When Sadhana Somasekhar, director and chief marketing officer, Future Focus Infotech Pvt Ltd, talks about "processing a purchase order for 50 ERP professionals" and committing to a delivery date for "handing them over", it might shock the sensibilities of human rights activists.
Rest assured, Future Focus is not into the slave trade. On the contrary, it is a flexi staffing provider applying the principles of hardware marketing in the sphere of human resources. The company retains around 500 IT professionals who are deputed to meet the short term staffing needs of clients. "Not only is the staffing industry unorganised, many of the recruiters do not have proper systems in place. We wanted to be a process and systems driven company," Somasekhar explains.
After completing her BSc in microbiology and a masters in medical technology in Mumbai, Somasekhar gave up on the life sciences to get into a marketing career selling networking products, computers and software. For a short while, later, she turned into an entrepreneur but once more became an employee. Then, she bought a stake in her boss's company and morphed into a co-promoter. Today, Somasekhar drives the Rs14-crore Future Focus, a staffing company focused on the human resource needs of the rapidly growing IT sector.
"Actually, I studied computers as I thought it would help me in my career in the medical field. But, later, I got into selling computers and from there on to marketing people. I have always loved to interact and deal with people," she explains. Future Focus, she says, has supplied IT professionals to all the top companies in the country like TCS, Infosys, Covansys, IBM, Wipro and others.
Excerpts from an interview:
Aren't you just a body shopper by another name?
We are certainly not just body shoppers. Body shoppers are just human broking companies - matching job seekers' resumes with client's requirements. Future Focus is process driven. We consider the requests from our client-corporates as purchase orders, so that the delivery process can be planned.
Our delivery process is not just matching of resumes. Rather, we function as an extension of our clients' HR departments. We provide our clients a complete profile after a detailed interview and background check of the candidates being sourced through us. We also offer our clients a one-week free trial period. For our deputees we act as a career manager, not just a recruiter.
What is the industry trend these days?
The trend is growth. All the IT companies are engaging temporary staff. Most of them have obtained nearly 30 to 40 per cent of their manpower from staffing companies.
Why has Future Focus restricted its operations to serving just IT companies, that too, only in particular skill segments?
The earnings of staffing companies depend on the salary levels of their deputees. Instead of providing thousands of people in low-paying positions, we decided to focus on positions that pay well - ERP, CRM, SCM, web technologies, mainframe, etc, and that is why our focus is on a few verticals.
What is your revenue model; do you work on a percentage or on a fixed sum basis?
We work on a fixed sum or a pay-in and pay-out model. We pay a fixed sum to our deputees and bill our clients a different sum. The difference takes care of our overheads.
What would be your average billing per head? What is your attrition rate?
Of the Rs14-crore turnover, the staffing division brings in Rs12 crore and the software division Rs2 crore. Dividing the total billings of the staffing division by our 500 deputees would be the simplest way to calculate average billing. But that will not reflect the true position, as 20 per cent of our deputees bring in 80 per cent of our revenues, and the Pareto Principle (also called the 80:20 rule) applies.
Our attrition rate is just 8.5 per cent. To take care of our deputees, we have our own HR department. Every quarter, every branch office conducts an HR programme called 'N-vista', which is attended by all our deputees, to strengthen their ties with the company.
What is your target for this fiscal and how do you plan to actualise it?
Our target for this year is Rs25 crore (Rs17 crore from staffing, Rs2 crore from our US office and Rs6 crore from placements). The plan is to grow organically as well as inorganically. We have an US branch, which will start marketing actively.
We find in that in some companies, nearly 60 per cent of our deputees get absorbed. Last year, we placed around 200 candidates. So we have decided to give a thrust to our placement division. In addition, we have allocated around Rs3 crore for acquisitions. These could be mid-sized staffing companies or placement companies.