by Varsha Chidambaram

Down Memory Lane: T.G. Dhandapani, TVS Motor Company

Nov 17, 20132 mins

T.G. Dhandapani, CIO, TVS Motor Company, recalls his first brush with technology way back in the early 80u2019s, and his maiden experience with ERP.

I started off as a user of IT before I became a part of IT. In 1983, I was in finance and I handled the business planning function. The first PC was installed and housed in a cabin generally given to C-level executives and nobody would dare enter the room.  No surprises given that it cost Rs 3.83 lakh, which was a huge sum in at that time.

One of my first assignments was to prepare a project report on a washing machine. The initial work on capital outlay, sales and operating plan, profitability and balance sheet projections, cash flow and fund flow statement, were prepared in that PC spread sheet–this was a generation before Lotus123.  I had to then present this to the business leadership team. After having discussed in length, they wanted some changes to be made. I was told to complete the rework and present the new plan within a week.

However, thanks to the PC, I was able to do the job overnight and presented the same to them with ratio analysis the very next day. Everyone was shocked! In fact, half of them didn’t accept it before manually verifying the data, which took them two days to do. This experience took me closer to information systems.

Eighteen years later, I became a full time employee of IT in 2001. I was leading a big bang ERP implementation project of integrating two companies, three manufacturing plants, 24 sales depots, 200 suppliers and 800 dealers. When the project went live on 23rd August, 2001, the then president of the company, C.P. Raman, was requested to get the first Invoice print out in ERP.  

Raman asked me in front of about 300 people: “Will it work?”. And I replied, “Don’t worry sir, go ahead.” But inside, I was praying with all my heart. The dot matrix printer’s noise, which I generally hate, sounded like Thyagaraja keerthana (in carnatic music, these form a set of songs praising Lord Rama). And when the invoice printed through, I was as thrilled as I was when I first heard my daughter crying. This was one of the “Aha” moments in my life.