Thursday, 29 March 2012

QX Limited Awarded ISO 27001:2005 Certification

ISO: 20071-2005, Certificate # IS 585119
On 21st March, 2012, following a successful audit by the British Standards Institution (BSI), QX Limited earned the internationally-recognized ISO 27001:2005 certification for its information security management system (ISMS). This is another laudable achievement as we are already an ISO 9001:2008 compliant company. With this certification we have taken a step forward towards our vision to establish the highest standards of Quality and Excellence.

The ISO 27001:2005 certification specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, operating, monitoring, reviewing, maintaining and improving a documented Information Security Management System within the context of the organisation's overall business risks.

QX recognises the need for such a certification and acknowledges that ISO 27001:2005 will indeed help to ensure appropriate safety controls to securely protect information and intellectual property. As an ISO 27001:2005 compliant organization, we treat information as the most valuable asset and continually assess our systems to ensure the highest level of information security. 

This certification comes at a time when QX Limited is accelerating in its journey from 'Good to Great'. We hope to display, to our customers worldwide, our commitment to the highest quality management & information security management requirements. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Indian Offshoring: 10 Years Down The Line

There is a popular saying which sides on the lines of an oxymoron: Nothing is permanent but change. Change is the only factor which is constant under any given set of circumstances. Today, it is this aspect of the Offshoring Industry which I would like to touch upon. Specifically contained to the Indian Industry, the road ahead is one which not only holds many promises but also a significant amount of hurdles. There are some aspects I would like to enumerate and analyze to try and paint an accurate picture pertaining to how India would stand 10 years down the line in the particular domain of Offshoring.

As per the findings published by the Hackett Group; a strategic advisory and research firm in the U.S, the U.S companies will “simply run out of jobs which can be moved offshore to locations like India” The Hackett Group’s offshoring research looked at 4,700 companies with annual revenue of $1 billion or more and based in the U.S. and Europe. It found that by 2016, a total of 2.3 million jobs in finance, IT, procurement and human resources will have moved offshore” The Hackett Group’s Director Martijn Geerling said, “After the offshoring spike driven by the Great Recession of 2009, the well is clearly beginning to dry up. It’s critical for India to develop alternative sources of demand, to maintain growth of their business services industries.”

So what does all this mean for the Indian off shoring Industry? Will we realistically be nearing the end of a golden era? An era in which highly developed countries looked at us as being a key player of qualitatively efficient and cost-effective service providers? Or will this just be a brief lull in an Industry which will develop new ways, methods, audiences and customers?

The answer to the future lies in the present. It is common knowledge that companies spend a significant amount of present profits to try and ascertain the future indices as accurately as they can. They undertake this exercise to minimize their β and reduce the volatility levels of their numerous future scenarios. It is this exercise, the Indian Offshoring Industry must undertake right now. To minimize future risks and maximize rewards, the Industry must come together and try and explore new avenues of Offshoring which are presently not being considered. India’s strength as a cost-effective nation is widely known. It is now upto us to look at services yet untapped by the Offshoring Industry, which can result in not only significant savings for the customer, but also new opportunities for the nation.

Considering our present domicile, India is one of the strongest players in the field of IT outsourcing, Voice-based process outsourcing, F&A outsourcing and Medical outsourcing. According to Hackett “another 750,000 such positions will be shifted (to India) by 2016. But levels of additional Offshoring will begin to decline by 2014”. This prediction follows one of the core economic principles of diminishing marginal utility. Make no mistake, in absolute terms; India will definitely see more and more jobs being outsourced after 2014. But the rate of such incremental outsourcing will be diminishing. This would be the time when India would have to consider and renegotiate the diversification of its outsourcing portfolio.

I would also like to place due emphasis on the importance of retaining our core competencies. It is often believed that acquiring a new client is easy, but retaining the client for a long period of time is difficult. So the Industry should make sure that all the existing clientele in the field of IT, Voice and F&A which use our services stay satisfied. I would not be too bothered if the clientele decides to shift from one service provider to other within India as I believe that competition always escalates the quality of the deliverables and such intra-country competition would only heighten the levels of satisfaction while still deploying huge economies of scale.

