenges that are affecting the Indian BPOs and what the Government must be doing to shore up the environment for doing business in ITeS. Share your valuable thoughts on this subject.
Happy Weekend
Founder HRinIndia
23rd September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
BPO industry in India – new challenges
A+ A-

The fact that the Business Process Outsourcing industry in India is growing faster than ever was demonstrated by the “standing room only” sell out response to NASSCOM’s annual BPO summit in Bangalore in August. An industry which was created to a large extent by the early moves of GE under the leadership of Jack Welch now sees globally listed firms like GENPACT, WNS and EXL clocking a few billion dollars in value and leading a pack of small medium and large firms whose employment may well overtake that of the much older IT services industry in the not so distant future.

The views of the research industry leader, Gartner at the conference point the way to the future of this dynamic segment of the Indian knowledge industry. Single process outsourcing successes have morphed into for comprehensive end to end services with more and more process optimization resulting in higher value addition. Platform BPO solutions have also begun to substantially improve the quality and speed of new process migration offshore and multi-function BPO as well as comprehensive Human Resource Outsourcing have moved to the very apex of the “hype cycle”

There are quite a few challenges emerging as well. The abrupt rise of the rupee against the dollar and pound have left many young BPO firms gasping for breath and the inherently lower profitability of this segment compared to the industry majors in IT services puts most players at risk with the dollar likely to seek lower and lower levels against the rupee in the next eighteen months or so. Business transformation consulting which seemed to be the logical next wave as more and more KPO (Knowledge Process Outsourcing) wannabe firms emerged has dipped into the trough of disillusionment that follows the peak of inflated expectations in the Gartner hype cycle and if the industry has to continue to maintain a profitability level north of twenty percent, a study by Mckinsey suggests that many critical parameters of operational excellence – shift utilization, productivity, support costs , span of control and the ever present Damocles sword of attrition – have to be put under the microscope.

Another interesting nugget from Mckinsey was that industry leaders who are setting best practices in human resource management and retention actually pay less than the laggards and are leveraging effective people management practices rather than higher compensation to keep their teams intact. And finally, a reaffirmation of a feeling that most industry watchers have had – captive BPO units average a cost level which is thirty seven percent more than third party processors even though the best in class turn in cost data which is less than the figures of the best third parties.

There is an old Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times” and these are definitely that. The paradox is that a segment of the industry which benefited in its initial days through its umbilical cord connection with the IT sector is now concerned that the withdrawal of tax benefits may result in making the Indian BPO sector less competitive than competitors like China and Eastern Europe which are nipping at our heels. Maybe better sense will prevail and the sunrise industries will get continued support from the powers that be – let’s wait and see!

Dr. Ganesh Natarajan is Vice Chairman of NASSCOM and Deputy Chairman and MD of Zensar Technologies Ltd.
23rd September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
Source: DQ-IDC BPO E-Sat Survey 2007
Busting the common myth that BPO employees join/change jobs based primarily on salary hikes, the survey finds that a good work environment and high growth opportunity are better attractions. This is in contrast to salary and compensation for IT employees
Individually, within the parameters of employee satisfaction, large firms do comparatively better in work culture and image; expectedly, niche companies do better in salary and job content, and there is a mix when it comes to appraisal. When you go to the sub parameters, the large firms do better on corporate governance, and honesty and integrity, while small companies do better in the day-to-day working culture related parameters.

The Industry Fares Better
Rankings apart, what comes as good news for the entire industry, is that at the industry level, the overall employee satisfaction score has gone up to 8.0 (on a scale of ten) from last years 7.8. This is in contrast to 2006, when the score had actually gone down.

This is heartening, in the midst of controversies and criticism. In fact, the satisfaction levels have gone up in five broad parametersjob content (8.1 versus 7.8 in last year), work culture (8.4 versus 8.1 last year), training (8.4 versus 8.1 last year), appraisal (7.2 versus 6.9), and people (8.4 versus 8.2). It has gone down in twocompany image (7.7 versus 8.2) and salary (6.7 as compared to 6.8). Salary also happens to be the factor about which employees are least satisfied.

