PlumSoft has crossed the five year mark, which happens to be a crucial aspect for any startup. Can you share few challenges you faced and how did you go about addressing those?
As a startup venture, PlumSoft had its own share of highs and lows. Truly speaking, there are these two types of startups – one that brings about something that no one has thought about and the other, that which does not really reinvent the wheel but tries to bring in an innovative approach to something that already exists. The former is more difficult to create but once it gets started, there is often unprecedented growth. PlumSoft was just that.
When we started up, cloud solutions and cloud computing technology was a naïve idea and in the Indian market, it was rather ground breaking. Shifting the attitudes of our prospective clients (business heads of various organizations and private companies) from the use of on-premise systems to the use of cloud technology was initially overwhelming. Apart from that, there is this highly rigid structure and bureaucracy that exists in our country creating hurdles for new startups. But yes, the situation isn’t as bad either.
Can you walk us through the ERP implementation you did for the intelligence departments of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and what kind of benefits they are deriving now?
All government employees should go through a background verification once accepted for a job. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh State Police Intelligence Departments were in need of a centralized and automated system that would help streamline the process of background verification of various people and organizations distributed across the states.
In addition, the system would maintain all data pertaining to the candidates selected for jobs by various government organizations. Now as the government have all data in once place it became easy to do an in-depth background check of employees located in different areas.
PlumSoft’s customized application built on the PlumWare platform was implemented by the Telangana and Andhra Pradesh State Police Intelligence Departments. PlumSoft’s solution automated the process of background verification of selected candidates for different government jobs. The solution offered improved accuracy and made the background verification check process easier and less time consuming.
It also enabled real-time visibility into the progress of workloads and eliminated duplication of information by synchronizing data at one place. The solution is highly secure and accessible from anywhere.
When it comes to organizations that have an extremely decentralized structure, don’t you think a seamless installation of an ERP platform becomes a challenge?
Biggest challenge in implementing ERP in a highly decentralized organization is that each department and division will have their own business processes. Getting people to agree on a standard business process across a decentralized organization is an issue.
Even though organizations implement ERPs to bring standardization in business processes and structure, it should be kept in mind that making too many changes to the existing way of doing things is a recipe for ERP failure. If an organization happens to be flexible in its approaches, it should be kept in mind that the ERP system should equally flexible so as to adapt to the organizational needs.
In a decentralized organization, key to success is using a platform that is highly flexible and support multiple business processes. PlumWare Platform, on which PlumERP is built, is designed to give this kind of flexibility to adapt to the needs of distributed organizations.
With inclusion of disruptive technologies like cloud, analytics, mobile and others, how according to you the very concept of an ERP platform changed over the years?
Traditional legacy ERP and enterprise applications were not built for today’s dynamic business environment. They rely on a static and aging data model that was developed more than ten years ago. They are rigid, inflexible, and built with yesterday’s technology.
Customers are forced to make large upfront investments for software, hardware, middleware, database and professional services, and then suffer owing to complex and costly upgrades. Cloud ERP eliminates all the hassles involved in traditional legacy ERP systems, by enabling on-demand business solutions delivered as SaaS in the cloud.
Just like consumers in emerging markets skipped one generation of telephony, the landlines, to move directly to mobile, we believe the businesses in emerging markets will skip the traditional client-server ERP applications and move directly to cloud. Cloud ERP is more affordable, don’t need an army of IT team to maintain it on premise, and accessible anytime or anywhere.
ERP platform changed things by integrating cloud applications into one system that was more easily accessible by all users across the organization through authenticated access. ERP system ensures that the business operations run efficiently without integration and implementation hassles.
What are few best practices in terms of business processes and analytics that should be kept in mind while implementing a cloud based ERP solution?
The most common challenge that we have seen businesses face post ERP implementation on the cloud is the resistance to using new systems. Then, there are issues with inadequate customization, poor planning and time management along with excessive expectations from the system.
While implementing an ERP solution it is important to consider executive sponsorship. Involvement of key executives in ERP implementation is imperative. Communication from senior management and their perception on the tangible and intangible ROI is critical too for the success of ERP implementation.
It is also important to establish success metrics. Success of ERP solution depends largely on how frequently is its performance measured. It is vital to shift focus from investment on the ERP to the ROI that it provides.
Engagement of all key stakeholders from the beginning is crucial. For widespread acceptance of the new ERP system, active involvement of business stakeholders throughout process implementation is essential. The users of the ERP system have to be made comfortable with the application and workflow post implementation.
A key to successful implementation of ERP is to take an iterative and incremental approach by rolling out key modules and features first and incrementally add new functionality based on the needs of the organizations. This incremental approach eases the organization and users to the cloud ERP rather than one big-bang roll-out where the users are overwhelmed.
Also, when it comes to ERP, considerable time, effort and resources should be allocated to train end users.