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Issue of October 2002 
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Case Study Special: TISCO’s ERP implementation
An ERP and a steely resolution

Tata Iron and Steel Company Limited (TISCO) made a steely resolution to remodel itself from a product-driven to a customer-driven enterprise of the Internet economy. It deployed an ERP, SAP R/3 to help its resolution bear fruit, and now enjoys exciting operational and cost benefits. by Bhavish Sood

"Post the introduction of the ERP solution, the results have been terrific. Tisco has spent close to Rs 40 crore on its implementation and has saved Rs 33 crore within a few months," said Ramesh C. Nadrajog, Vice President, Finance. "The manpower cost has reduced from over $200 per ton two years ago, to about $140 per ton in 2000.

The overdue outstanding has been brought down from Rs 5,170 million in 1999 to Rs 4,033 million by June 2000. The inventory carrying cost has drastically deflated from Rs 190 per ton to Rs 155 per ton. To add to this, there have been significant costs savings through management of resources with the implementation of SAP."

Sounds almost Utopian doesn't it? But that's exactly the result of TISCO's ERP implementation completed within eight months. TISCO is Asia's first and India's largest integrated private sector steel company. It has a state-of-the-art 3.5 million tonne steel plant and is capable of meeting the most rigorous demands of its customers worldwide.

In a Nutshell
  • The Company
    TISCO is Asia's first and India's largest integrated private sector steel company. It is present in 46 nationwide locations.
  • The Need
    The company wanted to keep its lead in the competitive steel industry through constant learning, innovation, and refinement of its business operations. It had to transit from a production-driven company to a customer-driven one. The legacy systems had outlived its life and was quite obsolete.
  • The Solution
    An ERP SAP R/3 was deployed in a 'big bang' approach across all its locations nationwide.
  • The Benefits
    The company now has efficient business processes, enhanced customer service, reduced costs, improved productivity, accelerated transaction time, workflow management and reduction in the number of credit management errors. There have also been significant savings in manpower, inventory levels, and resources.

The company adopted ERP technology to take a lead in the competitive steel industry and through constant learning, innovation and refinement of its business operations, has transited seamlessly from a production-driven company to a customer-driven one. The existing technology was a simple replication of the manual system. Not only did it operate as individual islands of information but the technology had outlived its lifetime and was completely obsolete. The employees and management at TISCO faced a cumbersome task exchanging and retrieving information from the system.

Further, the reliability of information obtained was questionable because of inconsistency and duplication of data from different departments. Also there was no built-in integrity check for various data sources. Besides, several times the information against certain items was found missing.

An early response
Responding to changing customer needs started as early as 1991, with a study on cost competitiveness and a formal business plan, followed by ISO 9002 certification and benchmarking initiatives. Realizing the need to further support the re-engineered core processes and quickly align the business processes to radical changes in the market place, TISCO decided to go for a new robust solution.

Design
In 1998-99 a small cross-functional in-house team along with consultants from Arthur D. Little (Strategy Consultants) and IBM Global Services (BPR Consultants) redesigned the two core business processes: Order Generation & Fulfillment and the Marketing Development processes. This was done to improve customer focus, facilitating better credit control, and reduction of stocks.

Choosing the platform and technology
The management at TISCO wanted the software to seamlessly integrate with its existing information system and further provide compatibility with its future implementations. After an in-depth study of functionality, cost, time, compatibility, esteem, operability, support, and future organizational requirements SAP fared on the top of the list of contenders.

The implementation of SAP was associated with certain strategic goals in mind. With this implementation, TISCO wanted to bring forth a culture of continuous learning and change. This would enable TISCO to achieve a world-class status for its products and services and strengthen its leadership position in the industry. Besides this, TISCO also wanted the software to result in quick decision-making, transparency, credibility of data, and improve responsiveness to customers across all areas.

The real challenge
B Muthuraman, MD (Designate), said, "Implementing any ERP system is a challenge for an organization because of the declining success rate of ERP implementations world-wide. At Tata Steel however the real challenge for us did not lie in successfully implementing SAP or in rolling it out to our 46-odd geographic locations across the country under a big bang approach in just eight months. The real challenge lay ahead in building a conducive environment where SAP will be embedded in the hearts and minds of the people and the customers of TISCO."

Mapping technology to business processes
A road map was created to achieve the desired levels of success with ERP. All branches which had huge numbers of transactions and complexity, were identified as 'hubs.' And the smaller branches along with the consignment agents were defined as 'spokes,' which were attached to these branches. In January 1999 TISCO created a team called 'TEAM ASSET', an acronym for Achieve Success through SAP Enabled Transformation.

The TEAM ASSET had two simple axioms:

  • Go-Live date - 1st November 1999
  • There are only 24 hours a day

Preparatory task forces activities were conducted and core business processes were mapped to SAP modules.
A parallel activity called 'Change Management' was initiated within the company. The prime objective of 'Change Management' was to reach out to people involved non-directly in the project to apprise them of the developments taking place.

Tata Steel planned a 'big-bang' approach of going live with all the modules at the same time. Within eight months, on November 01, 1999, Tata Steel pulled off a big bang implementation of all SAP modules at one go across 46 countrywide locations. The deadline was successfully met.

The Result
The introduction of SAP solutions within Tata Steel has led to efficient business processes, enhanced customer service, reduced costs, improved productivity, accelerated transaction time, workflow management and reduction in the number of credit management errors. There have also been significant savings in manpower, inventory levels, and resource management.

TISCO can now update its customers daily and provide seamless services across the country, improving customer management. The availability of online information has facilitated quicker and reliable trend analysis for efficient decision-making. Besides, the streamlined business process reduces the levels of legacy system and also provides consistent business practices across locations and excellent audit trail of all transactions.

"Now I shudder to think how we were functioning so many years without a world-renowned ERP system. Along with the hard times we had, came the rewards of the success of implementation," remarked Mr. K. V. Srinivasan, Member, Team ASSET at TISCO.

Bhavish Sood can be reached at bhavishsood@netscape.net

 
     
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