Attrition Blues
Ask any BPO companys CEO or HR manager about his or her biggest challenge, and attrition is what theyll say. The industrys biggest demon is rampant attrition, with scores of BPO companies looking for talent, BPO professionals are in hot demand; and often these fresh out of college graduates hop from one job to another, till they can hop no more. With each jump, the package goes up by as much as 20%.
23rd September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
Choosing the Right BPO Partner

In the age of outsourcing, it is critical to engage in business relationships that assure successful partnerships. The practice of outsourcing business processes is maturing and we are now able to better assess those factors that have led to successful or failed outsource relationships. High on the list of factors that result in successful BPO relationships is choosing the right partner to support an organization’s business needs.

Generally speaking, companies know their business needs and challenges. However, successful BPO relationships defined by the vendor’s positive impact on their customer’s ability to meet their goals, is somewhat allusive in today’s evolving BPO service industry. Given that a failed relationship can result in millions of lost revenue, market share, and eroded customer base, it is critical to have clear criteria on which to base the decisions.

In terms of meeting clients’ needs in such an arranged relationship, it is incumbent on vendors to understand those core corporate characteristics that businesses must consider when selecting a BPO partner, as well.

Towards this end, a BPO relationship should be viewed as a highly strategic business partnership requiring a deep union between businesses. As such, in deciding upon the appropriate partner, the corporate “personality” becomes a very real and tangible aspect of the relationship to consider. In essence, the right match is likely to result in a long term relationship characterized by contract renewals, increased revenue for all and positive corporate images within their respective industries. A poor match will likely end up with large sums of lost revenue, damaged corporate images and possibly litigation.

The purpose of this article is to describe those corporate personality traits that characterize the “Right Partner” for corporate clients. Again, these traits may sound like the list a marriage counselor would provide a newly wed couple, but, the fact is that corporations are organizations of people who need to be able to maintain a high-level of communication, teamwork and, be capable and willing to negotiated differences.

Let’s take a look at the list….


A company should espouse Integrity as one of their core values. This is an indication to prospective clients that this vendor will do what they can to meet a company’s business needs in the most ethical and legal manner. When our times are characterized by corporate accounting and management scandals, vendor companies must set themselves above the others by clearly defining how they will maintain their integrity in providing services to clients.

Mission statements are a nice place to start, but, the crux of corporate relationships must be established between key corporate leaders. In establishing a partnership of trust, commitments must be made by those executives who can assure the delivery on promises. Having face to face communication and regular executive involvement helps to establish the tone of the relationship that is to be formed.

Open discussion of the issues and challenges on both sides of the relationship is required. Clients don’t want to be sold to, they want somebody who understands their situation and has a solution. Honest assessments of what is required to meet a client’s needs will drive customer confidence and establish a vendor as having integrity.


The best vendors offering BPO service understand that outsourcing is not a market that can be entered into without full commitment to the BPO relationship. In cases where solution providers are uncommitted, performance slumps, revenue drops, frustration develops and the relationship suffers.

The vendors who are able to exemplify the core values of the company they support and deliver the services for which they have committed are able to generate customer satisfaction, increased productivity and revenue. Furthermore, this level of commitment enables BPO partners to build a degree of trust that serves as support when times are rough.

Willingness to Listen

When engaging clients in BPO activity, it is critical t to understand the business circumstances and drivers that has them seeking this relationship. To do this, vendors must allow clients to describe their perception of their issues and challenges in detail. It is tempting to jump in early with solutions that may meet a client’s needs. However, often, requirements change with the introduction of additional stakeholders input, changes in budgets, market fluctuations, organizational restructures, IT architecture redesigns, etc.

A good vendor partner will take the time to gather the inclusive data that will accurately represent the corporation’s business needs and requirements. Furthermore, much consideration should be given to issues not raised. The best of breed vendors use their industry experience to bring forward additional considerations that should be made by their customers. Successful BPO vendors provide reliable services by designing their solutions around client requirements and industry best practices while setting clear expectations.


