Exult says India BPO centre will see most hires

Exult Inc., a provider of human resources (HR) business process outsourcing (BPO) services, will increase the headcount at its BPO subsidiary in India to over 500 by the end of next year, from the current 70, according to an executive of the company. The Irvine, California, company also outsources technology development for its in-house requirement to two Indian software companies.

“As we get new BPO business, we aim to increase our numbers in India, rather than in any other location,” said Richard Jones, Exult’s operations president for Europe, India and technology. The company’s subsidiary in Mumbai, called Exult Client Services (India) Pvt Ltd., has facilities for 500 workstations, and can scale to about 1,500 people on three shifts, according to Jones. The company also plans to set up facilities in other Indian cities.

Exult is one of a number of U.S. BPO companies that have set up facilities in India to take advantage of the availability of low-cost and skilled English-speaking manpower in India. “In India there is access to a much higher quality workforce, at a very reasonable price,” said Jones. “You can hire a workforce in India and get started much quicker than you can in the U.S.” Exult is moving voice-based services, accounts payable, and a part of payroll to India.

Exult does not however plan to reduce its BPO staff in the U.S. The company currently employs about 1,000 in BPO at its facilities in the U.S. “We are not trying to do everything offshore in India, because we don’t think clients at this point will buy HR from an entirely offshore business, because of data security and data protection issues, so we are implementing a multi-shore model,” said Jones.

U.S. “safe harbour” rules on data privacy also dictate that the company keep a significant portion of its BPO work in the U.S., as India does not have similar legislation yet, according to Jones. “What makes personal data is if you have the facts and the person’s identity together,” added Jones. “If the person in the BPO centre in India is dealing with factual data, we can hide and keep in the U.S. the personal identity, and we encrypt the two and encrypt the key, so that the only time both these are joined together is when the factual data goes back to the U.S.”

Exult has facilities in the U.S., U.K., and India. The company has about 1,500 employees worldwide of which 75 per cent are involved in offering BPO services while the remaining are doing technology development. Exult currently offers HR support in English to about 360,000 employees of its customers.

“We target companies in the Fortune 500 list, and English is the predominant language,” said Jones. “But we are also looking at offering our services to companies in Europe besides the U.K., and then we will have to look at other languages as well.” Down the line, the company may start a facility in East Europe to offer BPO services in the German language to prospects in Germany, according to Jones.