In summary, I believe that though the road ahead is not easy, the idea of realistically diversifying into untapped areas holds a far greater promise. If India can manage to maintain a stronghold on its core competencies and further look at the provision of providing outsourcing services to ancillary domains, the future will definitely be something we can look forward to.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Ahmedabad - Best Indian City For F&A Outsourcing

India is a country full of diversity. The country’s 28 states have an equal distribution of various core competencies. Each state has its own individual prowess- which is directly attributable to various factors like its geographical proximity, availability of natural resources, quality of manpower etc.

In this article, I would like to stress on the dexterity of the state of Gujarat as one of the best players in the domain of Finance & Accounts outsourcing. Gujarat is a state which has always been a strong contender in this segment. The state’s strengths lie not only in the quality of its educational system, but also the inbred mentality and attitude of its people. The state of Gujarat is most famously known for the birth of its most famous entrepreneur; Dhirubhai Ambani who went on to create one of India’s biggest Public Limited Companies- Reliance.

Gujaratis have since long been regarded as the strongest pivot of the country’s financial system. The people of the state have an ingrained mentality of valuing money and making the most of potential business opportunities when compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country. Their embedded focus of being perceptive and sharply insightful in all matters related to money has often seen them succeed where others have failed. It is this approach which has also seen them cut costs and save an inordinate amount of money in various areas which potentially is the difference between profitability vis-à-vis the survival of a business venture.

In addition to this congenital outlook of the people, the state has a top-grade educational system. Moreover a significant amount of students prefer to take up the Commerce stream and build further upon their ingrained capabilities. A recent statistical analysis of the Chartered Accountancy results brought up a ratio, which though skewed was not a surprise. The analysis proclaimed that the ratio of success for aspirants from the state of Gujarat was significantly higher when compared with the aspirants from various other states. This ratio, together with the inherent business acumen of the people proves that Gujaratis do excel over their counterparts in matters related to money, funding, finances and even accountancy.

Zeroing on further, I believe that the city of Ahmadabad in Gujarat is one of the strongest contenders in the field of F&A outsourcing due to a variety of reasons. But before getting on to the reasons which I believe are true, here are some facts about Ahmadabad as cited by independent authorities.
  • In 2010, Forbes magazine rated Ahmadabad as the fastest-growing city in India,
  • In December 2011 a leading market research firm IMRB declared Ahmadabad as the best mega-city to live in
  • In the List of cities by GDP (2008) PWC Ranks Ahmadabad 5th amongst all the cities of the world.
In addition to the above critically acclaimed awards, Ahmadabad boasts of world class infrastructure facilities. Also incorporation of various measures by the Gujarat Government aimed at giving the state of Gujarat a significant edge compared to other states have gone a long way in amplifying the resounding success the state has already seen. The Government did this by the creation of two outsourcing Parks near Ahmadabad. They first created Infocity; a veritable hub dedicated to ‘voice-based outsourcing’ and later went on to incorporate GIFT City; a Special Economic Zone which gives huge tax breaks to companies engaged in F&A outsourcing. These measures along with the aforesaid infrastructure facilities, coupled with the high quality of human resources as well as their exceptional capabilities in the F&A domain give this city a definite markup when compared to other states of the country.

All in all, Ahmadabad is buzzing with more and more opportunities being created due to incremental business being outsourced to the various KPO’s in this city daily. I would have no qualms in saying that 5 years down the line, Ahmadabad will be the one of the biggest centres of F&A outsourcing in India- if not the entire world.

(Fact Source: Wikipedia)

Friday, 16 March 2012

3 Tell-Tale Signs That You Need To Ship Offshore

During my decade as a business development director, I have observed that business owners and senior managers engage in various forms of marketing. Right from attending voluble conferences/seminars/networking events, placing adverts in newspapers, overweening appearances in TV commercials, publishing self-promoting articles in relevant industry magazines, to the unaccommodating task of cold-calling, they seem to have employed them all. And many to the desired effect.

Some feel tertiary levels of marketing like cold-calling and email-shots have been done to their deaths. Being a self-proclaimed analyst I’d beg to differ on this. Even if the results are based on the probability factor, I believe that cold-calling and email-shots help gain insights into how the cogs turn in any industry. For me, personally, it has produced excellent insights and statistics.

