New BPO Horizons with ITeS

DQI Bureau
New Update

Chairing a conference on HR Outsourcing in Mumbai, earlier this year, I was

surprised at the galaxy of speakers and participants who came, saw and concurred

with the need for outsourcing, and appreciated the statistics of the substantial

number of large American corporations that have "been there, done

that" and lived to show the scars and the business results! However, at the

end of the seminar, chatting with a few people who had sat through the entire

sessions, I was bemused, and a little disappointed, at their takeaway-that HR

outsourcing is only about getting Payrolls and Personnel Records Maintenance

done better, faster, cheaper by an external agency, thereby passing on the

problems of data collection and accurate records maintenance to a third party.


Sad but true that it is very often the proximate pain that gets outsourced,

which leaves the company with some relief but never any great joy. Is it because

many contextual functions like HR and F&A are still perceived as support

cost centers in manufacturing and even some services companies where a rupee

saved has more value than a rupee earned, or is it just that most functional

heads and even CEOs have little or no knowledge of the opportunities that can be

created by truly strategic outsourcing?

Our own experience, through some initial forays into HR outsourcing in India

and abroad, has been revealing, to say the least. It takes the first three

months for any HR chief to get used to the idea of just record keeping and query

and reporting being handled from a remote site but, once the initial hiccups are

over, the attention shifts from Personnel Management to Resource Management,

Talent Management and Learning Management.

IT-enabled sounds almost prophetic as IT enables higher peaks to be scaled by outsourcing practitioners 

Ganesh Natarajan

In the Finance and Accounts area too, the conversation around outsourcing can

shift quickly from the tactical to the strategic as first generation Travel

Claims processing and Bill passing applications mature into full fledged

Accounts Payable and Accounts Receivable systems with Vendor and Customer Master

Management, Voice and Mail support to collections and payments queries and all

forms of Data Mining and Business Intelligence add-ons to the core application


Beyond the core functional outsourcing possibilities extends a full realm of

domain specific opportunities. Retailers worldwide are beginning to see Customer

Loyalty Programmes administered through offsite and now offshore service

centers. In every other sector, from the very cerebral area of Manufacturing

Designs to the relatively mundane Airline Reservation process, every business

strategist in global corporations is looking for ways to move processes out of

the organisation into the waiting arms of outsourcers.

The interesting part of this new wave of BPO, apart from the fact that it is

less "bums-on-seats" intensive as compared to the first wave of call

centers and cultivated American and European accents, is that there is genuine

value add and significant use of IT in warehousing and mining of data and

information, serving up the filtered explicit and tacit knowledge and enabling

strategic decision making on a real time basis. Strange that the word IT Enabled

Services, which was originally coined as a euphemism for BPO to give the

impression of being a close relative to IT Services, should suddenly sound

almost prophetic as IT enables higher and higher peaks of Strategic Outsourcing

to be scaled by practitioners in this country. May the ITEs tribe increase and

put the Indian flag at the peak of high value outsourcing in the years to come.


The author is deputy chairman and managing director of Zensar Technologies

and chairman of Nasscom's SME Forum for Western India Ganesh