Automation is affecting BPO jobs in India

Career & Salary

The management of an internationally active medium-sized group made the decision to centralize a large part of the IT services by 2020 and to outsource them to India. The outsourcing should not be carried out by an external company, instead the company founded a subsidiary in India.

The aim was to process first and second level support centrally from India from 2020 onwards. All strategic work, however, will remain in the parent company. The German subsidiary was defined as a pilot and Indian colleagues have been looking after the German employees with IT helpdesk issues since 2016.

In general, it is said: The goal of centralizing and relocating IT support represents a more efficient design of all IT processes from a company perspective. By moving defined IT services to India, the costs for providing on-site support are to be reduced and at the same time high Quality of service will be granted.

In this case, the first thing to do was to clarify how satisfied the users in the German subsidiary were with the IT support. In particular, the topic of relocation to India should be asked. Following this as-is analysis, measures to improve the quality of the IT help desk should be defined and assigned a best practice proposal. And thirdly, they wanted to formulate the previously defined measures into a package of measures. The management provided specific procedures and recommendations for the implementation and implementation of change management.

Response rate of 50 percent

At the beginning of the analysis of the current situation, a qualitative survey was carried out in the company, which made it possible to identify the subject areas of the subsequent quantitative survey. In ten interviews, employees from various hierarchical levels, age groups and areas of the company were asked about their experiences with the IT helpdesk and the changeover. Following the qualitative survey, quantitative data was collected. 171 of the 350 employees took part, which corresponds to a response rate of almost 50 percent.

The quantitative analysis provided information about everyday working life, dealing with the IT helpdesk and the relationship of the respondents to outsourcing. We found that most employees spend the majority of their daily working time on the PC and feel familiar with it. No significant differences were found between the sexes in everyday work in connection with computers. However, there were clear differences when looking at age structures.

60 percent of employees over 50 years of age stated that more than 80 percent of their daily work was done with a computer. This increases with decreasing age, so that in the age group of employees under 30 years of age even more than 85 percent of their working time is spent on the computer. It was also found that over 60 percent of employees contact IT support at least once or twice a month. According to the survey, employees between the ages of 31 and 40 came into contact with the IT helpdesk most frequently. This particularly highlights the relevance of a reliable IT infrastructure and the importance of high quality service in the event of IT problems.

Problematic language barriers

The English language stands out in the quantitative analysis as one of the key points for acceptance and satisfaction with the centralization and service quality. When analyzing the results it could be determined without a doubt that there is a clear language barrier between the German and Indian colleagues. Although many employees stated that they could speak English, it is precisely this foreign language that prevents them from contacting support if problems arise, especially as they get older.

Almost 40 percent of employees over the age of 50 stated that the English language prevented them from contacting IT support. Avoidance strategies such as interviewing colleagues on site or doing your own research on the Internet are the result, which disrupts work processes in German society and incurs avoidable costs. In contrast, there are just nine percent of those under 30 who feel restricted by language in establishing contact, with 60 percent seeing no barrier to themselves in language.

The language barrier also influences satisfaction with the service. The less familiar the company's employees feel with the English language, the more dissatisfied they are with the development of solutions by the IT help desk and the more likely they are to feel that the urgency of their problems is not receiving enough attention. The acceptance for international colleagues also decreases with increasing language barriers, which can be seen in the evaluation of several questions. This is particularly disadvantageous in an international group such as the company examined.

Different work cultures are not an obstacle

On the positive side, it can be said that satisfaction with the general quality of the IT help desk is high, that problems can be solved according to the user's perception, and that everyday work is not seriously disrupted when computer problems arise. Most employees also find it easy to establish contact with support in India, although no tendencies towards preferred communication channels can be derived.

However, in the survey, employees complain that they are unable to emphasize the urgency when problems arise. If processes are too severely impaired in the case of drastic IT problems and this cannot be adequately conveyed to the support, this could have serious consequences for the company.

The survey also revealed that many employees did not feel sufficiently well informed about the changeover of the IT helpdesk that began in 2015 and the resulting centralization of first and second level support in the Indian subsidiary. As a result, the acceptance of colleagues from the Indian subsidiary among employees in Germany tended to be low.

A total of 20 percent of employees cannot even understand the company's right to exist in India. Especially with increasing language barriers and increasing age, the understanding of outsourcing to India decreases. Over 70 percent of employees who feel prevented from making contact by the English language do not see the Indian colleagues as having a right to exist.

In conclusion, it can be said that parallels can be drawn especially in the areas of language difficulties, project management and IT infrastructure. Contrary to expectations, problems in the different work cultures could not be confirmed by the quantitative survey.

The text was created in collaboration with Antonia Luber, Kerstin Lux, Valentin Schneider, Johannes Wensauer and Alexander Wolfsteiner