Over the years, using these insights, I have analyzed why many companies either chose to outsource or dismissed the F&A model with a swift flick of their hands. There have been a number of reasons, and having headed BPO marketing departments, for as long as I can remember, I can say I have heard them all.

Some of our clients chose to outsource for a broad spectrum of business reasons like prevalent economic conditions, reducing the clerical workload, restructuring costs, reduced labour cost available with offshoring, while others chose not to outsource because their business priorities were different, or simply because the decision makers did not think it was the right thing to do.

A survey carried out by HFS Research in 2011, concluded that the demand for F&A outsourcing has reaching unprecedented levels. The current economic climate has even turned the prudent ones to outsourcing. They surveyed the buyers of outsourced services and revealed that 31% of businesses are already using an offshore provider and another 17% were about to take the leap into outsourcing.

What I am trying to imply here is that it is becoming increasingly clear that people are seeking outsourcing to make businesses profitable in these uncertain economic times.

Whatever the reasons to outsource or not, here are 3 tell tale signs that your business case is in need of a major overhaul.

1- You want to focus on business growth over operations

We have delivered benefits that go beyond the scope of cost savings. Outsourcing has brought about massive innovation as new resources are made available to strategize. It functions as a rung which allows you to take the next step towards growth. This is very important as your resources give you the competitive edge over others.

When you team up with QX, it’s not merely a provision of our services. You partner with us and we develop a long term relationship with you.  Additionally, outsourcing also reduces the overheads that come with recruiting, retaining and training your own team. It frees up office space, purchase of technology and the investments that go with it. So don’t get entangled in the cumbersome chores of buying and maintaining, and free up your time to go out and do what you do best: get more business.

2- You want to slash costs

I have gathered that cost cutting is one of the top three reasons why any company would choose to outsource. In terms of cost reductions, our clients, initially, had set a target to cut the cost by at least 30% when they started with us. In comparison to their in-house cost, we were able to deliver reductions close to 50%.  One of our clients asserted that the savings acted as a jumpstart and he was able to use the savings to raise his portfolio of clients.

I understand that saving money is not everything for large and medium sized companies. I think the top two reasons why companies choose to outsource today are:

a)    Freeing up internal staff for value added initiatives
b)    Focusing on core competencies of the business

3- You are reeling under the burden of recession

It’s a given that a businessman wears many hats. And there will be a time when he has to weigh the circumstances and analyze the impact the recession has had on his business. There is a lot of research evidence that suggests that the recession is here to stay. Without trying to sound like a naive pessimist, I want to affirm that the times are slow, the drought seems never-ending and the roots of recessions have dug in deep. Reducing costs/overheads has become a top priority with many businesses.

Today, businesses need to look at ways to maintain revenues. At the same time you might be compelled to keep your roots down. Businesses are torn between choices - to outsource and increase revenues or to remain local?  At the same time, the world is becoming increasingly global and this has had a dramatic influence in virtually every person’s life.  We are more connected to each other than we ever were. There is a constant flow of global capital between countries, technology can now be easily transferred between nations, and international trade is on an all time high. It’s imperative that we confront this opportunity rather than shy away from it.

Food for thought

As the world moves towards a global economy, the path to success lies in excelling at things which differentiate you from your competitors. Whether you choose to reduce operating costs, or focus on the core competencies of your business, outsourcing is about achieving the next level of benefits. It is the means to hold your own in this highly dynamic business environment.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

India vs Southeast Asia - The Battle of the Asian Outsourcing Giants

The outsourcing industry as a whole has witnessed a sharp turnaround over the past 2 years. A detailed qualitative analysis of the steady growth of India in the Outsourcing industry has shown that India has actually been going from strength to strength as it looks to increase its market share by a massive 37% CAGR for the year 2012. The path is thus paved for the future; India is a definite giant in the Outsourcing Industry and it is here to stay. But a close look at the 2nd spot tells us that the battle is far from won. India's competition is close at its heels and it is a definite force to be reckoned with. This force is made up of a strong combination of the South East Asian countries; all of which are technologically very strong with wonderful infrastructure amenities.

