Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rural BPOs witness higher job satisfaction

A firm is only as happy as its staff and by this measure the BPO operations of Satyam Computersí social arm in two Andhra Pradesh villages have been scoring high on employee satisfaction, unlike their urban counterparts.

While Business Process Outsourcing industry workers in cities are known to work under stress, resulting in high attrition rate, employees of Byrraju Foundationís BPO units paint a different picture.

"Itís a great pleasure for me to work in the IT sector from my own village. This opportunity gave me chance to fulfill my ambition of being part of the IT sector and also to live happily with my family," says P Sunitha Kumari, an IT professional working for Eetaha Kota rural BPO.

Besides Eetaha Kota, Byrraju Foundation has another unit functioning at Jalli Kakinada in West Godavari district.

The Foundation too is happy with the business it has been attracting since commencing operations eight months ago.

"The 100-seat BPO units are making a mark in handling back-office work like creating HR data base, type-sheet management, bill passing in a digitized format," Sarat Chowdhury, Partner, Byrraju Foundation, Satyam Computersí social arm, said in Hyderabad recently.

These rural BPOs are handling a big chunk of business given to them from Satyam Computer Services Ltd and the Andhra Pradesh government, among other clients, he said.

Graduates are being trained by the Foundation to handle the BPO processes. As of now, they are being paid about Rs 3,500 per month, but this can go up with increase in operations in the days to come, according to P.K. Madhav, Director of the Foundation.

The salary is considerably low compared to what a similar unit has to pay its employees in the city and thus results in significant cost savings.

"About 10 per cent of our staffers are IT professionals who moved back to rural areas after a stint with IT companies in cities. This way, there is a reverse migration which is good for the industry," he added.
The foundation plans to set up 15 rural BPOs as part of its GramIT initiative.

Already, several leading BPO players have branched out to villages, including in neighbouring Tamil Nadu. Besides cutting costs, such rural operations also help companies meet their social obligations.

According to industry pundits, it is only a matter of time before the trend of rural BPOs picks up. There has always been a need in the industry to segmentise high-end work and low-end work and the rural BPOs can easily handle latter, they say.

"Though it is too premature to talk of full-pledged rural BPO revolution, it is a fact that a viable business model exists for the rural BPOs," says a Chief Technology Officer working for an IT major. ó PTI