Ascent Consulting Services: Passionate Trailblazers of a Tech-Integrated Global HRO Services

ascent consulting service
Subramanyam S | the Founder | President | and CEO | Geeta L | the Co-founder | Chief Operating Officer (COO) | Ascent Consulting Services (AscentHR™)

As globalisation erased the operational boundaries of organisations, advancements in technology paved the way for corporations to go global and proliferate the way they have today. Digitalisation enabled millions of employees in global corporations to collaborate seamlessly and helped their organisations to expand reach and scope exponentially, making them truly Multi-National Corporations.

With the addition of significantly more elements, the global matrix of intricacies became much more complicated as a result of enhanced size. Because of the recent pandemic, organisations were forced to adopt a remote or work-from-anywhere culture. For businesses to continue to make a positive impact on their balance sheets despite these intricacies and the dynamic nature of work cultures, they must adopt an employee-centric and technological approach as an enabler with renewed vigour and focus on ‘human’ resources.

They can no longer rely on the traditional way of doing HR things. HR strategies must be on point and dynamic. They must also be rolled out in a flash. Organisations, large and small, lean heavily on comprehensive HR solutions providers to manage their HR processes and provide a superior employee experience.

Ascent Consulting Services emerged as a leader and is at the forefront of providing a comprehensive HR solutions offering cloud-based HCM, payroll as managed services and related compliance, corporate compliance management, employee experience, and employee wellness services and solutions. Thanks to the company’s in-depth knowledge of how technology, domain expertise, market intelligence, and innovation can be leveraged to produce unmatched value and employee experience. Subramanyam S, Founder, President & CEO, and Geeta L, Co-founder & COO, established the firm in Bangalore in 2002.

Subramanyam brings an impressive grasp of all the aspects of business growth and operations. His vast working knowledge of Corporate Law, Treasury Management, Business Policy, and Business Outsourcing regulations make him an apt leader. On the other hand, Geeta brings her Cost Accounting, Taxation, Audit, and Management Accounting competencies to her role as the Chief Operating Officer (COO).

Subramanyam and Geeta are supported by a team of executives drawn across different organisational functions. These executives are all leaders in their spheres with decades of experience honing the successful delivery of services. These executives help the company meet its strategic, financial, and operational goals by following its core values –  Adaptability, Accountability & Accuracy – as the guiding principles upon which the organisation was founded.

The Metrics of Excellence

Adding to the company’s strong leadership expertise, Subramanyam shares, “We have been at the forefront in all the metrics that matter revenue generation, Volume of Transaction (VoT) and Gross Processing Value (GPV), presence across geographies, mature delivery eco-system with tech enablement to support service delivery process, client retention, domain-specific recognitions, customer testimonials and referrals, and Pro-Active Compliances Enablement.”

To broaden its services footprint from business consulting to delivering superior Employee Experience (EX) services, AscentHR is focusing on evolving its strategies to support the rapidly changing dynamics of HCM. The company is leveraging its existing client relationships to cross-sell additional lines of services related to employee financial wellness and services, travel and expense (T&E) management, vendor management, digital learning services, employee mood assessments, and analytics.

Geeta adds, “With a growing network of global clients availing our end-to-end HRO services, we continue to build on our current market position by leveraging our service capabilities, globally distributed delivery centres, and strategic geo-partners in the emerging markets.”

AscentHR’s conviction at all levels for service excellence and meticulous delivery has ensured that the company has carved a niche reputation for itself as an entity that businesses can rely on, even during unprecedented crises.

Innovations Infinitum

Recognised by leading TPAs as a leader and a major player in the HCM and HR market segments, AscentHR provides comprehensive HR Outsourcing services, including,

  • HR consulting, tech-enabled and data-driven Employee-Lifecycle management.
  • Managed Payroll Services and related compliances (MCPO)
  • Flexi-Staffing Models and Vendor management.
  • SaaS-enabled Multi-process Human Resources Outsourcing (MPHRO)
  • Compliance management services catering to clients’ regulatory, industry-specific, internal, and contractual compliance requirements.
  • Employee Experience and engagement enablers.
  • Travel and expense management services.
  • Digital learning and upskilling solutions facilitated through AscentHR Academy.
  • End-to-end financial management services and employee financial wellness.

To further strengthen its market position and expand its presence, AscentHR recently acquired a few niche and technologically rich companies. One of the recent acquisitions includes Bangalore-based FinTech company – Jofin, a financial wellness platform. Subramanyam is currently overseeing the integration process.

He says, “Addressing employee financial wellness is critical for managing and getting the desired outcome from the workforce. A solution like Jofin will benefit employers and employees in today’s post-pandemic world. This acquisition will help us to uniquely position AscentHR brand with our clients, strengthen our business relationships, and help employers stand out from the crowd all at the same time. We are currently integrating the people and Jofin’s unique features and functionalities into AscentHR’s platform, enhancing our service portfolio. With the rebound happening in business travel, we are also prepared to meet our clients’ T&E business requirements at an affordable initial price point.

Today, AscentHR provides services for a wide range of clients from industry segments such as BFSI, IT/ITES, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, media, pharma, logistics, and eCommerce, delivering tangible benefits to organisations and their employees. The company’s services portfolio brings robust and customised solutions to their clients, taking into account the market and geographical context.

Advanced Tech Quantum

Being experienced leaders, Subramanyam and Geeta come with a conviction of adopting modern technologies like AI and ML to be able to deliver the ‘future of work’ requirement seamlessly. Subramanyam believes that AI and ML will revolutionise HR and Payroll Management in the coming days and deliver improved productivity outcomes. Payroll processing often involves dealing with large amounts of data at regular and designated intervals. Adopting these advanced technologies can enable faster data processing in real-time, paving the way for more opportunities to achieve efficiency and accuracy through advanced analytics.