Corporations need vendor companies to be agile. The ability to respond to client requests and needs in expeditiously. Additionally, Vendor companies must demonstrate the ability to predict potential issues will prevent a lot of relationship conflicts, however, when issues do arise, good BPO vendors know the importance understanding the impact of an issue for their client and taking swift action by communicating this fact to their client. Again, having processes and contingency plans in place to resolve issues demonstrates a vendor’s ability to react to unforeseen problems in a controlled manner. This provides customers confidence in a vendor’s ability to maintain a reliable service.

A big differentiator between BPO vendors is those who identify potential opportunities and risks for client companies. As the business environment changes, so must rules, processes and models. Vendor companies must proactively help clients take advantage of changes in the business environment with an eye on long-term gains. Vendors who respond to contractual relationships by simply reacting to client needs, do to their clients a large disservice. Vendors who provide clients with regular industry insights, updates on changing technology, market insight, and business strategy drive client BPO relationships to more successful positions.


Once of the main reasons that companies join into BPO relationships is that they understand the business function they are relinquishing is not a core competency for their organization. As such, it should be the vendor’s core competency and as a result should be able to produce increased efficiency through increased innovation and process improvement. Vendors who simply replace resources and maintain existing processes are not adding enough value to the customer’s organization to justify the increased complexity of BPO.

Innovative vendors must evaluate and challenge existing modes of work to establish the best possible work processes for the organization they service. Given the protective nature clients may have of these processes, it is important to clearly understand these processes and present service improvement recommendation in a manner sensitive to the corporate culture in which the vendor finds themselves.

Corporations expect and desire technology innovations from BPO vendors however; these innovations should be approached in a responsible manner. Vendors who recommend unproven technical solutions must recognize the risks that they bring to their client’s business. Therefore, it is absolutely critical that vendors invite clients to open evaluation when recommend technology solutions that address business needs, are financially responsible and have a well established performance/support records. It is not uncommon for clients to request solutions that do not meet a vendor’s standards, and in these cases, the best vendors will communicate this to their clients to help them understand the issues involved and appropriately set expectations for the solution implementation. In this way, good vendors illustrate their willingness to innovate in a manner that best supports their clients’ business goals.

Financial Responsibility

Good vendor partners are able to establish that they will be able to maintain the relationship being entered. Most long term BPO relationships are assumed to be maintained with the same vendor. Vendor facing financial instability bring an increase risk to the client in the case of being acquired, business downsizing, or worst case, going out of business. Vendors who are financially unstable are less likely to invest in innovation, resource training and client relationship building activities.

Financial responsibility also extends to business activities that vendors take on their clients’ behalf. Good vendor partners strive to keep costs of business low and demonstrate appropriate accounting procedures for the business they support. Financial responsibility shows respect for the client company and further illustrates the vendors desire to support clients’ business goals.


World class BPO vendors maintain resource pools who can address their customer business requirements on a daily basis. This requires vendors to continually acquire talent and train staff to meet the challenges of their clients’ businesses. Having workers who are certified or degreed in specific areas of expertise will provide a standard of knowledge that will benefit the client.

Good vendor partners will work with their clients to identify and train those skills that make workers competent for the roles they are to perform. Demonstrating interest in the client’s business further strengthens the client-vendor relationship.

As corporate organizations become more complex, providing more products and services, in diverse vertical markets, vendors are forced to provide resources in many areas of expertise. Good vendor partners may establish relationships with other quality BPO organizations to enable them to provide the services their clients require. In so doing, good vendor partners establish and maintain relationships that assure the highest level of quality for their customers. The same principles of integrity, commitment, responsiveness, good listening, innovation and financially responsibility discussed above apply and may be contractually agreed.

Proficiency drives performance and competitiveness in the marketplace. The result of proficiency is that corporations are more successful in their marketplace and more profitable. Typical among the highest performing companies is that they have enterprise learning strategies designed to support their corporate goals. Similarly, the best of breed vendors recognize this and have proven strategies for helping clients build alignment and measure the impact on client’s goals.

