Blending ‘aesthetics and chemistry’ Shalimar paints has come a very long way: 113 years in making high performance paints! That’s a huge number to boast of! Every drop of paint creates a charm, a magic. India’s iconic buildings and structures – Salt lake Stadium, Rashtrapati Bhawan and Howrah Bridge, and many others, still continue to be painted with Shalimar Paints.
Interestingly, with the help of high end technology, the company has introduced many firsts in the industrial coatings segments like high build zinc coatings, radiation resistant coatings for nuclear power plants and stunningly was the first company to paint a fighter aircraft for the Indian Army
SHALIMAR PAINTS WRINGING THEIR HANDS IN DISTRESS
“While standing at the dealer’s counter, the sales force was dependent on back-office for reports for the entire sales process—ordering and collection booking, knowing the availability of nearest inventory of paints, reporting of dealer visits, knowing their daily performance. The field sales executive used to call back-office frequently to get information,” says Ashok Ramachandra jade, CIO, Shalimar Paints.
The work being done manually was leading into many errors with loss of time, and impacting sales executive performance. At times, over the phone, the back office was writing the order for a wrong material leading to errors.
The Managers of Sales force was also dependent on IT and Management Information System team for a report to do a review of their team. At the same time, most of the sales representatives on ground were not updated on the sales numbers, inventory availability, and achievement of the team.
That’s not it.
The instant non availability of information to the corporate was also delaying in reviews and decision. For instance, in case of collection booking; the information about cheque collected by the field team was not instantly available to corporate finance team. Subsequently, the CFO was not aware about the exact amount being deposited in the bank.
PATH TO SUCCESS
After a deep thought, a golden idea struck Jade and his IT team: Why not create a mobile application to improve the productivity of the field force?
The planning was done by the IT team and the actual development was given to the vendor for coding and testing. Planning was done around 6 months ago as the IT team created protocols and demonstrated it to the business head and concerned CXOs and Head of Departments.
“We actually started project development in the month of July 15,” says Jade. He even added that within 3 months of development they implemented the application in the north zone and operated for one month. With that experience, necessary corrections were done and implemented all over the country 2 months ago.
So, what are the features of the application? It covers the entire process of order to cash cycle. Masters and Transactional data such as sales and collection targets, actual sales and collection, availability of inventory and the amount outstanding. All data is taken from the ERP.
Interestingly, this data gets synchronized to central server on Manual or Auto mode.
“We have also implemented a forced synchronization process where necessary data is pushed to the central server once in a day for the reporting manager to review,” says Jade.
All said and done, there were few hurdles while implementing the project. The first challenge was chain management. Taking the consensus of the sales people and bringing them on the platform was difficult as many were comfortable with the manual process.
The second obstacle was for the IT team as they had to handle multiple requests from the business team to add new functionalities in the application. To address this issue, “we told the business team that the functionalities with the critical business benefits will be taken into phase one and those with low business benefits in phase two,” says Jade.
The company has gained feet after implementing the mobility solution. When it comes to order booking, at the dealer counter, the sales representatives just open the application, add the dealer’s name and take note if any amount of money is outstanding from the dealer.
Also, with the application the sales people also know the inventory being available at the nearest warehouse. While putting items in the basket, he would know, if there was any discount on the paint along with a scheme. Before the project went live, the field force had to remember all the details.
With great amount of pride and enthusiasm, Jade says, everything is done in real time.
Hold on guys!! There are more benefits!!
As soon as the sales representatives reach the dealer counter, they punch the details immediately. By geo – coordinates they will know which counter they are at and also punch in the feedback from the dealer highlighting his various concerns and also his level of satisfaction.
The sales representatives would also know their daily performance. “On the mobile application itself, they can see their sales target against which how much he has achieved now, his collection target, and his rank. This creates competition,” says Jade
When it comes to finance, as soon as the sales representatives collect the cheque from the dealer, they enter the details into the application like dealer code, cheque number, cheque amount and other bank details. “We have a reporting tool – dashboard—through which the finance team knows the number of cheques being collected. This information is available on real time basis,” says Jade.
Another benefit is RTGS. The sales enter the RTGS reference number in the application by which immediately they will know the amount to be credited into the account.
“The time period at the dealer counter has reduced by 50 percent and the cheque collection information has reduced from 2 days to the same day as information is passed on immediately,” explains Jade.
Finally, what was the role of CIO of Shalimar paints in this project? “In this project my role was towards strategy, review and monitoring. I was connected to business head and the functional heads of departments to understand the scope from their perspective and the kind of end result we are looking from an organization’s point of view,” says Jade.