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ELECTRIFYING PERFORMANCE GUVNL and its six subsidiaries embarked on mechanization and computerization of some of the core activities, resulting in the e-Urja project which helped the utility company innovate and effectively serve its customers.

PLUS INTERVIEW Mukul Jain, Sr. Vice President & Head - IT, DLF Pramerica talks about the merits and the downside of sticking to one industry vertical .


Company Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) Industry Public Power Utility Offering Power Generation, Transmission & Distribution in Gujarat.

ELECTRIFYING PERFORMANCE GUVNL and its six subsidiaries embarked on mechanization and computerization of some of the core activities, resulting in the e-Urja project which helped the utility company innovate and effectively serve its customers.



he Gujarat Electricity Board was a stateowned power utility of Gujarat state. It served 55 million people in a geographical spread of 196,024 In the wake of reforms in the power sector, the monolithic organization was unbundled into seven consumer-responsive and market-competitive entities in 2005 - across the power utility value chain. This included a power generation company, GSECL, with 9 power stations and an installed capacity of approximately 5000 MW (the total generation capacity grew from 200 MW in 2005-06 to 1185 MW in 2007-08), a transmission company, GETCO, with approximately 800 sub-stations and line length of about 33,279 km and four distribution companies (DISCOMs), with a consumer base of nearly one crore. Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Ltd (GUVNL) became the holding company and is responsible for bulk purchase and sale of electricity, supervision, co-ordination and facilitation of the activities of its six subsidiary companies. With the conclusion of the unbundling process, GUVNL and its six subsidiaries embarked on mechanization and computerization of some of the core activities, with the IT technologies available at that time. However, there was a need for an integrated, comprehensive, end-to-end IT solution to meet the changing business imperatives, and to make the new entities more responsive and proactive. With this objective in sight, the organization started its efforts to examine its existing processes, shortcomings and available technology options for a smooth migration path. Ms. Shahmeena Hussain, IAS, Director Administration at GUVNL informs, “The organization was looking to improve operational efficiency through standard processes, and to enhance transparency and accountability while efficiently managing and implementing governmentfunded schemes and projects. These were to help GUVNL achieve its ultimate goal – that of customer s a t i s fa c t i o n . ” R e v e n u e losses due to non-standard procedures could be avoided by standardizing the process and workflow and it would also result in better financial planning with predictable outflows and inflows. “It would also provide explicit

E-Urja had been continuously propelled through the steadfast commitment from the executive leadership of all the seven companies and the State Government.” MR. D. J. PANDIAN, IAS PRINCIPAL SECRETARY- ENERGY AND PETROCHEMICAL DEPARTMENT- GOVERNMENT OF GUJARAT AND CHAIRMAN, GUVNL

accountability, and make system maintenance and consolidation across the different companies easier,” she adds.

E-URJA Against this backdrop, GUVNL launched a massive enterprise-wide program, internally branded as ‘e-Urja’, an end-to-end enterprise resource planning (ERP) project. E-Urja was to be an integrated solution, sharing a centralized database with more than 50,000 users across 1500 widely dispersed offices from western border of India (Rann of Kutch) to southern part of Gujarat. According to Ms. Hussain, key departments such as Human Resources, Procurement, and Accounting were to be served by the same database with a single point of entry. Since data had to be entered or updated only once, this reduced not only the errors but also the time and labor required for reports and analysis, thus enabling better planning and program management. “Ultimately, we were able to shift time and resources to innovating, problem solving a n d s e r v i n g c u sto m e rs

60.3 million

people across

1,96,024 benefit from the electricity provided by GUVNL


rather than entering and processing, organizing, verifying and performing other time-consuming tasks. This resulted in reduction of aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses, improved quality of power supply, increased revenue collection and improved consumer satisfaction among several other benefits,” she adds. Employee satisfaction was another key focus area and since the HR and payroll interface were being served from the same database, tracking irregularities and managing employee payments became easier. “This increased accuracy and speed and also enhanced employee satisfaction,” says Ms. Hussain.

changes. It was important for GUVNL to expose their workforce to the current best practices being adopted in the utility sector across the globe and align their existing business processes to those best processes. The employees also had a very limited exposure to and awareness of the ERP system and the project in particular. Since the entire exercise was about exploiting IT as the primary agent of change, the foremost problem was timely procurement and commissioning of necessary computing and communication infrastructure. According to Ms. Hussain, “A very large geographical spread across Gujarat made this extremely complex. Zeroing-in on the solution platform, finalizing the IT landscape, working out equipment specifications, handling the procurement process, and ensuring timely commissioning through flawless co-ordination among dozens of vendors was a demanding task. Another technology challenge that had to be overcome was the mapping of existing complex business processes and then standardization for each of the companies. Finally, GUVNL had to come up with a strategy to collect and move huge volumes of data relating to distribution network assets, consumers and so on, into the ERP system.”