In Summary, vendors need to be able to demonstrate that they are the “Right Partner” by demonstrating certain corporate traits consistent with your own. BPO relationships are strategic partnerships, it is critical to understand corporate cultures and establish relationships that are founded on principles that support business goals. With a foundation built on these traits, BPO relationships have a greater chance in establishing long term business relationships provide measurable value in terms of increase competitiveness, efficiency, and profit, in today’s challenging and diverse marketplace.
23rd September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
Dear Jay, was following the mail thread and found very elaborate and content rich. Regards, Senthil
23rd September 2008 From India
Dear Jay Your efforts in posting this valuable info is highly appreciated. Keep going friend. Regards Vamsi...
24th September 2008 From India, Hyderabad
share you challanges you have faced in your BPO company
24th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad

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To my mind, montonous work is impossible to sustain in the long run if you look at some of the literature on liking your work- lAbout Make your passion your profession Make your passion your profession(Work prisoners and students)
24th September 2008 From India, New Delhi
Client profile

US Government contractor, with various contracts across the Middle East.

Revenue in excess of $230m.

Situation prior to outsourcing

Client required to assistance to achieve maximum benefit from their newly acquired contract accounting software.

Invoicing was not manual and not system generated, resulting in anomalies in tracing costs.

Costs were inconsistently allocated to contracts resulting in potential lost billing and revenue.

Management information was inconsistent and not available on a timely basis.

Client was finding appropriate recruitment and retention of accounting staff a problem in certain locations.

Transformation approach

Compass BPO carried out a full revision of the accounting system set-up.

We re-implemented the system at the client site.

We reviewed and documented both the system setup and the clients accounting procedures, including internal controls.

Benefits post outsourcing

Correct system-generated billing and cost allocation ensured that the DCAA audit was completed efficiently and without major problems.

Review and reconciliation of costs resulted in discovery of missing revenue in excess of $3.5m.

Accounting system is now backed up off-site in India and system recovery is regularly tested.

Client now has a dedicated and experienced, off-shore accounting team as part of their resource, enabling them to provide timely and accurate management information and providing a back-office finance platform as their business grows.
24th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad

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India is making progress by leap and bound on one hand, and on the other hand, there are several important challenges are being faced by the industry. These challenges are:
24th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad

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Case Study-ISRO

Vox Spectrum successfully creates a radio audit trail for the Indian Space Research Organisation
The Customer

ISRO, the Indian Space Research Organisation, was formed in 1969, with the mandate to develop satellite launch capabilities to serve India’s needs. With spectacular success, ISRO built the ability to launch any kind of satellite into any orbit, and has put India in the select club of six countries with satellite launch capability.

Being a technology-driven organisation, ISRO is very selective about its solution providers. Vox Spectrum was honoured to be invited to address a specific challenge that ISRO faced.

The Challenge

ISRO has a very aggressive launch schedule, with several launches every year. Each launch involves the perfect co-ordination of activities of many teams, each working under pressure.

These teams communicate largely through radio, as their activities are spread throughout ISRO’s dispersed launch site at Sriharikota, near the city of Chennai in South India.

The challenge was that there was no audit trail for post-launch analysis. Vital commands would be given on radio, but ISRO did not have the ability to log them and replay them on demand to trace the pattern of events that led to a particular end.
ISRO’s internal systems were coordinated using a time signal generated by a specially designed system. Using a 1KHz tone, this signal encoded the current time to an accuracy of 1 millisecond. ISRO’s design engineers decided that they need a voice log of all radio conversations, encoded along with the time signal, which they could play back in a time-synchronised pattern. Their dedicated time display device would decode the signal when necessary. Vox Spectrum was invited to provide a solution to address this need.

The Solution

Vox Spectrum engineers analysed the customer requirements and devised a cost-effective solution that met all ISRO’s needs. Vox provided an 16 channel analogue system that was patched into the radio frequencies that ISRO needed to monitor. One of these channels was dedicated to recording the input from the time device.

