IT Driving A Shift From Cost Cutting To Raising Productivity

by Sundar Ramachandran Vice President - IT, Punj Lloyd

Headquartered in Gurgaon, Punj Lloyd (NSE: PUNJLLOYD, BSE: 532693) is an engineering and construction group of India providing integrated design, procurement and project management services for energy and infrastructure sector projects.

Productivity drives growth in the economy and in a company’s market value. The shift from a focus on cost cutting to raising productivity is a critical transition in any industry today.

Information Technology has a central role to play in increasing productivity because it is a source of information, communications, collaboration and management. Typically, IT resources are available but not consumed to their potential or not used up in business activities. IT can automate processes and activities thereby utilizing the resource constrained people for better work. Simple things like an MIS report to be made available to management for their morning meetings can be automated or can be made available in real time even on their devices today. IT solutions can accelerate cycle time for internal processes by improving coordination and workflow.

As a recent survey by Computer World showed, IT will take on an increasingly important role in growing revenue, profitability, enhancing competitiveness and getting to know customers. Of these, growing revenue is predicted to be where IT senior management leads line-of-business leaders. 

The following graphic provides a comparison of the business priorities for the IT department in the next 12 months:

Cloud computing is the single most important initiative today, whether it is moving mailing solutions to cloud or DR solutions on the cloud or even in some cases the entire ERP on the cloud. With cloud providers offering competitively priced solutions and now proven their reliability, performance, and scalability to the cloud, there’s been a critical mass movement to cloud technologies.

Security - This covers everything from risk assessment and governance to security frameworks, data protection, training and awareness, and mitigating insider threats. As such, enterprises are continuing to implement endpoint management solutions, but a shift this year is moving away from the lockdown management of endpoints to the enablement of endpoints as valuable end-user devices. Organizations are no longer blocking access to content, but working to contain and protect sensitive business information, effectively providing employees the access to information that they want and need to access in a safe and secure manner.

Experiment, Experiment, Experiment: Innovation requires experimentation, and there is still a lot of learning to do. Learning is about finding ideas and opportunities that you can put into proof-of-concept projects that you can pilot and drive meaningful measurement and feedback. Companies must look at cross-company co-innovation days, setting aside a separate budget for innovation that isn't lumped in with (and liable to get raided for) day-to-day budgetary needs. One will need to innovate efficiently and come up with a way to easily decide whether POCs are high opportunity or low opportunity, and high complexity or low complexity.

The idea is obviously to take on high-opportunity, low-complexity projects first, and put low-opportunity, high-complexity ideas last on the list. It's an easy way to set innovation pipeline priorities.

We have moved lots of our internal processes from excel/email based reports to simple applications with built in workflow capabilities, that can serve as central repository of data and have appropriate approvals built in.

At Punj Lloyd, as we look at the future, lots of interesting challenges lie ahead for the organization in the coming year; from the new Ind AS (Revised Accounting Standards) and ICDS (Income Computation & Disclosure Standard) from reporting perspective to GST, to looking at way of expanding IT to various projects around the world. In addition to this is the re-implementation of ERP and setting up of a global HCM solution. We have a unique challenge in the EPC industry, where our project sites are in remote locations and in some cases the sites are on a new location on a day to day basis (laying of pipeline). In this scenario, we need to have ways and means of tracking our resources (both human and equipment). That in itself calls for a Mobile solution which we are exploring.

Any ERP solution is not going to be an out of the box fitment for any company. There will be a need for certain amount of customizations to suit the business needs. Our objective this year is to meet the business needs and regulatory compliances as stated above, but still see how much of the standard functionalities of the product can be used and therefore minimising the customization effort.

With Punj Lloyd’s projects extending to 23 countries world-wide, our re-implementation will focus on country specific taxations along with the regulatory compliances of each country. In our kind of an industry, there is a very strong need to integrate the actual work done at the project site to the billing milestones and also effectively monitor the budget vs actual. Integration will play a major role during our re-implementation of our ERP. Data migration in itself is going to be another big challenge as we look at the need for migrating historical data to the new environment.

As hardware and software reach EOL, there is a need to refresh them. Be it Win server 2003 reaching EOL or some of our old storage boxes reaching EOL, we are exploring means of refreshing them in a cost effective manner including looking at options to move them to the Cloud.