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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

June - 2009 - issue > Cover Feature

Embarking on SaaS to Empower SMEs

Saheer Karimbayil
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Saheer Karimbayil
Herbert Spencer’s theory ‘Survival of the Fittest’ is now more applicable to IT companies in India that specialize in HR solutions. Companies increasingly stepping into this space are also triggering a stiff competition among themselves to innovate and sell, by breaking all the conventional concepts of HR.

The Mumbai-based Fluous Solutions is making fast strides in the HR industry with its offering—PowerApps, a solution that enhances the compass of an HR tool from a mere administration facilitator to a solution which enables the comprehensive management of the total employees on a real-time basis. As the company’s founder Kanchan Kumar says, “PowerApps is not merely an HR tool but rather a workforce management tool. The application encourages self service among employees on many HR administration processes and thus saves a huge amount of time for the HR people who otherwise spend over 80 percent of their time on transactional processes.” Even CEOs and other decision makers can use the application for day-to-day transactional tasks like approving the leave applications filed by employees on a real time basis – while keeping an eye on the overall organization health by the way of executive dashboard. “PowerApps is not just for HR people, but for the entire organization. A complete employee lifecycle management application, it changes the role of HR staff in the company to that of facilitators of the transactional processes and thus helping them spend more time on strategic HR – areas such as people development and performance management,” explains Kumar. This six-year-old product also has various other integrated services such as payroll, employee benefits, travel, leave, time and attendance as separate modules.

Enterprise edition of PowerApps is an ideal solution for large enterprises that have an employee strength varying from 10,000 to 40,000, whereas the standard edition suits smaller organizations better. Fluous Solutions, founded in 2002, today boasts of more than 100 customers including several large enterprises like Ford, ITC, L&T, Bank of Baroda and Murugappa Group. Having established its footprint in the large enterprise segment, the company has now started tapping the growing base of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the country. Fluous has estimated that over three lakh companies in India including SMEs require various level of HR facilitation. But a major hurdle the company faces while approaching SMEs is their concern towards investment on a solution such as this and high gestation period for getting the system up and running. Observing the fluctuation in the mindset of an SME while making a huge investment at once for a solution such as this, Kumar now offers the product on a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. SMEs/SMBs can choose monthly subscription payments instead of going for high value upfront investments.

The company has also introduced the concept of doorstep service in the SaaS space. Kumar thinks that though SaaS is essentially a web based application delivery, SMEs are more comfortable with physical presence for service delivery. And to cater to this mindset of many SMEs, the company has partnered with some HR and payroll outsourcing organizations, where they would use PowerApps to provide outsourced payroll or HR services to their clients for a monthly fee. Aiming at increasing its customer base significantly in the SaaS HR space by the end of Q2 next fiscal, Fluous’ wants to become an agile partner of SMEs in India in the HR solution space. Kumar believes that things like SMS based alerts and micro transactions are some of the facilities that would make life easier for the SMEs.

Developed by using Ajax techniques, PowerApps can be accessed via a browser, where one can access the application on his or her desktop, which needs no client component or configuration to make use of the product. Therefore, one needs not be at his desktop to do transaction on this product, and instead, he or she can access the product from any part of the world. However in India, HR solution providers are multiplying by the day. And Fluous, with a team of 40 clearly knows that the race has just begun, and that any distraction from the focus will cost a lot as it does not want to be among the also-rans in this intense competition for the market share.

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