IMS People CEO interviewed – Amit Somaiya with Steve – Part 1
Amit Somaiya is co-founder and CEO of IMS People, a part of the highly regarded Empresaria Group plc UK. Amit discusses the Do’s and Don’ts of outsourcing, what it’s like to build up businesses including dealing with failure, and personal attitudes and philosophies that got him where he is today.
This first one focuses on: 1. What was the first business you started? 2. What were the steps you took through to setting up IMS? 3. background on the IMS model? 4. Summary of the core IMS services 5. How do you provide a high level of service given the physical disadvantages of outsourcing? Part 2 will provide a background of outsourced processes.
Steve: Thank you very much for taking the time out to talk to me today. We’ll through various areas of outsourcing, the markets in India and of course, what IMS do.
First of all, would you like to give some background on yourself?
Amit: I’m a Chartered Accountant, I’ve always been in love with numbers. I did my chartered accountancy, went on to do my MBA, and then started working originally with Mobil-Exxon in the oil and gas sector. But I believe I was just meant to get inside business. I come from a particular culture and in our region we just go after business.
That’s the state of Gujarat, where I come from back in India. So Gujaratis are traders, they are business people. When I started working, I always was fascinated to start my own business. While working with Mobil, I was not really happy. A 9 to 5 job is something I was not meant to be doing, that’s what I said to myself. I worked there for 2 years but after that I said: Enough of this. Let me come back to India and let me venture out and do something on my own. That’s how my journey started.
Steve: So what was the first business you started?
Amit: The first business I started was actually a telemarketing agency. We used to sell credit, it was something which Indians generally frown upon. That time, a lot of foreign banks came inside the country, the country was opening up, there was a lot of investments coming in. And the credit card industry was coming off, launching itself. So my first business was actually selling credit cards in the city where I stay in, Ahmedabad. That was where the original business was.
Steve: How did that evolve into IMS? What were the steps that took you to setting up IMS?
Amit: IMS was born way back in 2006. And the journey between 2001 to 2006 … I went into software development for some time, after that developing software solutions, went into training businesses, I used to do training for telecommunication companies, and also went into accounts outsourcing for a certain period of time with some other partners.
IMS came about 2005-2006. We had a startup idea, we discussed it with Empressaria at that time, Miles Hunt, and then the rest has been history. We came together. Initially started off with a domestic recruitment business – we regenerated ourselves into an offshore recruitment business.
Steve: Could you give me some background on the IMS model?
Amit: Today, IMS is predominantly in the offshore recruitment space. And when I say offshore recruitment – we work for recruitment and staffing firms in the western markets and we help these recruitment and staffing businesses by bringing efficiency inside their business. So we come in, we understand their processes, we re-engineer those processes. We take certain portion of those processes back to India, and have them executed in an offshore environment, help them to bring down their cost which improves their bottom-line, their margin, helps them streamline their functions back onshore, so their consultants are able to focus on the core items in their business.
Steve: And the core services you offer?
Amit: Initially, we started off with transactional activities – it was simple stuff, CV formatting, database management, but in the last 10 years, we have evolved our service offerings to become knowledge partners to recruitment and staffing firms wherein we do the entire 360 degrees. We also added back office functions of late, so we come in and understand their accounts, their payroll, and we also take that piece and outsource it back in India. So the service offering today is very bright.
Steve: But the essence would be that as a Recruitment Agency you have a consultant you’ve trained and developed to be making placements, finding new clients and by outsourcing to yourselves, you can free up that consultants’ time so they can focus more on this core activity.
Amit: If you go across to understand the core of recruitment businesses 20 years ago, it was their database, it was their relationship with their candidates and their clients. But with the internet, databases becoming all pervasive providing access to all the information at any point in time. That advantage has now been sort of taken away from the recruitment companies. So today, the core advantage that the recruitment companies can leverage is their business development, their relationship with their end customers, and clients. The rest is all transactional in nature because you can source candidates from the internet, from job boards, through research, through company mapping – all of that functions can be done offshore, can be done in an outsourced environment. So we enable the the recruitment companies to do more strategic stuff – the rest of the work is, I believe, better off outsourced.
Steve: How do you provide the right level of service with the physical disadvantages of outsourcing?
Amit: There are two elements to it. One is managing the expectations of the recruitment companies as to what can possibly be delivered offshore and second is, while you manage those expectations, we keep on growing the deliverables over a period of time so they continue to get the ROI. So the first and foremost steps towards ensuring this is taking a look at the existing production data of our clients. For example, a recruitment company would like a particular piece of their process to be outsourced, let’s say the sourcing of candidates. The first step is understanding what is their internal production data, how they do it today, how successful they are, what is the productivity of their consultants etc. Once we get an understanding about those productivity levels, we try to re-work, re-engineer to the best possible levels that can be achieved if that piece of work is done India.
Steve: So you first define the base level KPIs with the client business?
Amit: We define the base level KPIs on their existing production data. Having serviced more that a hundred and thirty recruitment and staffing brands across various sectors, we also have industry averages which we map up against and try to understand whether those levels are sustainable, whether they are realistic or we can actually do more than what the clients really want us to do and thats how we setup those SLAs. Those SLAs become an integral part of the contract. We track them on a day-to-day, week-to-week basis, we supply our clients with reports, we have review meetings along with the production data – and then we have open conversations, transparent conversations with our clients on the service experience.