When a record was played, the audio file was played back in synchronisation with the encoded time signal, though separate audio output devices. The time signal output went to a dedicated decoder, which displayed the time on a LED display device, while the audio signal went to standard speakers or headphones.

The solution was deployed in April 2003, and has been working to ISRO’s utmost satisfaction ever since. ISRO has since placed repeat orders for similar systems for their other launch facilities.
24th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
Hey Friends i want to know how the HR Accounting is being practiced in companies like Infossys, etc. if you have any information please help me. Regards, Navita
24th September 2008 From India, New Delhi
Dear Friends, These are realy very use full and wel defined elaborated facts Regards Varun Sharma
25th September 2008 From India, Gurgaon
25th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
1. Brand equity: People still consider BPO to be "low brow", thus making it difficult to attract the best talent.

2. Standard pre-job training: Again, due to the wide variety of the jobs, lack of general clarity on skill sets, etc, there is no standard curriculum, which could be designed and followed.

3. Benchmarks: There are hardly any benchmarks for compensation and benefits, performance or HR policies. Everyone is charting their own course.

4. Customer-companies tend to demand better results from outsourcing partners than what they could actually expect from their own departments. "When the job is being done 10,000 miles away, demands on parameters such as quality, turn around timeliness, information security, business continuity and disaster recovery, etc, are far higher than at home. So, how to be more efficient than the original?

5. Lack of focused training and certifications Given this background, the recruiting and compensation challenges of HR departments are only understandable.

Key To success The key to success in ramping up talent in a BPO environment is a rapid training module. The training component has to be seen as an important sub-process, requiring constant re-engineering.

The parameters for the survey was:

Employee Size (Operation level executives), Percentage of last salary hike, Cost to company , Overall Satisfaction Score, Composite Satisfaction, Company Culture, Job Content /Growth, Training , Salary and Compensation , Appraisal System, People, Preferred Company: (Percentage of respondents of a company who named their own company as the preferred one), Dream Company: (Percentage of respondents in the total sample who preferred a particular company).

Employee Benefits Provided By Majoriy Of the BPO Companies

- Provident Fund: As per the statutory guidelines, the employee is required to contribute a percentage of his basic salary and DA to a common fund. The employer for this fund contributes as well. The employee can use the amount deposited in this fund for various personal purposes such as purchase of a new house, marriage etc.

- Gratuity: Gratuity is one of the retrial benefits given to the employee in which the employer every year contributes a particular amount. The fund created can be used by the employee for the purpose of long-term investment in various things such as a house etc.

- Group Mediclaim Insurance Scheme: This insurance scheme is to provide adequate insurance coverage of employees for expenses related to hospitalization due to illness, disease or injury or pregnancy in case of female employees or spouse of male employees. All employees and their dependent family members are eligible. Dependent family members include spouse, non-earning parents and children above three months.

- Personal Accident Insurance Scheme: This scheme is to provide adequate insurance coverage for Hospitalization expenses arising out of injuries sustained in an accident. It is applicable to all the employees of JFWTC and covers total / partial disablement / death due to accident and due to accidents.

- Subsidized Food and Transportation: The organizations provides transportation facility to all the employees from home till office at subsidized rates. The lunch provided is also subsidized.

- Company Leased Accommodation: Some of the companies provides shared accommodation for all the out station employees, in fact some of the BPO companies also undertakes to pay electricity/water bills as well as the Society charges for the shared accommodation. The purpose is to provide to the employees to lead a more comfortable work life balance.

- Recreation, Cafeteria, ATM and Concierge facilities: The recreation facilities include pool tables, chess tables and coffee bars. Companies also have well equipped gyms, personal trainers and showers at facilities.

- Corporate Credit Card: The main purpose of the corporate credit card is enable the timely and efficient payment of official expenses which the employees undertake for purposes such as travel related expenses like Hotel bills, Air tickets etc

- Cellular Phone / Laptop: Cellular phone and / or Laptop is provided to the employees on the basis of business need. The employee is responsible for the maintenance and safeguarding of the asset.

