Public sector undertakings, long associated with slow bureaucracies and old-fashioned smokestack industries, are changing steadily, and the little-heard-of National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd (NPCC), is set to blaze a new path by foraying into an area hitherto associated with smart, young entrepreneurs.
The state-owned company plans to set up a 500-seat business process outsourcing (BPO) company through a joint venture with an investment of Rs 100 crore to offer project management consultancy exclusively focussed on the construction industry.
Information technology (IT)-enabled services is a broad term used to describe businesses that employ English-speaking knowledge workers based in India to help clients anywhere over telecommunication networks.
While BPO is a term used for services where routine process-oriented work like accounting or call centre operations are involved, KPO (knowledge process outsourcing) is a term used by some to describe work that involves advanced analytical or design skills, such as market research or consulting.
NPCC officials say their company would use both low and high end project management skills, bringing both BPO and KPO type of services within their ambit.
The corporation is scouting for a BPO partner with specialisation in project management. It has identified 15 acres of land that it owns at an industrial park managed by the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation at Hingna near Nagpur.
Arbind Kumar, NPCC's chairman and managing director, told Hindustan Times, “A BPO unit focussed on the construction industry is one of the initiatives that we will take to the board for its approval by February. The target is to identify the partner and set up the project before the end of the financial year 2007-08.”
NPCC is bullish about the project. “We feel there is a huge opportunity to grow at 90 per cent in the BPO project, considering that we have grown by 90 per cent in our core sector,” said Kumar.
NPCC plans to hold a minority stake of 30 to 40 per cent in the joint venture, with a specialist BPO company picking up the remaining stakes. The company plans to hire civil engineers trained in software to undertake queries related to project management, and also offer online support for large projects.
The unit will expand to offer outsourcing services related to infrastructure projects such as those in the power sector by recruiting suitable industry specialists.
Raman Roy, a pioneer in the country's BPO sector, who founded Spectramind, later acquired by Wipro for about $100 million, said construction-related services offered a huge potential for India.
"There is abundant talent available that may need some fine-tuning. We see a huge opportunity for us to co-operate and collaborate to leverage our strengths and theirs for mutual benefit," said Roy, who now runs Quatrro, a BPO/KPO startup.