Let us take the case of Philippines. Compared to India, this country has traditionally enjoyed significant dominance in the 'Voice' sector of the BPO Industry. Quite a lot of this dominance is because these countries, due to their close proximity to Japan, China and other technologically advanced countries- have fantastic IT infrastructure which is second to none. Another reason is because the youth of these countries follow English as their primary language; their vocabulary, their speech and their accent is preordained towards this industry. This helps the callers from a varied majority of English speaking countries to have an emotional connect with the person at the other end since they believe that they are actually speaking to a person of the same nationality. India on the other hand, while not employing English as the primary language prefers to stem and cultivate this language through its primary and secondary schooling. Indian vocabulary is free from slang and their accent is predominantly stemmed towards the British English. Since the Outsourcing boom started with a majority of US companies outsourcing their operations, it has taken some time to realise the difference between the potential of India and other South East Asian countries as an outsourcing hub. They both have their own strengths; but with the economic turnaround that is being seen in India as well as India's core competencies, it might just be a time for the US companies to hedge their bets.

Over to the 'Non-Voice' sector, India is significantly ahead compared to its closest competitor. Companies all over the world have explored options of outsourcing their 'Finance & Accounting' operations to the South East Asian countries, but these companies have been far from satisfied as regards to the quality of their operations as well as the cost savings involved. The secret behind India's unparalleled success in 'Finance & Accounting' operations has a lot to do with its culture and its history. Right from inventing the zero to the modern age, most companies look to hire Indian brains as their CFO. The inherent power and command of Indians over Finance and Accounting has been insurmountable as Indians have traditionally been recognised as being one of the most financially prudent people in the world.
As is synonymous between 'IT outsourcing' and 'India, the terms 'Financial Outsourcing' and 'India' have also been following each other in the recent years. Countries all over the world have come to appreciate the exacting standards laid down by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and the grilling exams a person has to pass to become a member of this Institute. Individuals who are members of this Institution have an amazing aptitude for numbers as well a concrete knowledge of Accountancy, IFRS, US GAAP, Indian Accounting Standards as well as the Auditing and Assurance Standards. A thorough detailed practical knowledge of these topics ensure that a person, who is a member of this Institution is indeed at the top of his game and is extremely knowledgeable in relation to the finer nuances of Finance and Accounting. It is these types of highly qualified people that the Indian Outsourcing Industry generally hires. The South East Asian Countries follow an educational level for Finance & Accounting professionals; which though quite good is not as stringent and thus companies outsourcing their Finance and Accounting to India will always get better quality of results at a cheaper cost. In the long run, it is this quality which gives India an edge.

In summary, the South East Asian Countries are doing really well for themselves; especially in the domain of the provision of 'Voice Services' to the US companies. However where the matter concerned relates to the provision of 'Voice Service' to their UK counterparts and the provision of 'Finance and Accounting' services to any global enterprise, India definitely has the edge

Please share your thoughts.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

QX's Annual Event covered by Times of India, Ahmedabad

QX's annual flagship event for 2012 has generated its share of ink and bytes. Today the 7th of March, the Ahmadabad edition of Times of India ran a story covering the event. 

Click image to enlarge

It seems it was only a few months ago that all of us at QX had celebrated the annual event in 2011. Since then we had looked forward to getting stuck with new challenges and opportunities. And believe me we had our share of both.

Well, a year has gone by in a blink and once again we found ourselves preparing for the event in 2012. It was a wonderful day and now we await the next one. I very much hope that the year turns around quickly and we come face to face with our flagship event in 2013. 

It was a great beginning to 2012, and I hope that we have another outstanding year this year. For the time being spoil yourself and regale in the photo memories of QX's Annual Event 2012.

Click here for more pictures from the event


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

QX Annual Event 2012

The excitement could be felt through the air like a brandishing charge of Static Electricity; it was a day which everybody at QX was looking forward to- The Annual QX Event. Everyone at QX had been waiting with bated breath for the arrival of the 3rd of March. And when it finally did, the seemingly endless wait was completely justified by the endless amount of fun ‘n’ frolic.