- Personal Health Care (Regular medical check-ups): Some of the BPO'S provides the facility for extensive health check-up. For employees with above 40 years of age, the medical check-up can be done once a year.

- Loans: Many BPO companies provides loan facility on three different occasions: Employees are provided with financial assistance in case of a medical emergency. Employees are also provided with financial assistance at the time of their wedding. And, The new recruits are provided with interest free loans to assist them in their initial settlement at the work location.

- Educational Benefits: Many BPO companies have this policy to develop the personality and knowledge level of their employees and hence reimburses the expenses incurred towards tuition fees, examination fees, and purchase of books subject, for pursuing MBA, and/or other management qualification at India's top most Business Schools.

- Performance based incentives: In many BPO companies they have plans for , performance based incentive scheme. The parameters for calculation are process performance i.e. speed, accuracy and productivity of each process. The Pay for Performance can be as much as 22% of the salary.

- Flexi-time: The main objective of the flextime policy is to provide opportunity to employees to work with flexible work schedules and set out conditions for availing this provision. Flexible work schedules are initiated by employees and approved by management to meet business commitments while supporting employee personal life needs .The factors on which Flexi time is allowed to an employee include: Child or Parent care, Health situation, Maternity, Formal education program.

- Flexible Salary Benefits: Its main objective is to provide flexibility to the employees to plan a tax-effective compensation structure by balancing the monthly net income, yearly benefits and income tax payable. It is applicable of all the employees of the organization. The Salary consists of Basic, DA and Conveyance Allowance. The Flexible Benefit Plan consists of: House Rent Allowance, Leave Travel Assistance, Medical Reimbursement, Special Allowance

- Regular Get together and other cultural programs: The companies organizes cultural program as and when possible but most of the times, once in a quarter, in which all the employees are given an opportunity to display their talents in dramatics, singing, acting, dancing etc. Apart from that the organizations also conduct various sports programs such as Cricket, football, etc and regularly play matches with the teams of other organizations and colleges.

- Wedding Day Gift: Employee is given a gift voucher of Rs. 2000/- to Rs. 7000/- based on their level in the organization.

- Employee Referral Scheme: In several companies employee referral scheme is implemented to encourage employees to refer friends and relatives for employment in the organization.

- Paid Days Off

- Maternity Leave

- Employee Stock Option Plan

Inspite of all these benefits, the attrition rate in BPO industry is very high, why?. What is the reason for an employee to leave? These and many more are the questions that need immediate attention from the industrial gurus. Why people prefer to join BPO's? In general a person with any graduation can join any of the BPO. Some BPO's like to take people with MBA but then again the specialization are of an individual hardly makes any difference. Again, this is the industry, where there is no reference checks and very often people don't even specify there exact age. Lets me share with you some of the reasons as why people prefer to join a BPO:

1. Did not get a better job.

2. Find nothing better to do.

3. Education level doesn't matter

4. Good work environment

5. Good Benefits

6. Flexibility of time

7. Attractive life style

8. Transport facility

Why people leave the BPO's? When there are so many benefits associated with BPO industry�.when there are so many privileges for the BPO employees than what makes them to change the company/industry?? Is it only MONEY that matters or anything else as well?? Here are some of the reasons for a BPO professional to change his/her job.

1. No growth opportunity/lack of promotion

2. For higher Salary

3. For Higher education

4. Misguidance by the company

5. Policies and procedures are not conducive

6. No personal life

7. Physical strains

8. Uneasy relationship with peers or managers
25th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
In the software and services space, the role of the Indian BPO industry is going to get relatively important over time. This is because the software services industry is about three times larger than the BPO industry and is growing at a significantly slower pace (around 30 per cent, compared to 40 per cent for BPO) already.

So it is the BPO industry which will have to carry the can, in terms of the growth rate, in the run-up to 2008, by which time India has targeted for itself exports of $50 billion, compared to $17 billion in 2004-05.

