Consumer Products Limited wanted to extract more value
out of the well-formatted ERP data it had collected
over the years. It implemented data warehousing and
OLAP tools and applications to mine additional benefits
and also paved the path for future e-commerce initiatives.
by Soutiman Das Gupta
1995 Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) decided
to implement MFG/PRO, an ERP package from QAD Inc. Since
its complete roll-out the company experienced numerous
benefits. Inventory levels reduced, workflow processes
standardized, business processes were more disciplined,
manpower was better planned, and product cost information
could be viewed instantly.
The use of the ERP also ensured that data was generated
in a consistent and structured format which could be
easily archived. This invaluable data was lying idle
unless required for an ERP query or statistic. "We
devised a way to extract the most out of this critical
data. We decided to implement data warehousing applications
and functions," said Mani B. Mulki, General Manager,
Information Systems, Godrej Industries Limited.
After the creation of the data warehouse the company
has been able to reap a number of benefits. It performs
jobs like contribution analyses, profit and loss analyses,
and sales breakup analyses. These help enhance product
lines, build greater customization, and favorably impact
the bottom line. This combination of ERP and data warehousing
applications has also paved a future path for GCPL's
Godrej Consumer Products Limited is the flagship
company of the Mumbai-based Godrej Group. The
company manufactures consumer products like
soaps, detergents, and hair care solutions.
The group has 18 factories and 120 locations
all over India.
A lot of ERP data in a standardized format was
lying idle in the company's servers. It would
be a good idea to use the data for other intelligent
applications that can enhance business productivity.
The company decided to implement data warehousing
applications and functions to help extract maximum
usefulness from the data. A range of tools from
Oracle were used to make this possible.
The company now can perform a number of contribution
analyses, profit and loss analyses, and sales
breakup analyses from the data in its warehouse.
This has given it competitive advantage and
the ability to manage resources better. The
applications have also paved way for future
on image for larger view
warehouse is born
The entire ERP roll-out in 120 Godrej group companies
and locations was complete in 25 months. And GCPL's
employees now depend heavily on the ERP for their daily
operations. Vital data is collected and collated to
the company's benefit. Since there's a lot of formatted
standardized data in the system, it makes good business
sense to use it to the company's benefit.
"The large amount of data was virtually jailed,
and could have many potential productive uses,"
said Mani. GCPL decided to use data warehousing tools
from Oracle to accomplish the task. The range of data
warehousing products includes Oracle Express Server
and the OLAP (OnLine Analytical Processing) client.
The system serves as a decision support platform based
on historical sales and cost pattern analysis. The data
warehousing suite of products cost around Rs 10 lakh.
An RDBMS from Progress Software was implemented at the
backend to support the ERP functionality. The company
evaluated Oracle as well as Progress and settled on
Progress because it was a more robust solution at that
The ERP and warehousing applications are not linked
online. Data is extracted from the ERP system with the
help of extract routines and uploaded into an Oracle
warehouse with the help of upload routines once at the
end of every month. This creates a separate undisturbed
database in the warehouse. This data is now routinely
processed for a few days and results derived from it.
The OLAP draws from the collected database and performs
analysis, calculation, and recalculation to support
what-if scenarios and other strategy-setting aides.
The Express Server uses a caching scheme to store, manage,
and analyze relational data.
Data warehousing tools are mostly used for analysis
and trends that allow the company to create short- and
long-term strategies and business problem solutions.
To explain this let us look at an example. A particular
product is manufactured in different factories of the
company at different locations. Ordinary reports will
give you the amount of sales that the product has made
(product-wise contribution) and the amount of profit
that a particular customer has generated for the company
(customer-wise contribution). With data warehousing
applications you can calculate the profit contribution
of each factory for the same product and compare the
efficiency of different factories. As a result you can
perhaps divert more production activity to the better
"You can view interesting trends in sales and costs.
And if you like, you can integrate the findings from
standard reports and the warehouse analyses to create
strategic advances. The limit of the capabilities of
a warehouse is bound by the creativity of the end-user,"
The company can load data like sales figures of goods
from the factory to the distributors (primary sales),
from distributors to retailers (secondary sales), and
from retailers to end-users into a common database in
the warehouse. The data warehouse can now allow you
to derive sales and inventory trends.
Suppose primary sales have increased over a period of
time and secondary sales have decreased. This can lead
to 'dumping' or excess inventory. The trend analysis
can thus help avoid a situation like this and maintain
a consistent flow of inventory.
In July 2001 the management at Godrej decided to implement
an e-commerce solution to manage the supply chain better
and an e-CRM package to foster better ties with its
distributors. After going though a long list of vendors
and consultants, Godrej selected BroadVision as the
provider and Satyam Infoway as the implementer of the
"We will set up inventory norms for all the products
at the distributor level and our systems will interact
with systems at the distributor's end. This will allow
us to extract figures like the closing stock and factory
dispatch volumes. The system can now make suggestions
like the amount of inventory to order next week and
the minimum inventory to maintain," said Mani.
The CIO perspective
"You need to have a mature group of users who understand
and appreciate the value of warehousing tools. The habit
has to be cultivated. ERP can be forcefully injected
into a system and you cannot survive without it today.
But data warehousing cannot be injected by force. It
has to be accompanied with a lot of education to the
end user. A user should have the capability to extract
useful business intelligence from the warehouse. Thankfully,
the personnel in my company are very IT-savvy and have
been able to embrace the warehouse initiative rather
well," said Mani.
The company had started the warehouse implementation
around three years ago. Its usage has recently picked
up and may emerge as a driving factor for business in
the near future. There are plans to allow access to
the warehouse on the Web.
The mindset hurdle
There were no technology hurdles in implementing the
system. The real hurdle was to change the cultural mindset
of the users. Users had to be trained and motivated
to use the solutions till they realized its actual benefits.
And now the benefits are showing and the people are
happy. "A good approach is to make IT projects
more driven by users than IT Heads," suggested
Soutiman Das Gupta can be reached at