The buildup to the event had been immense. Tactfully handled by the Human Resources department, they carefully dropped enough preplanned hints at regular intervals to keep the employees interested. With more and more details coming out of the woodwork each passing day, the informal chatter within the organization built into a boisterous cacophony as the enthusiasm levels went through the roof.

Finally all the information was released which included a tentative itinerary of various categories of performance in which an employee could register themselves. In the days that followed, employees from various departments registered themselves for various performances- individually as well as a team. In the 2 weeks immediately prior to the event, the hustle and bustle in the organization increased dramatically as employees could be seen rehearsing for their performances before/after work hours.

The day finally arrived. The eagerness of watching and waiting had finally culminated into high hopes and unmatched enthusiasm from the participants and the audience respectively. The air was flavored with anticipation as the first of the performances was scheduled to begin. And what a first performance it was. Kruti from the Locums Department put up a mesmerizing traditional classical dance which left everybody spellbound. Her graceful movements perfectly supplemented by a classical soundtrack left everybody in no doubts that the evening would just keep on getting better.

The tag team of the hosts- perfectly played by Abhishek Pathak from Business Development and Twinkle Patel from Human Resources put up a smile on everybody’s face with their continuous banter and a prolific mimic act of various personnel at QX.

After the dance performance, it was time for another one- but of a different kind. Sahil from the F&A department rocked the stage with his sculpted moves to a fast Hindi pop remix. His performance had everybody applauding even before he actually walked off the stage. Next in line was a scintillating dance performance by the Recruitment department. They went on to display the beautiful contrast between the golden era of Bollywood and the current new age period. The cries of “Once more” and “Repeat Repeat” could be heard through the venue as they ended their performance.

With the crowd still going berserk, the founder of the QX and the Country Head, Mr. Chris Robinson and Mr. Rajiv Bhatia, respectively, stepped up onto the stage to address the gathering. Chris touched upon various aspects of the company starting from the point where the idea of opening an Outsourcing company had germinated in his head when he saw the quality and skills of the people in India, especially Gujarat. He also invited upon the stage the guest of honor; Kaushal Mehta (Founder of Motif). Kaushal talked at length about QX, its core values and how he has always seen the organization go from strength to strength.

Soon it was again time for the festivities to start- this time it was the Fashion show organized by the employees of QX. To the thumping beats of music, the employees strutted around on the stage showing off their dressing prowess and their individual style statements. The fashion show then culminated into the contest everybody had been eagerly waiting for; Mr. and Miss QX. While the judges asked the contestants’ questions which were designed to evaluate their wit, thoughts, frame of mind and confidence, the contestants in turn tried their best to impress the judges with their witty and thoughtful replies.

Two brief gaps in the programme constituted the recognition and awarding of trophies/certificates to the employees who were most deserving. Various accolades were presented under the different categories of ‘Best Accounting Professional, Best Payroll Administrator, Best Recruitment Consultant, Best IT support administrator’ etcetera. To indulge a bit more in the fun factor, various certificates were also presented to the employees with citations like ‘The Megaphone Award- for the loudest person. The Smiley Award- for the person with the most smiles, the Barack Obama Award- for the person with the best oratory skills, the Energizer award- for the person who never slows down’, and so forth.

With the crowd in splits, Mr. Rajiv Bhatia then spoke about some aspects of QX and how we would be progressing up ahead in the years to come. He touched upon a variety of facts and future plans and also conveyed his satisfaction at the strong team building skills of the employees at QX. Finally declaring that all the performances have ended, he then declared the ‘dance floor’ as well as the lavish dinner spread to be open.

After a scrumptious dinner enjoyed by the employees, all of them then dispersed onto the dance floor. With a huge sub-woofer pumping out a deep bass, a heavy duty amplifier punching in power and multicolored strobe lights flicking around the disc, the employees let their hair down and had an absolute blast. The energy levels were going through the roof as the employees danced to their heart's content.

All in all- it was a day to cherish, a day to remember. It was a day on which, as per QX’s Heritage, all the employees felt the desire to unite, the need to be counted as one- as valuable human resources of an organization, which is slowly but surely being considered as one of the strongest forces in our Industry today.