Against this tall order, the good news is three-fold for the BPO industry. First, these are still early days. Despite the consolidation that has taken place through several high-profile M&A deals last year, the top 20 players' market share has remained the same.

Everybody, the big, who are global class in quality, and the small, some of whom are not, is growing at a very rapid rate (BPO exports grew 44.4 per cent in 2004-05). So there is good scope for further rapid growth.

Second, the BPO industry overall is doing quite well, according to a survey and global benchmarking by Nasscom. Currently, the end user rating for Indian BPO is as high as that for North American vendors, the global leaders. The same is the case in terms of the number of fatal errors made.

Third, the leading Indian BPO vendors are rapidly maturing and going up the value chain. The Nasscom study has defined three phases which BPO companies go through while maturing: phase one -- with potential, relying on cost advantage; phase two -- relying on performance in service delivery; and phase three -- promising operational excellence in terms of established benchmarks.

Nasscom says the Indian BPO industry is moving from phase one to two, that is from potential to performance.

Vikram Talwar, CEO of EXL Services, one of the leading Indian BPO firms which is heading to be the first Indian-managed BPO firm to list at Nasdaq, says there is "no future in voice (the bottom rung of the maturity ladder), and we shouldn't be in it". But he sees great future and value in hybrid services offering both voice and non-voice services. The growth rate in this will remain high for the next 2-5 years.

"The transition from voice to hybrid is needed and it's happening. But the future is really in consulting and analytics. That's where true value is generated." In all except pure voice, growth can continue at 30-40 per cent. In hybrid services growth is established; in pure non-voice (handling of entire processes), demand is starting to grow and clients are looking for size and comfort levels.

If the weakness of Indian BPO was that its biggest players were mostly in the commoditised voice business, then key change is taking place in one company.

Says T K Kurien, who has just taken over as chief executive of Wipro Spectramind, "In three years we will become a different kind of business. Headcount will not be a factor any more, though topline growth will remain in the 30-40 per cent range."

This will be achieved by drastically changing the work mix, which is still 80 per cent voice. The share of end-to-end processes work will be raised four times to 40 per cent in three years.

So a transition is taking place but there are two key challenges ahead. The first is the skills scenario -- the industry's attrition rate is now legendary, ranging from 25 to 40 per cent (Nasscom figure), to 70 per cent in the case of at least one leading voice player.

To beat the attrition and accompanying rising costs, when people leave in droves, companies sharply hike compensation packages, thus laying up trouble for the future. GECIS Global CEO Pramod Bhasin's solution is to expand in two- and three-tier cities.

"There is a lot to learn in how and where to recruit." He finds cities like Jaipur to be 'fantastic', with 'low attrition, low costs and good lifestyle'.

The successful hybrid players like WNS, EXL, and GECIS Global, which do not rely extensively on voice, find that as they grow they are learning to live with attrition. Rahul Singh, CEO of e-Serve, also feels that the industry is maturing and already there are several focused players.

That is the recipe for everybody -- get more focused, "select the domain and then scale up", and not as some have done till now. But the real challenge is not in the gross numbers, made up by entry-level recruits who flit from job to job, but retaining management talent -- getting the middle management to go to the two- and three-tier cities.

The second challenge is the data security issue, which anguishes the whole industry. The best industry players say they are more rigorous on security than many even at the home base of the clients.

"It is probably the single-biggest issue for Indian BPO," says Talwar. Bhasin adds, "Data protection will be India's issue and we have to manage perceptions. It all depends on how you follow up when something happens."

Everybody agrees that the government and Nasscom should put together a set of best practices and all the necessary laws must be in place. But there is a bit of gray area here. Most of the industry feels that India needs a comprehensive data security law and Nasscom was working on this with the previous government.

But the tune has changed a little with the change of government. The argument now is that most of the laws, 98 per cent, are already there. It is for Nasscom to tell the government that a comprehensive law is needed and the sooner it is put in place the better.

