Head to Head
Hinduja Global Solutions Limited (HGSL)
$165 million Hinduja Global Solutions Ltd.(HGSL), an outsourcing arm of the
multi-billion dollar Hinduja Group, excels in providing outsourcing solutions
that include Back Office Processing, Contact Center and Customized IT Services
to its global clients including several Fortune 500 companies. With over 75
clients, HGSL's client list has grown across verticals. Partha De Sarkar, CEO
of HGSL and Ajay Bakshi, AVP - process improvement & automation have had
great success in implementing key IT projects both internally and for their
customers. Sarkar believed in driving automation as a practice within the organization
to achieve operational success. Bakshi has had the credit of implementing 28
process improvement and automation projects across the organization.
How do you foresee the growth potential in the industry
that you operate in?
PDS: The Indian BPO industry successfully reengineered
itself to face the challenges of the global financial meltdown and emerged as
a net hirer even during the worst phase of the recession. It has reaffirmed
the faith of the global community in the robust and cost-effective models of
the Indian Outsourcing Industry. This industry will continue to expand geographically,
add new service lines and create new business models. The Indian BPO industry
currently serves customers in over 80 countries and in our opinion it will continue
to make significant additions to intellectual property and add new products
In the near future, the key global outsourcing drivers would
continue to be cost, access to talent, business improvements, speed-to-market
and access to diverse markets. In the current scenario, the focus on cost control
and reduction will grow and it is in this context that we envisage more integrated
delivery models in Tier 2 and 3 locations. We also foresee a rapid growth in
value-added offerings such as highly analytical processes, information research,
financial portfolio analysis, customer data mining, statutory reporting, and
inbound insurance sales, among others. These 'value delivery models' can be
across multiple functions or processes or across a process by vertical or function.
Our outsourcing projects in the future will be operative as well as consultative
in nature. We will be working jointly with the clients to determine outsourcing
opportunities, models, knowledge transfer plans and critical-to-quality measures.
CEO: Partha De Sarkar
AVP - process improvement & automation:
Business Challenge: To broaden the company's
footprint in the domestic market and establish it as a leading BPO player
in the rural segment, gain a keen understanding of customer businesses
and become a visionary for driving customer growth.
Upshot: The company is deploying enterprise-wide
workforce management tools; voice recording
solutions for voice and data migration; a customized CRM and payment gateway;
an IVR as well as broad-based attendance automation and online appraisal
Interview by N Geetha
As per NASSCOM's estimates, India is all set to get past
the $60 billion export target in FY 2011 and maintain its leadership position
in the global sourcing market.
AB: Despite all the talk by various bodies of growth
saturation, in my opinion this industry has just come out of the teething stage.
We have only seen the initial phase of the ITES/BPO/KPO industry and the next
one will herald the supplemental offering of value-added services and innovations
to end customers. The transition between these phases has begun and it will
accelerate over the next three to five year period and the industry will witness
astonishing levels of value-addition in the ITES/BPO/KPO industry. I see a major
transformation taking place in the industry's service delivery mechanism.
Can you give us an instance of how information availability
makes a difference to your business?
is our lifeline and for our
domestic and rural forays, we need extremely efficient yet low-cost IT
- Partha De Sarkar,
PDS: Real time availability of critical information
is of great importance to our business. Our train-the-trainer programs are constantly
updated with the latest information regarding specific sectors. This is significant
because we want everyone in our company, from the CEO to the agent, to be equipped
with knowledge relevant to the industry as a whole and sectors in particular.
The Indian government's plan to digitize all medical records by 2015 (based
on the Knowledge Commission of India's recommendation to set up a National Health
Information Network) might translate into an excellent business opportunity
for us in the long run. Information on the ideal locations for setting up Tier-II
/ Rural BPOs will save us valuable time in exploring unattractive locations.
Information is the lifeline of our organization and central to all of our processes.
AB: Information availability is the key and the only
key apart from hard work which drives all of our business and what is commendable
is that process automation brings in a high amount of transparency to the system.
During one of the improvement initiatives, we found that the existing feedback
mechanism in a client's complex process was taking 7-10 days to reach the last
level of processor/associate. This was obviously having an adverse impacting
on the SLA, not only in terms of speed but also in terms of accuracy, as the
shop floor was practically carrying that error for 7-10 days. Our solution now
ensures that the feedback loop closes out in 30 minutes and this has resulted
in a significant jump in the quality of those processes which now stands at
99.9998%. Our present efforts are to move up the chain by building in business
intelligence applications, which will pick crucial and critical business indicators
and then be used to create a white paper to help our clients in making their
businesses that much more competitive.
What are the significant business challenges that you face
as the MD/CTO of the company?
PDS: My biggest challenge has been to capitalize on
the low-valuations to acquire new skills and client relationships, which will
strengthen our business models and deliver long-term value for stakeholders,
extending our cost-arbitrage value proposition to an entirely new dimension
by establishing HGSL as a large player in the rural BPO segment. While targeting
markets such as China and Latin America, our challenge is with regard to broadening
our footprint in the domestic market.
successful IT implementations are an "Art of catching contradictions
early in day", we discuss all our issues before the final plan is
- Ajay Bakshi,
AVP - Process Improvement
AB: The biggest business challenge is to grasp the
business domains that our clients operate in, while having a focus on increasing
the clients' productivity. Besides understanding the customer business intricately,
the challenge is to be able to envision their growth as well.
