Niranjan Bhalivade was a worried man. The frown lines on his forehead got deeper as he hunched over his laptop to read an e-mail from Tamal Saha, SVP, sales and marketing, at CEAT.\u00a0\u00a0The e-mail\u2014marked to the MD and LOB heads of the company\u2014was Bhalivade\u2019s worst nightmare. Saha had written about the company\u2019s snail-paced ERP and how it was beginning to gnaw at CEAT\u2019s profits. As the CIO of the company, Bhalivade wasn\u2019t thrilled. \u00a0\u00a0During the company\u2019s monthly closure, the slow ERP delayed dealer billings. Saha notified that even though they had orders, some of the dealers missed their slab discounts. Discounts are given based on the invoicing done by the dealers. In slab discounts, the off take of particular SKU\u2019s or product categories are important. If the invoicing is not done on time, the dealers will miss the slab numbers and would get less discounts on the product which they could sell in the market. This would result in serious issues with these trade partners and loss of business. And the frontline sales team had to bear the cross.\u00a0\u00a0As he reached the end of the e-mail, Bhalivade slumped heavily on his swivel chair and groaned in frustration. Once again the problem had reared its ugly head. A couple of months back, during the company\u2019s quarterly closing in March, invoice processing, billing, and report execution took a very long time. On an average, over 3,700 invoices were generated in a day. At month end, the number swelled to 7,300. Due to system performance issues it took about 7-10 minutes for a single invoice to get through. And a large number of invoices at monthly and quarterly closures only aggravated the problem. \u00a0\u00a0\u201cThe average daily billing is Rs 14 crore, making every hour critical for business. Hence, the risk of revenue loss increases at the quarter or year end. The sales staff would stay up after hours to complete the billing. Despite that, reports would get ready only the next day,\u201d says Bhalivade. \u00a0And this inefficiency pushed the sales team over the edge.\u00a0\u00a0The tyre manufacturer also ran 148 discount schemes which are executed for 4,000 customers in more than 900 SKUs. The discount execution process took nothing less than 72 hours.\u00a0\u00a0This had a huge impact on business. Even a one hour delay during quarter or year end could lead to losses to the tune of Rs 6-8 crore. Apart from the potential revenue loss, CEAT was losing 775 man days a year. And this was when all the systems were working at 100 percent load.\u00a0As CEAT\u2019s dawdling ERP began to eat into the company\u2019s profits, Bhalivade knew he had to do something\u2014and fast.\u00a0Pedal to the Metal\u00a0A company of CEAT\u2019s calibre hardly needs an introduction. A part of RPG Enterprises, CEAT owns three manufacturing facilities in India. Its Sri Lanka and Bangladesh operations have added 18 percent additional users.\u00a0\u00a0Business was growing at a blistering pace. And IT had to enable business growth to handle the additional 60 percent data volume and 20 percent ERP users. \u00a0At the same time, the business required a high availability and 100 percent uptime with faster processing power. And that solely depended on CEAT\u2019s ERP system.\u00a0\u00a0The tales of the company\u2019s sluggish ERP didn\u2019t really come as a rude shock to Bhalivade. He knew that the system was dragging the company\u2019s business down. Which is why he had already planned and budgeted for a system upgrade project.\u00a0But Saha\u2019s mail set the alarm bell ringing. \u201cWe thought if it has to be done then let\u2019s do it now, the sooner the better,\u201d says Bhalivade.\u00a0But was upgrading server memory really the answer?\u00a0\u00a0For one, it wouldn\u2019t be a self-sustaining move and it wouldn\u2019t shrink the response time. \u201cIf it took seven minutes for the invoice to be generated now, then it would take five minutes after the server upgrade. But the time taken for generating an invoice would not reduce drastically,\u201d says Bhalivade.\u00a0Worse, after six months, it would require another upgrade and that means the company would have to dole out more cash.\u00a0\u00a0That wasn\u2019t Bhalivade\u2019s biggest problem. What he wanted to do was ambitious and bold: Cut down the time to execute reports from seven minutes to 10 seconds.\u00a0It was clear that a mere server memory upgrade wasn\u2019t enough to do the deed. This provoked Bhalivade to look beyond the tried-and-tested. \u00a0\u00a0And that brought him to a fairly new but powerful technology: In-memory ERP. \u201cWe decided to take a big leap and run our ERP from the memory itself. This meant that it doesn\u2019t have to go back to the hard drive, search the data, process it, and then give it back to the user. And this also ensures that all calculations happen on the fly,\u201d he says.\u00a0That\u2019s exactly what CEAT wanted. An excited Bhalivade pulled up his sleeves. It was time to get down to business.\u00a0Picking Up Pace\u00a0Bhalivade wasn\u2019t dispirited by the enormity of the project. In fact, the level of difficulty egged him on to prove his team\u2019s mettle.\u00a0\u00a0That\u2019s why he was undaunted by the fact that he had to migrate 1,000 users to in-memory ERP in just 100 days. Or that the project had to go beyond borders to include users in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.\u00a0\u00a0Bhalivade constituted a 33-strong project team and organized a three-day internal training program. His objective was to shrink the time taken in report execution from seven minutes to 10 seconds. He gave clear instruction to his team not to transport any program that took even 11 seconds in the pre-production system without his approval. It had to be brought down to 10 seconds before it got transported on the new platform. Clearly, Bhalivade did not want to fall short of target.\u00a0\u00a0His team revamped around 480 programs and optimized them on in-memory technology. Before the project went live in January this year, Bhalivade arranged for two major mock drills in December. Planned with military precision, the mock run covered 150 users in India for 90 minutes. The drill threw up a lot of glitches which were resolved within a week.\u00a0\u00a0The migration was executed in 52 hours. Bhalivade wanted it to be a seamless transition for business so he undertook the migration on Friday evening after the system shut down. He expected to accomplish the task by 11.30 am on Monday. However, he completed it by 7 am. The project had a tight timeline of 100 days but it was completed a day before the deadline.\u00a0The new technology platform is well equipped to process large data volumes. Its enhanced capacity helped CEAT address its ERP performance issues by resolving the problem of slow computing and data presentation. It provides a strong IT support and scale for the company\u2019s rapid growth and business development.\u00a0\u00a0The benefits of the project outweigh the cost. Earlier the company had six-seven racks of servers. With the new technology the entire ERP has come down to just one server.\u00a0The company has realized considerable savings in power and datacenter costs. \u201cOne of the direct benefits of the project is that we have saved 60 percent power and datacenter cost. \u00a0We pre-empted that the ROI of the project would be achieved in 18 months but within six months the project justified the investment,\u201d he claims.\u00a0\u00a0Efficiency has been increased to the tune of 50 percent because of the faster ERP. Invoicing time reduced from seven minutes to 10 seconds with all possible and required controls, locks, and validations. There are no deviations in performance even in peak seasons or quarter end transactional rush.\u00a0\u00a0\u201cAfter going live, we introduced our first round of discounts. Earlier it took us 72 hours to execute the process. \u00a0But we were able to complete the discounts along with credit notes within 10 minutes,\u201d shares Bhalivade. The CFAs and territory leaders no longer have to put in extra hours. So their work-life balance has also improved.\u00a0And as CEAT drives on the fast lane, Bhalivade is a happy man. \u00a0 \u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Sneha Jha is special correspondent. Send feedback on this feature to firstname.lastname@example.org\nEarlier, it took us 72 hours to execute the discount process. With in-memory, we are able to complete it within 10 minutes.