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25th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
TAKEAWAY: Thanks to Fostering Technologies in Rural Areas (Fostera), a rural business-process outsourcing initiative in India, 200 youth from poor families from local villages can find employment. Dr. Santhosh Babu, creator of Fostera, hopes to replicate the model across the country.
25th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad

Suitors Size Up Indian Lehman

Samyabrata Ray Goswami and Vivek Nair

The birthplace of the Lehman

brothers in south Germany.

Heinrich, Emmanuel and Mayer

Lehman founded Lehman

Brothers after migrating to the

US between 1844 and 1850

Barclays — the British bank — emerged as the knight that could rescue Lehman Brothers’ investment banking operations in India.

News of the Barclays bailout came amid mounting speculation that software giant Wipro might be interested in the 2,000-member back office operations of the troubled investment bank which filed for bankruptcy protection in the US on Monday.

Barclays is considering the possibility of acquiring the profitable Lehman assets in Asia — and the reports ignited hope among Lehman’s employees in India that at least some of them might be able to save their jobs.

“We now have the opportunity, and it’s an opportunity that we’re looking at quickly and seriously, to see what else might fit with the businesses we’re developing around the world,” Barclays chief executive John Varley told analysts at a conference call that was held a day after it announced a $1.75-billion deal to acquire Lehman’s core US operations.

In an internal memo circulated to employees, Lehman chief executive Richard Fuld said talks were under way to sell “hopefully, in the near term, parts of our European and Asian operations as well”.

“Our information is that if all goes well, the Asia deal will be sealed in the next 48 hours,” said a top source at Lehman Brothers’ investment banking division in Mumbai’s Worli area where 100 people work.

The source said Barclays had already started discussions with relevant international regulatory authorities. However, there are no assurances that all the international operations will be acquired.

But Barclays wasn’t the only one on the prowl. Reports indicated that Anand Rathi Securities — an eponymous Mumbai-based brokerage founded by a former president of the Bombay Stock Exchange — was also eyeing Lehman’s institutional broking business in India.

The institutional broking business, which notched up revenues of Rs 40 crore to 70 crore last year, is one of the profitable elements of Lehman’s India operations, which was beefed up last year when it acquired Brics Securities, a small local brokerage.

Brics Securities had emerged last year as one of the top institutional brokerage businesses. It was formed in October 2003 when the JV Gokal Group acquired Birla Sun Life Securities — a joint venture between Aditya Birla Group and Sun Life of Canada.

Lehman did not disclose how much it paid for Brics Securities at that time. The industry buzz is that it paid Rs 200 crore for it. If the business is spun off now, it would probably be sold at a deep discount to that price.

The institutional broking business in India is extremely competitive in a field that bristles with large players like Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Securities and local firms such as Motilal Oswal and Prabhudas Lilladher.

The prospect of a Barclays’ lifeline to Lehman operations in India lifted spirits in Lehman’s Worli office. “People are banking on hope now,” the source said.

A Barclays buyout of Lehman operations in Asia would enhance its presence in the region. The British bank recently added a merger and acquisition division after picking up senior officials from ABN across the region.

Barclays’ Asia brokerage has been focused on foreign exchange and debt while Lehman has built up a formidable equities trading team in Asia.

The investment banking division of Barclays, Barclays Capital, currently only offers fixed income products here. A senior Barclays executive said: “India is one of our priority markets. Our focus now is on growing the market here. There are plans to increase our capital allocation and raise our head count in India.”

Lehman’s Mumbai office learnt today that Barclays had also decided to retain most of the bankrupt firm’s London-based in-house legal team of 50 lawyers. “It is a straw, really, but that seems a whole lot for a drowning person,” said a legal executive attached to the office.

The mood at the Powai-based back office was equally upbeat. “News of Indian BPOs making bids to take over this back-office has brought some cheer. On Tuesday, the whole place had seemed like a funeral parlour,” said an employee.

There were reports that Infosys was also interested in the Lehman back office.

However, a Wipro spokesperson in Bangalore said the company would not comment on market speculation.
30th September 2008 From India, Ahmadabad
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