So how does IT help in meeting these challenges?
PDS: IT is our lifeline and for our domestic and rural
forays, we need extremely efficient yet low-cost IT infrastructure. This helps
us keep the business profitable. We would also need robust IT security systems,
since the clients will have to be convinced about the safety and real-time connectivity
of the new locations with urban centers. In the initial phase of the implementation
there will be a distinct need to balance workload between our rural and urban
centers through call-traffic diverting tools.
AB: IT has helped us in e-enabling our internal processes
thereby helping us not only gain efficiency and transparency internally, but
also to improve processes compared to their erstwhile state at the customer
organizations. IT has evolved many new productive business processes and helped
us get rid of slow manual methods of transacting proving beyond a doubt that
IT achievements today are no longer perceived as hidden gains, albeit they manifest
themselves in improved efficiencies, productivity, lower attrition, better performance
management, repeat business etc., that creates a win-win scenario for us and
While we understand the advantage of labor arbitrage, we have also begun our
journey to move towards being a value partner for our clients. This journey
is a combined effort of our staff supported by process and automation as well
as innovations ensuring impeccable delivery which will eventually drive growth.
Can you recall any major IT deployment where you have been
the pioneer? Was there any skepticism about the value of the application?
PDS: We had deployed a few technologies where we had
been the pioneers before the competition began work on similar technologies.
These implementations include a variety of enterprise-wide workforce management
tools, voice recording solutions and those for the migration of voice and data.
We have implemented Customized CRM applications including the integration of
CRM with payment gateways, IVRs and dialers across verticals.
AB: All of the IT process improvement and automation
projects were started off after the creation of the concerned function. The
top two which come to mind are the Automation of Attendance and the Online Appraisal
System primarily keeping in mind the size and diverse geographical base that
these processes had to be successfully implemented in. These two projects are
sensitive in nature considering that they have a direct impact upon our associates.
Being a people-intensive business, the most crucial asset of any ITES/BPO/KPO
organization are our employees and we had to be careful while planning and executing
These two projects did initially meet with skepticism as they involved a large
number of logistical issues and since our organization is spread across diverse
domains, we needed to work with diverse factors and bring all business processes
under a common framework.
We were able to pull this off on account of the close proximity in which the
IT process improvement and automation team worked with the businesses at each
level and implemented the projects with the buy-in of all the stakeholders.
On what basis do you evaluate each IT project?
PDS: For each IT initiative in HGSL we defined business
objectives and requirements, conceptualized solutions, conducted risk analysis,
framed the deliverables, put together the resources, mapped out a preliminary
schedule and budget estimates as well as calculated the ROI. Every phase is
strictly monitored by the accountable authority and the IT department. Post
implementation, if required, corrective measures are taken. Each project is
evaluated against criteria such as uptime, adherence to budget limits, meeting
the projected cost savings and other quantifiable elements (such as reducing
the idle time in case of installation of a call-monitoring or diverting IT support
AB: Besides following the strict guidelines mentioned
above, we ensure that we cover the risks of a project in terms of technology,
its impact on employees, the handling of transition issues and the migration
activities thereafter. The Priority of any project is decided based on business
needs and gains that will be derived from the implementation.
The core objective of each IT project covers customer satisfaction, process
improvement, SLA gains, increase in revenue and cost reduction.
Have there been any situations where the two of you have
disagreed on an IT-related issue?
PDS: Generally there has been agreement on IT implementations
as the value is discussed in detail and the same has been delivered. There has
been considerable involvement of the management committee on any IT project
that is proposed to be taken up and therefore the benefits have been clearly
visible and delivered.
AB: All of our clients' requirements are discussed
internally amongst the management team, who evaluate and discuss the holistic
impact of the project as well as the solution process and timelines with senior
as well as mid-level management. Each project implementation is rolled out after
forming user teams with specific roles and time-driven tasks. Since successful
IT implementations are an "Art of catching contradictions early in day",
we discuss all our issues before the final plan is penned. As they say, if everyone
thinks alike then no one is thinking.
What are your priority areas going forward as far as the
business is concerned?
PDS: Our priority area is to expand our presence in
Europe through inorganic growth, add newer language capabilities to our portfolio
(Spanish, French etc.), consolidate our position in the domestic market,establish
ourselves as a major player in the rural Indian BPO segment and adopt a business
transformation approach and build competency in selected domains.
AB: The immediate priority would be to consolidate
all of our business process-related achievements under some case studies and
showcase these whitepapers in a structured way to our existing and prospective
We will be getting into greater detail on more business intelligence models
and maximize gain from the huge accumulation of data that we have.
Can you list out three technologies that most of your IT
spend would go toward in 2009?
PDS: Enhancing availability solutions, migration to
Hosted Model offerings, Software or Application Licenses, security implementations
as well as the refresh of desktops and management software. Our IT investment
across geographies would range from Rs. 35-40 Crores during fiscal 2009-10.
AB: Most of the focus this year would be on leveraging
service oriented architecture, business intelligence and possibly looking into