CIO Zips Up ERP With Innovative Tricks

by Julia Fernandes    Nov 24, 2004

“Innovation has never come through bureaucracy and hierarchy. It’s always come from individuals.” - John Scully, chairman, Apple Computers

Proving the above truism is Nandu Bhat, general manager-information technology, Zip Telecom Ltd.- pioneers of payphones in the country. In a conversation with CXOtoday, Bhat, who boasts of more than 20 years of expertise in the ERP domain, shared his trial- to-triumph ERP story, achieved through the adoption of innovative approaches.

Reminiscing about how it all began, Bhat first painted the scenario prevailing in the company. Zip Telecom was in the thick of testing and obtaining user feedback on an ERP, which was being developed by GTL. However, things were far from smooth; constant friction and lack of coherent understanding between users and the technical team, plagued the entire process.

Amid this background, Bhat entered the scene. One of his immediate challenges was to gain the right perspective of the entire situation by lending a patient ear to both the users as well as to the technical team. Having accomplished that he then began preparing checklists of the tasks to be done. It was at this stage that he did the impossible. He got the CEO to be personally involved and that did the trick.

The involvement of the highest level of authority ensured that even the CFO and COO too assumed responsibility in the true sense of the word. Each department head became a module leader. Says Bhat, “There were 800 technical errors that were inherited from the ERP, out of which 50% were cosmetic in nature, while 100 to 150 were logical errors. Within two to three months we were able to bring down the errors to 10.”

In a bid to systematically tackle all the ERP problems, Bhat initiated a project called SKIDs (Skills for Killing Issues in Disruption and Services). For data migration, the services of Elar was engaged. After the data was captured and the ERP rolled out, the next headache was downtime and slow access.

According to Bhat, “Many users from Delhi would crib about slow access. To counter this problem we centralized the net access for all locations. A global IP address from Sify with VPN connectivity between the locations solved the issue.”

The next hitch that reared its head was the virus menace, which did impact the generation of some Crystal reports. This was tackled by deploying cost-effective anti-virus solutions such as AvAc and Postmaster from QuantumLink Communications.

Designed in a three-tier architecture, the ERP resides on an Oracle database. While VB has been used for the front end, the reports were prepared in Crystal. Thirty users spread across five locations in India accesses the ERP. At the server level the company uses Windows 2000, while the nodes run on Windows NT.

Zip Telecom Ltd- a subsidiary of Zip Global Network, Mauritius, operates in the telecom, media, retail and Internet sectors. The company is the first (and still the only) independent public access telephony service offered in India.

The above success story validates the view that ERP implementation is more about understanding of processes and the application of this to technology. If only this view is understood by all, it would dispel some of the fears associated with an ERP implementation.

Tags: innovation