Mahesh Jain, CEO of QX F&A and Recruitment Services divisions, oversees the management of close to 700 accountants, payroll specialists, and recruitment process experts. He is ultimately responsible for the delivery of F&A and RPO services to enterprise clients from recruitment, healthcare, PBSA, manufacturing and many other industries.
QX acts as a Center of Excellence and adopts a consultative approach to enable business transformation for its clients. In the words of one of QX’s clients:
“I think the important thing with QX is that you have a relationship. You have day to day communications and certainly it is something that evolves. You are still totally in control and QX becomes almost part of your company rather than your outsourcer.”
We spoke with Mahesh Jain about the key drivers of growth and trends in the Shared Services sector, with a special focus on discovering how Shared Services providers are helping their clients to acceelrate business transformation.
1. The global KPO sector is expected to grow by a CAGR of 11.4% from 2020 to 2025, estimated to jump from USD 39270 million in 2019 to USD 60470 million by 2025. What will be the key drivers of growth in the F&A and RPO sectors, based on your reading of the market?
The KPO sector provides valuable services to global businesses, and I am confident that it will continue to grow over the coming years. I would say that our primary focus at this stage is on expanding into new geographies, new sectors and penetrating the key markets further – this is where I see the biggest opportunity for revenue growth.
Having said that, improving operational efficiencies is definitely one of our key priorities. It’s a no brainer – if you are able to improve efficiencies, the cost goes down, and this naturally improves the bottom line. While the F&A Outsourcing market, as a part of the overall KPO services market, will grow – only those companies that are able to make the transition from mere delivery providers to value-added business partners will benefit from the growth trend.
One of the key reasons clients turn to QX is process optimisation and improved efficiency. Achieving this helps us drive value for our clients – our contribution helps them get one step closer to achieving their business goals. Another area of potential revenue growth is driving operational efficiencies internally to reduce the cost of operations.. At the end of the day, BPO-KPO companies will have to provide a superb customer experience to stay relevant.
2. That is an interesting point, Mahesh. How important is the client or customer experience for QX? How does QX measure and improve customer experience?
In today’s fast-paced business world - and especially in the highly competitive service sector that we operate in, enhancing the customer experience is an ongoing process. Understanding what we are doing well, what we could improve and what is possible to achieve – using the best tools available in the market and leveraging our large talent pool and strength of the company culture – is a top priority for me as the CEO.
With dedicated teams working directly with our customers, we function as a partner more than a service provider. Satisfying our customer’s needs better and deliver a better experience is a top priority for us – be it through better MI, continuous improvement in service quality, process transformation, or other value additions.
1) KPIs and 2) C-SAT surveys are the two key metrics we use for customer experience. Measuring KPIs on a regular basis and taking actions on learnings gleaned from the data has helped us to become one of the most efficient players in the BPO/KPO space.
We conduct thorough C-SAT surveys every quarter. The questions focus on multiple factors, including: Quality of Service, Turnaround Time, Friendly and Courteous Behavior, Query Resolution Time, Value Additions, and Ease of Communication. Any function or process within a project which receives less than 4 out of 5 points is flagged. The response is shared with the Project Manager, who addresses the issue in consultation with the client.
In addition, a RAG (Red-Amber-Green) dashboard gives quick visibility on the status of any client, allowing the leadership team to identify and resolve any issues. Regular governance calls and on-shore client visits by our top management ensure that any client concerns are addressed swiftly. Of course, we make minor adjustments to this system based on specific request from clients, as and when required.
3. Over the years, QX has transitioned from a reliable service provider to a growth partner for many of its clients. How critical is cross-functional collaboration between multi-disciplinary teams for transformation?
We live in an age where technological evolution is rapid, but its implementation and relevant at the ground level is often limited. Most businesses are on the journey of continuous transformation – be it in terms of technology, processes or people. Such large-scale and ongoing transformations require close collaboration and shared vision between all the different teams that make up an organisation.
For example, I can see it within my team – we have the IT leaders and the operations leaders working shoulder to shoulder to identify areas of automation and transformation internally. Our operational leaders work closely with HR Business Partners and L&D divisions to recruit, train and retain the best talent.
The same applies to our teams working dedicatedly for the clients – they are working closely with the clients’ internal IT departments, vendors and other teams to accomplish the goals of digitisation and automation.
At the end of the day, businesses that foster collaboration between IT-Finance-HR-Operations-BD-Marketing departments will be able to implement technology more effectively; which, in turn, will allow them to deliver delightful customer experiences, giving them an edge over the competition.