The need for cloud-based solutions with capabilities that enable digital transformation, support the ‘future of work‘, and align HR capabilities with the overall digital transformation strategy is there and will continue to be there. There is also a growing emphasis on employee engagement and holistic well-being.

There is also a shift in how work is conducted; hierarchical structures are being replaced with flat and agile teams, hybrid engagement models, collaborative environments, and support capabilities for gig workers. Business growth and expansion into new geographies require flexible and scalable HR and payroll solutions. Analytics enabling insights into the HR operations, driven by AI, ML, and NLP capabilities to deliver informed decisions, is a big ask. HR function today is, by and large, becoming data-driven. HR data analytics is used for decision-making and driving business success with critical insights derived from data analysis. Time and again, these shifts prove that AI and ML have significant implications for people practices. Companies falling behind in analysing their HR data are at the risk of losing a competitive edge. “As the scope of HR challenges widens, we foresee that technology and automation will assume increasingly high importance,” he says.

Adding to his optimism, Geeta says, “That is why we believe in the promise of new technologies. We strategically earmark our investment to the tune of 15% of our revenues for R&D efforts.” Their Innovation Lab represents their courage to deliberately step out of their comfort zone and enable customers to achieve a holistic Digital HR Transformation. The goal of their Innovation Lab is to infuse AI and analytics into solutions, and explore the use of emerging capabilities of technology to address HR and payroll challenges and enable transformation.

Optimum Outsmarting of Obstacles

Nevertheless, considering the current industry scenario, Subramanyam reveals that challenges keep showing up in every business, and it is imperative for the company to work relentlessly and ensure deliverables & outcomes. Dealing with the uncertainties brought on by the pandemic was the initial challenge, and more or less, it affected everyone.

He insists, “However, our processes are crafted carefully to help us adapt to unforeseen circumstances and deal with the challenges at hand. This was proved to us when the systems in place allowed us to work remotely for several months when a pandemic-related lockdown was announced suddenly. Our internal governance, risk management, and compliance (GRC) policy cover us in the day-to-day operations and also give us confidence and clarity for future plans. Our specific interpretations of government notifications that we send to our clients as Legal Alerts (i.e. compliance-related updates) enable customers to be proactively compliant. These strategies give us the bandwidth to evolve and meet the challenges head-on.”

According to Geeta, even during challenging circumstances such as the pandemic, when regulations underwent multiple changes, they stayed on course by tapping into their appetite for innovation and relentless investment in upgrades and employee up-skilling. “Overall, the pandemic reaffirmed us to be agile, adaptable, and resilient. It’s a trial by fire that will burnish survivors and improve the way we do business,” she expresses.

Subramanyam adds that aligning the workforce to the organisation’s goals and motivating them to perform optimally are a couple of their current challenges. “To equip our employees to stay productive and be high on mental wellness, we realise that they need a balanced and empathetic work environment. We pay heed to employee sentiments. Our work culture is one of flexibility, empathy, and outcome-driven recognitions,” he informs. These insights help in succession planning and maturity assessment for the workforce in the long term.

The Wisdom Spectrum

In their advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the HR and Payroll Management Solution space, Subramanyam says that entrepreneurship is all about doing something new and innovative. “I advise budding entrepreneurs to look for innovative ideas that make a real difference to the customer without compromising quality.”

Adding onto it, Geeta says, “Once you find your calling, continue to gain momentum without losing your drive till you get the initial breakthrough. The endeavour can be challenging yet rewarding.”

On envisioning scaling AscentHR’s operations and its offerings in the future, Subramanyam recalls that AscentHR began its corporate journey in 2002 with just ten employees and with a few customers, scaling up the operations steadily over the years. “We have made a name in the market, delivering over one million transactions per month, for over 550 customers, with a substantial gross processing value and capabilities across multiple countries and regions,” he divulges. The inspiring force is the intent to facilitate client organisations in nurturing their human capital.

Powering People Practice

Subramanyam is optimistic about scaling new heights by meeting the needs of diverse buyers up and down the market by enabling and launching new cloud-based offerings, including a DIY offering targeted start-ups and SMBs with less than 100 employees, providing them with a prebuilt, bundled solution. He says, “We enable our customers to create inclusive workplace policies, offer meaningful opportunities for employee engagement, develop or amend workplace policies to be diversity-friendly, from hiring practices to performance reviews, promotions, and benefits, manage multiple engagement models, tap into the gig category of talent and effectively manage vendors.”

AscentHR will continue to Power People Practices with a clear plan to enter new geographies; and their growth ambition in terms of delivering value to their customers will be fuelled by:

  • Continuous leveraging of technology (Deep learning algorithms, dialogue and conversation enablement)
  • Investment and research into cognitive platforms
  • Strengthening of the knowledge repository

In addition to this, Subramanyam says they give importance to maintaining the fun quotient at work yet keeping things professional. With employee engagement initiatives such as “Fun Fridays,” volunteering activities, R&R policies, indoor and outdoor sports activities, and employee-friendly policies, the company endeavours to engage and retain talent. Besides these initiatives, they also have a structured internship program called “Begin Your Ascent” to help their internship candidates to experience the corporate world. “Ensuring that we continue to be the preferred employer will be our goal on the employee front, and we implement every little measure to ensure the same,” concludes Subramanyam.

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