Monday, February 20, 2006

Outsourcing: 500 Indians for French Orange

As sceptical French companies realise they are losing out on a most lucrative trend, slowly they are reconciling themselves to the fact that if profits are to be made, they have to off-shore / outsource to cut costs. And, several of them are almost there, firming up their plans to off-shore / outsource to India, while CapGemini and Atos Origin clients of Indian firms, are already experiencing the delights of cost reduction and high quality.

And, recently Orange, a French-owned mobile company took the plunge hiring an extra 500-staff in India, in addition to the thousands the company employs in Great Britain, including 5,500 at call centres in Peterlee, North Tyneside and Darlington. But, Orange refused to commit whether it would not recruit more staff in India.

In a sort of test drive, in 2005 the French company hired 200 employees for two of its India-based call centres. Apparently, the success of that initial trial with the Indian BPO firms Convergys and Vertex convinced Orange to increase its Indian workforce to 750. Called upon by the trade union, Amicus to make a full statement about its off-shore working, so that its British employees were clear about the company’s intentions, Orange refused to elaborate on a statement detailing the hiring of new workers in India.

The Orange statement, simply said: “As previously announced, Orange has been working with two companies to assess the feasibility of outsourcing some of its call handling to call centres based in India. This trial came to an end last year and was a success, reaching the projected figure of 750 call handlers by the end of 2005, and handling specific types of calls for Orange pre-pay and contract customers. Orange can’t confirm any future plans regarding the possible expansion of this programme. Orange remains committed to handling the majority of calls through its UK communications centres and will continue to have a significant presence in the North-East and South-West. There are no plans to reduce Orange's UK staffing levels as a result of these developments.”

Mike Hughes, customer service director for Orange, said: “Our main objective is to provide the best service for our customers. Whether, it’s from a call centre in the UK or in India, our main concern is that customers get the levels of service they need and expect from Orange.” The company added that recruitment in its British call centres was ongoing “where and when it is required.”

Davey Hall, Amicus’s regional secretary said: “I believe there is an onus and a responsibility on Orange to divulge to their workforce their exact plans for India, and any impact there will be on jobs in the UK.”

If the sceptical French are being lured into outsourcing to India, after first testing the waters, it is proof positive that the whole venture of outsourcing has immense value for companies who wish to retain quality while reducing costs. The British set the ball rolling for Europe, and it is only a matter of time before other European countries will follow the Brits and the French to the sub-continent to bring back the gleam to the lack lustre performance of their home-based operations. India has once again proven it has what it takes to deliver the goods, even to the most demanding and exacting customer.

For details read here.
The article is sponsored by A-1 Technology Inc, dealing in offshore website development, offshore outsourcing and offshore software development.