Effective change management program involving more than 50,000 employees helped in the success of the e-Urja project across all the subsidiaries of GUVNL

CHALLENGES Unleashing an enterprise-wide transformation of this nature entailed many challenges. While some were anticipated at the conceptualization stage, a few were discovered in the course of the implementation. “This particular implementation involved tackling various IT challenges along with the task of taking care of the fears and concerns of a large and varied workforce,” says Ms. Hussain. The post-unbundling scenario posed a great challenge in the implementation of this project as there was a sense of uncertainty among the employees due to the various organizational

“GUVNL and its subsidiaries are the first to implement complete ERP, making it unique among state-owned power utilities in India.” MR. MUKESH PURI, IAS MANAGING DIRECTOR, GUVNL

THE IMPLEMENTATION GUVNL chose TATA Consultancy Services (TCS) as its e-Urja technology partner. “TCS, with its rich experience in the Energy and Utilities (E&U) space, contributed immensely towards conceptualization, implementation, training and management of the e-Urja program - making it the first of its kind among state-owned power utilities in India,” says Mr. Mukesh Puri, IAS, MD, GUVNL. The most important aspect was to involve the executive management to take ownership of the project. According to Mr. D.J. Pandian, IAS, Principal Secretary- Energy and PetroChemical Department - Government of Gujarat and Chairman, GUVNL, “E-Urja had been continuously propelled through the steadfast commitment from the executive leadership of all the seven companies and there were also periodical reviews by the State Government.” Studying the existing business processes and practices and blue-printing them to align with


global best processes of ERP along with localizations and customizations involved a large pool of close to 200 people. This comprised of business users and process champions from within the organization as well as IT professionals from TCS. The IT landscape consisted of more than 100 high-end servers and 60 TB of storage housed at Vadodara in a state-of-theart data centre. More than 12,000 desk-tops across the state were connected over a dedicated point-topoint optical fibre network ensuring enterprise-wide connectivity, with 99 percent availability covering all active locations. In order to ensure seamless network connectivity, a dedicated Wide Area Network (WAN) and LAN consisting of more than 900 leased line circuits and 600 dial-up connections were set up. The data centre adequately caters to the volume, security and redundancy imperatives for business continuity. TCS also had to ensure that all the legacy processes were retired, whether automated or otherwise, to ensure comprehensive adoption of the new system. As about the change management exercise at GUVNL, Mr. Puri says, “In order to address the concerns, fears and reservations of more than 50,000 employees, GUVNL had to come up with one of the largest HR programs involving a massive training program. To impart exhaustive training to all end-users, GUVNL introduced a ‘train-thetrainer’ concept where tech-savvy employees were identified, and developed as in-house faculty for end-user training.” Another initiative was to improve knowledge sharing by creating a chain of process champions. An awareness programme about the benefits of the e-Urja was initiated and employees were made aware of the benefits of the system. GUVNL also linked e-Urja with employee promotion and other rewards and recognition programmes. It kept the employees motivated by organizing e-Urja quizzes, newsletters and so on. “This ensured employees’ participation in the change process,” he adds.

BENEFITS Today, e-Urja enables core business transactions at operational level, the resultant quality and flow of data improves the governance at a tactical level, while the information analytics aids the intelligent decisionmaking at a strategic level. Says Mr. Puri,”e-Urja System usage dashboard with drill-down functionality provides senior management a complete overview of the process-wise and module-wise usage for each of the seven companies on a real time basis.” GUVNL has benefited with the real-time inventory position being made available for all items across the company. It has helped GUVNL to significantly

TCS contributed immensely towards conceptualization, implementation, training and management of the e-Urja program.” MS. SHAHMEENA HUSSAIN, IAS DIRECTOR ADMINISTRATION, GUVNL

reduce access procurement using an effective monitoring and controlling system. It now has the ability to generate various inventory reports on stock of key items. It can also get an analysis of insulated overhead cables like Aerial Bunched Cable (ABC) and FSN (Fast, Slow and Non-Moving Item) which helps the utility company make strategic decisions. GUVNL now receives revenue and cash-on-hand information for all business establishments across the company. This enables the utility company to monitor its financials. It has also benefited from increased availability, reliability and productivity of assets combined with reduced cost associated with maintenance, procurement, transmission, distribution and customer service. For the employees, automating the process of asset creation has helped reduce human workload to a great extent. A systematic workflow approval helps the company to drastically reduce turnaround time and increase employee satisfaction. HRMS functions such as online leave application, trainings, transfer, appraisal, recruitment and promotions, have helped the workforce to a great extent. A robust payroll system effectively supports GUVNL. This has ensured that the salaries, loans and claims are processed on time and adjusted quickly. The e-Urja project has propelled GUVNL and its subsidiaries into an era of e-Governance and this is clearly reflected by the number of awards that the company has won recently for innovative use of IT in the power sector. “There is no denying the fact that adopting IT as a key enabler to unleash the potential locked in GUVNL would go a long way in making it competitive in the global arena,” says Ms. Hussain.



