EXL plans to achieve world class operational excellence and competitive advantage. And for this, the organization is working towards the Six Sigma processes. Presently, it has a skilled manpower of 10000 employees which has grown from 1575 employees in 2003. With excellence as the key mission, accountability and ownership are the qualities that they cherish most in their employees. They believe that employees should be self-initiating rather than just relying on the organization to take care of everything. Having a sense of purpose and responsibility towards their work is what they aim to inculcate.
To make this a possibility the company has chalked out two areas – ‘leadership-enablement’ (employee-centric approach) and ‘process-enablement’ (proper co-ordination of different processes). For leadership, EXL believes in creating a superior people-driven organization enabled by world-class quality processes. To ensure this the company has a well-scrutinized appraisal system. According to experts, in the BPO arena the main challenge for the organization is to manage customer expectations, do effective problem-solving, keep a tab on the achievement of targets and help an individual evolve in the organization.
In case of ‘Process excellence’, the prime concern is to formulate a work culture, where customer focus and continuous improvement are the key guiding factors. At EXL Services, the process excellence approach concentrates on speed, cost and accuracy, in improving their client-servicing endeavor. The whole mindset should revolve around customer-driven approach and this should reflect in the culture of the organization. There is a continuous effort by the HR to achieve competency, productivity and satisfaction of the employees. The idea is to ensure that nobody takes anyone for granted, but work with the idea of respecting and understanding their responsibilities, so that each individual gets equal opportunity to develop. Once the employees are able to understand the depth of individual accountability it reflects on the professionalism of the organization.
The company believes in maintaining transparency with the purpose of having foolproof systems within the organization. An individual is assessed mainly under two core areas. First, is competency in terms of goal accomplishment and the second is in terms of process accomplishment (as to how one goes about it). The purpose is to ensure that the appraisal process (which happens twice a year), is as transparent and credible as possible. There is a strong emphasis on maintaining the quality of team managers and team leaders, who influence the other employees. For this, the company has a separate management support process, which takes care of the issues of team leaders and keeps a close check on their performance.
There is a continuous emphasis on making EXL a close-knit organization, with an active participation by the top management. And this spirit is reflected in the company’s in-house corporate forum, which is a platform for the employees to voice their concerns, issues and queries. According to their HR Manager, rather than having a monthly ‘open house’ for all the employees, EXL has opted for such a forum, twice a year, for interaction between the employer and the employees. The purpose is to make it a platform for self-expression without hesitation. This also helps them test the communicative spirit of their employees. Besides this, each team regularly has a brainstorming session to be in tune with the core organization values. Usage of Intranet to give and receive feedback is also practiced.
Though the company does not have a set-system for grievance solving, the effort is to respond as soon as possible. According to the HR Manager, this boosts the credibility and enthusiasm of the employees. Though apparently the environment looks formal, the spirit is to have flexibility and informality in different processes. The company does not have an ‘open-house’, the weekly informal meeting of each team goes a long way in putting the company’s flexible work culture approach into practice. They motivate their employees to solve their issues by a face-to-face approach, rather than having a complex system of layers.
EXL’s Recruitment process EXL’s recruitment process is rigorous, with multiple hiring screens, which are customized to client/process requirements. They have the ability to recruit and train a significant number of employees per month to meet the rapidly expanding demands of the clients. EXL has made large investments in developing in-house training competence with centers of excellence in language skills, cultural orientation, insurance training and process / product training.
There is certification at every stage and the standards are set based on process requirements. Their language skills recruitment, training and certification process is highly integrated and its quality is monitored throughout the on-boarding process by a team of Customer Experience Executives who have been trained on EXL’s proprietary tool for language assessment. The entire on-boarding process is metric driven with monthly measurement of recruitment and training quality and a capability to drill down to root causes enabling corrective action. Their values are very strongly oriented towards creating client satisfaction and business.
Factors driving growth of Company a) Acquisitions: The acquisition of Inductis has given new wings to the business of EXL. Through this inorganic growth, EXL has raised from just being a service delivery company to a full solution provider. b) Focus on Organic Growth: EXL has been more focused on organic growth unlike its peers, Firstsource Solutions and WNS Global Services that have made multiple acquisitions. Firstsource, for instance, has made seven acquisitions so far, including the largest overseas buyout by an Indian IT or BPO firm. In comparison, EXL has made only one acquisition – its acquisition of research and analytics firm, Inductis, last year. (Economic Times, September 21st, 2007).
c) Leadership: In April 1999, Mr. Talwar co-founded EXL. He is widely regarded as one of the pioneers who foresaw the huge potential that could be harnessed from a vast, educated pool of graduates in India. In just nine years, EXL has earned a leadership position in its industry through continuous innovation in its value proposition-increasing operational efficiency, enabling effective decision making and enhancing risk and control environments. He was selected as a finalist for The Metro New York Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year(R) 2008 Award. According to Ernst & Young LLP, the awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate extraordinary success in the areas of innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities.
d) Efficient and cost effective operations: Company is looking forward to expand its operations to tier 2 cities, where it can get talent at less costs. Overhead costs would also be less in these cities. e) People are the asset of the company: Company is known to take the best people from the industry. Currently it offered Mr. Kiran Karnik (immediate past president of NASSCOM) to be on its Board of Director and the offer was accepted. 5. Challenges faced by industry
1. Voice: Non-voice mix of business: Generally, firms try to balance voice and non-voice business portfolios to diversify revenue and improve seat utilization. But voice based services continue to be the major portion of business for most of the Indian ITeS firms. The costs associated with a voice-based business are high given the high attrition rates and wage hikes. 2. Foreign exchange woes expected to continue: Climbing exchange rate can potentially be a threat to the Indian ITeS industry. 3. Attrition: Average attrition rates in the industry run as high as 55-60 per cent in the voice segment and 30-35 per cent in the non-voice segment
4. Knowledge pool: In order to ensure a consistent flow of trained manpower in the future. The challenge for the industry is not in employment but employability. 5. Wage increases: The ITeS segment recorded a rise of around 8-12 per cent in pay packets. The entry of a large number of newer players into the market has also raised wages. 6. Infrastructure: The lack of infrastructure has been an impediment to the growth of the ITES industry. ITeS companies are now locating their businesses on the outskirts of mega cities owing to the acute shortage of land. Thus, development in infrastructure is needed for roads, highways, mass-transit systems, power, water, housing, upgrading the international and national airport, hotels, convention centers and international flight connectivity to cope with the rapid growth of the IT Services/ ITeS-BPO.