Ford Motor Co. has had its share of troubles in its home country, battling a record loss last year, jobs cuts, factory closures and embittered unionists. But in India, it is quietly adding jobs.
Ford’s business processing operation, or the back-end which does everything from processing bills, employee payroll to managing its information technology, now employs about 1,400 people, just shy of the other 2,000 people who help the company make cars in the country.
“We have experienced accelerated growth ranging from 25%-40% in our business services organization in the last few years,” said Stuart Daniels, general manager, Human Resources, Ford India.
Last year, Ford’s business service centre alone added 300 employees, hitting the 1,000-employee mark in December. And that number is set to go up this year, as it will add another 250 employees. Its IT services subsidiary in India has over 150 employees. Provider of IT and engineering services for Ford operations worldwide, its workforce expanded by 80% in 2006.
Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford has culled jobs sharply in the US to limit losses arising from increasing health-care costs for workers in its home country. While it hasn’t shifted any of its US manufacturing to India, what the Chennai-based operations are doing successfully is back-office work. BPO employees in India typically cost less than a quarter of their counterparts in the US.
Located in the same campus as Ford’s car-making operations in Chennai, the back office handles banking, reconciliations, taxation, marketing and sales, purchasing support, internal control and audits— some of the areas the company has gotten into after it was initially launched in November 1998 with 17 employees to provide accounting services for Ford internationally.
Ford employees here provide services like arranging disbursements, providing cash flow and funding information to the head office’s treasury group and performing account reconciliations, thus providing support to almost all Ford businesses in Europe, North and South America, Asia-Pacific and Africa.