Good sense, and not blind faith in hype, should prevail while making purchases strategic to the company’s growth. That’s just one of Mukul Jain’s learnings as he steers the IT ship through the choppy insurance industry at DLF Pramerica. MUKUL JAIN, Sr. Vice President & Head - Information Technology DLF Pramerica


How can IT contribute in the strategy plans of a new company like DLF Pramerica? For a new company like DLF Pramerica Life Insurance, technology plays a critical role in providing a credible differentiator. Even though we are new or have a smaller branch network compared to more established players, the expectations that our customers and distributors have from us are the same. Only technology can help us scale those service levels. Sometime back, DPLI took a strategic decision to extend its distribution reach to tier-3 and tier-4 towns and rural areas. Since we don’t have branches in most of these areas, the only way to achieve this was by using technology smartly. IT drew up a plan wherein we provided all our sales personnel with a laptop/netbook and high speed data card. Using a secure VPN, employees were allowed to work in a fully operational virtual office. Today, these sales personnel have access to all the tools/applications which are available to their colleagues in any branch. This has enabled the sales personnel in far-flung offices to effectively service all distributors and customers. Another problem was the availability of network in remote areas. To overcome connectivity problems, we deployed various sales enablement tools which could work in offline mode. These were secured with various automated controls to enforce financial and internal business process compliance.

You have plenty of experience in the insurance business. How has this helped you contribute to business development at DLF Pramerica? Yes, I do have close to nine years of experience working in the insurance industry. Over the years, I have realized that implementing cutting edge technology may not always be the best option for business. One has to select the appropriate technology with a very clear understanding of business imperatives and challenges. The insurance experience helps me think more like a business person and make the right choices when it come to technology purchases.

What’s better for a CIO: sticking to one vertical and understanding its business processes or hopping between verticals to gain cross-industry understanding? Actually, there is no right or wrong path here. Different circumstances provide one with different experiences. Depth in a certain domain certainly gives you the knowledge and confidence to succeed in critical assignments, whereas an exposure to multiple domains helps broaden your perspective. You never know when that broadened perspective could help you come up with out-of-the-box solutions. In fact, I believe in looking across the industry verticals while seeking solutions for a business problem. A CIO from another vertical could have tackled a problem similar to the one I face and found a better solution or devised a better process.

The insurance industry has seen frenzied competition since India opened its doors to private players. How important is it for IT leaders to understand these market dynamics? In the insurance industry, IT can play a significant role in enabling business. In order to deliver on those expectations,

the CIO needs to understand the business dynamics very well to be able to offer appropriate technology solutions. Furthermore, he needs to map the right technology — big or small, new or old, complex or simple — with the process to deliver benefits that impact business in a big way. It’s important to feel the pulse of the business to know what will really work.

With such intense competition in the insurance industry, is retaining talent in the IT department a big challenge for you? How do you manage it? Retaining good talent in any company is always a challenge. Good talent seeks engaged environment and challenging opportunities which helps them grow. We have an advantage over others in the current scenario because we are a growing organization and any employee in IT gets to work on a variety of applications/projects which they may not have been exposed to earlier. IT employees can also work on various cross-functional projects that may have nothing to do with technology. Also, we continuously train employees on acquiring skills — not only on the technical front — but also in soft-skills areas like managing conflicts, vendor management and holding effective meetings.

Does being in the insurance industry make your IT team more risk-averse? Any other aspect of insurance that rubs off on IT? I don’t think it’s true, even though insurance industry is all about mitigating your own risk by transferring it. We are a new and growing company, and taking calculated risks — like experimenting with new technology and aligning with new partners — is part of our IT strategy. We migrated close to 250 sales manager in a span of a two weeks from Lotus notes mail platform to a cloud email platform which was a risky venture considering the fact that we were to encounter thorny change management issues and that it was to be done pan-India. But the whole migration happened without a glitch. One aspect of insurance, though, which rubs off on IT is longterm thinking. Even though technology is changing rapidly, we look at a long-term horizon of at least 5-10 years whenever we evaluate new applications and technology. We look at factors such as technology scalability, the possibility of the technology become obsolete in a short span of time, and whether we would have enough partners to maintain it.

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TCS transformers - October 2011  
TCS transformers - October 2011  

These features appear as a regular section within CIO magazine, India. In the series Tata Consultancy Services brings you tales of extraordi...