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Ascent:: Transforming HR Process

Vimali Swamy
Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Vimali Swamy
In May 2007 when business information company Thomson took over Reuters it had a huge challenge of merging the different processes at Reuters with in its own. Of all the process the most tedious was merging the HR and Payroll processes. While Ascent was the vendor for Reuters for Payroll and Benefits; Hewitt Outsourcing in India was the vendor for Thomson. The combined entity Thomson Reuters floated a global RFP for selection of the vendor for the combined entity. And amid stiff competition from vendors in India and abroad, Bangalore based Ascent won this RFP for around 8,000 employee account. The clincher was certainly the quality and flexibility of service coupled with Ascent capabilities of in house application development / management.

Founded in 2002, Ascent specializes in providing small, medium and large companies with all the services surrounding HR and Payroll processes. The company initially started by offering services in Accounting and Book Keeping, Legal and Secretarial Services and Compensation and Benefits administration. But by 2005 Ascent had built a strong domain practice in the compensation & benefits, compliance management, consulting and related HR practices which enabled it to decide on focusing only on these services. Thereby it realigned its focus to services like Payroll and Benefits Administration, HR delivery Systems, HR Consulting Services, Compliance Management and Labour Law Management and discontinued the accounting and book keeping services.

There was a huge gap in the needs of the marketfor HR related product / services depending on the size of an entity. What a large business of 20,000 employees need with regards to H R services may not be applicable to the needs of a small business of 100 employees. There is an abundant opportunity for an appropriate product that can be customized to an individual organization’s requirement. Though there are different companies who have released several products to solve the challenges, there was still a need for a single product that could be customized to every segment as the businesses demand. Clinching this opportunity, Ascent initiated proprietary application development as a practice during the year 2005.

It enlarged its technical team strength and started building its own products for HR delivery. The key business focus however on Payroll & Benefits as a service continued and today Ascent has emerged as one of the leading Payroll and Benefits firm in India and is counted among the top three players on this space.

The current market landscape in the industry is split on the basis of size of the entity. For small businesses, employee headcount is a key parameter and anyone with less than 300 employees prefer product over the service. While the medium and large business handle it as a combination of Product and Service i.e. while the HRIS is an application they would deploy; Payroll & Benefits would be outsourced as a service. There are many companies engaged in the business, however the organized players are few both in India and across the globe except the developed economies such as U.S. / UK. “We are engaged in what we call as People Practice collectively and specifically in HR delivery, HR consulting and HR technology. When an employee is recruited - his on boarding, his performance analysis, payroll details, and everything that has to do with an employee, until separation is managed by us,” explains Subramanyam, CEO, Ascent. The company does this through a combination of services that the client chooses Ascent to provide. In case of small companies, Ascent provides to them its HR solutions that they implement within and the internal HRs manage it all. But in case of medium and large businesses, they mostly have an existing application which already delivers some of these services. Ascent integrates its solution with the companies’ existing HR framework and the client companies outsource a part of the services to them. “Companies outsource a portion of HR work for reasons which include — enhanced HR delivery efficiency, data confidentiality, reduced cost, scalable services, value added services etc... These are typical thoughts that go through the mind of the HR Head when it comes to outsourcing,” explains Subramanyam.

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