4. You spoke about ‘digitisation’ and ‘automation’ as important goals for most organisations. In your experience, what are some of the major challenges companies face? Can you think of an example and also highlight the potential ways of dealing with the problem?
The key challenge in terms of Platform is of integration – systems that speak to one another and work well together. In a way, it is similar to the ‘People’ challenge – to have teams that communicate with each other and collaborate effectively.
At QX, F&A services and digitisation support are one of our core areas of expertise. So I will give an example from this area. Integrating disparate financial systems is a major challenge for most businesses out there, and most mid to large-sized businesses are on the journey to connect their systems.
We have assisted many of our clients to migrate to new software and build more connected systems. While I am aware of some businesses that have successfully integrated their key systems, I would agree that it is a milestone many businesses are yet to achieve.
Specifically talking about payroll and accounting – there is no dearth of good software in the market, but most of them excel in serving a specific sector. A few are designed to meet the need of the healthcare sector, some excel in serving the IT sector, and so on.
One major challenge that any business looking for a new payroll software faces is making the right choice. Businesses need to consider their size, transaction volume, industry and reporting needs to identify the type of software that would serve them well.
Having analysed several software over a period of time, I can say that no one software can do it all. This gives rise to the need of having different software to take care of different pieces – while this requires a lot of effort at the initial stage, it can help companies create the most efficient workflow and maximise productivity.
The second aspect businesses must consider is the rapid pace of technological change. Ambitious projects that focus on achieving end-to-end integration using a lot of customisation and bespoke development are extremely complex and can take too long to complete – sometimes so long that there are better products in the market by the time the project is completed.
In light of this fact, for most businesses, using off-the-shelf products that can integrate with each other and existing systems may be the best option. Of course, careful consideration is required to find the right mix of software.
5. Does a one-size-fits-all approach work, or does each organisation need to build its path as it goes further on the transformation journey?
For companies that operate in the same industry, the path will remain more or less the same. Sure, there will be many variations based on each organisation’s process and culture, but a lot of the elements will remain the same for each industry.
Let’s take the example of facilitating better data sharing by connecting different systems. If you are a mid-to-large size recruitment company and you have a transaction-driven temp recruitment process. For such a business, it would be a good idea to invest in a payroll system that can integrate with the front-office system, perform the payroll and push the processed info into the financial system.
Things change if you are a manufacturing company with a heavy volume of purchase invoices. Your issue is not payroll, but the high volume of Purchase Orders. What you need is a proper AP workflow, and it would make sense to invest in tools that can automate your payables.
Tools like Concur, Docuphase, WebExpense and WorkflowWise can help to automate the entire process, right from Invoice data capturing through the OCR process with varied approval level matrix including payment follow-up and reporting and are further integrated with multiple ERPs. Rossum AI, Receipt Bank and Datamolino do a great job of capturing Invoice data which help in reducing manual data entry errors.
On the other hand, effective BI and MI are critical to any business, irrespective of the industry. Again, a number of tools are available here – PowerBI, Tableau, Microsoft BI, SAP Crystal, SAP Analytics, Clear Analytics, QlikView, IBM Cognos… Building connections that allow the BI software to pull and analyse data from ERP, Pay & Bill, other interlinked accounting systems is something that would benefit most businesses.
6. Where do QX’s clientele fall on the digitisation and business transformation spectrum? How are Global Shared Service partners helping their clients achieve their transformation goals?
I do not think of Business Transformation as a fixed destination – as new technologies continue to expand the possibilities, there is always room for more improvement. If I were to hazard a guess, I would put 25-30% of QX’s clients as Leaders in their fields, well ahead on their journey towards digital and advanced operations. About half of our clients have begun that journey in the last 3-4 years, while a small minority are yet to start it.
Over the last decade, the best BPO/KPO service providers have gradually moved up the value chain. While traditional Lift & Shift transitions for tactical services continue to happen, a number of service providers and clients are starting out with a long-term transformation vision in mind. Shared Service Providers like QX work closely with client organisations to drive transformation efforts.
For example, we have Technology Transformation and Process Transformation teams working in the background for our key clients, identifying, proposing and implementing process and technology improvements that lead to significant efficiency and cost gains.
While our clients chart out their transformation objectives, we work as a reliable and innovative partner to work out the details, drive process standardisation, prepare documentation, implement agreed projects, train teams and continue the cycle. Our focus is on helping to streamline and optimise processes, standardise the technology stack, and ensure availability of a flexible and cross-skilled team.
If you would like to learn more about how a Share Services / KPO partner can support your digitisation and transformation initiatives for finance & accounting services, please get in touch.