CIO Wall

Manik Paul

VP - IT & SAP - Vikram Solar

CIO Perspectives

What is your IT vision in terms of cloud adoption? Is it Private Cloud or Public Cloud? What are the advantages / disadvantages of each?

We all know that the role of a CIO is changing. We are no longer managing infrastructure or implementation of ERP applications. The business expectations are that we have to partner to find new avenue for topline and bottomline saving with focus on IT. So, you have to depend on someone else to manage your infrastructure. If you have to use an application that is already running on cloud, you do not have to worry about infrastructure and simply use the application space. The role of IT is changing and the role of cloud, weather public, private, or hybrid, depends on your need.

Transforming your WAN from fragile to agile

Vikram Solar is a growing organization. We have opened offices in Germany, USA and recently in Dubai. Since we are also in EPC, we are setting up plants in various places and our functions are increasing.

We are going to move all our applications to cloud. We have been using Google Apps from 2012. There are many SAS-based applications and we are also looking to re-implement SAP. We are looking at a huge growth of bandwith requirement because everyone will want to access cloud and the challenges are many once the number of sites increases. What I understand is that to reduce WAN Infrastructure cost, we have to adopt SD-WAN solutions. This will not only reduce cost but it also gives power to you and you are not dependent on service providers. Most of us don’t know when to increase bandwidth and why you have to do so. You just see that there is a lot of traffic and you need to upgrade. SD-WAN is a solution that will help CIOs. But the box is a constraint. We need to see if it is possible to not set up a box for remote sites where infrastructure and maintenance are a problem.

How Hybrid IT continues to fuel Digital Transformation

Industries running on traditional set-ups are now thinking of digital transformation. Our company is growing at 30 to 40 per cent, so business and IT transformations are necessary. The main challenge is integration and security. Cloud infrastructure is more hassle-free. Our enterprise applications are fully integrated with manufacturing operations. So what is important for us is the availability and speed of the application on the public cloud.

What prompted you to embark on the IT transformation journey?

Digitization of systems & processes has played a key role in supporting the growth engine of the business. In line with the company's focus on adopting pioneering and innovative technologies, Vikram Solar has decided to adopt the world’s best ERP system – SAP, in 2010, to integrate all major business processes. The digital transformation journey with SAP continued and Vikram Solar has implemented most of the standard processes in SAP. In addition to this, we have fully automated the entire manufacturing process in SAP, implemented Product Costing, and ensured accurate capturing of cost at different stages of production. The company has also implemented Logistics Execution (LE) and COPA to determine the customer wise profitability.

While focusing on growth, it is very important to secure the bottom line by controlling the expenses. The company has carried out a detailed budgeting exercise and all Capex & Opex monthly budgets are entered in SAP Fund Management module to prevent overrun of expenses. All EPC projects are managed through SAP Project system wherein the cost budgets and sales budgets are monitored on a daily basis. Vikram Solar has also rolled out SAP Mobility solution (FIORI) to automate the approval process through mobile devices. At Vikram Solar, we have always believed that the biggest strength of our organization are our People. Accordingly, Vikram Solar has started rolling out the world’s best talent management suite - SAP Success Factor in the business.

The association with SAP is expected to continue further. Vikram Solar has already acquired HANA license from SAP and we are planning for early roll out to reap the benefits of HANA. We are also exploring GST Digital Compliance & Hybris solution of SAP.

Digital Disruptions not only threaten the very core of an organization’s business but also present an opportunity to innovate and excel. How are you responding to the new changes and applying digital transformation strategy in your organization?

The digital transformation journey started at Vikram Solar way back in 2010, when SAP was introduced to integrate all major business processes. In line with the company's focus on adopting pioneering and innovative technologies in manufacturing, we have fully automated the SAP confirmation process at our facility and quality parameter capture through sun simulator. The digital business transformation has enabled the company to achieve phenomenal year on year growth. The transformation journey continued as the company decided to capture customer’s expectations, demand and the behaviour. In Dec 2014, world’s best CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution Salesforce implemented the business.

As the company celebrates its 10-year anniversary, we have set ourselves for exponential growth journey this year to take the company to the next level. In this direction, Vikram Solar has taken several digital transformation initiatives to meet its objectives and future vision.

1) Controlling and Costing

While focussing on growth it is very important to secure bottom line by controlling the expenses. The company has carried out a detailed budgeting exercise and all capex & opex monthly budgets are entered in SAP Fund Management module to prevent overrun of expenses. All EPC projects are managed through SAP Project system wherein the cost budgets and Sales budgets are monitored on a daily basis.

The bottom line is fully dependent on pricing which can be achieved if we know the cost for each processes. An initiative has been taken to digitally calculate the Std Costs in SAP depending several variable parameters - alternative source of raw material, different geographical sales locations and other dependencies. The knowledge of costing will assist the Sales team to ascertain the variable pricing model. We are also implementing the SAP COPA module to determine the customer wise, location wise, project wise, segment wise profitability.

To assist the Bidding process on Government/Private projects, a pre-bid costing module is being developed based on the inputs of engineering BOQ and last purchased price.

2) Integration of Salesforce and SAP sales process

The lead generation and management which is carried at Salesforce will be fully integrated with SAP where sales order, delivery, billing and payment process are being done. The lead management and conversion will be measured and monitored regularly. The sales team will also be able to get the delivery and payment details on their Salesforce App to provide the information to customer as and when required.

The aim is to meet the expectations of the customer and to improve the Customer Delight, Vikram Solar plan to develop a system in next 1-2 years wherein customer will be able to see the delivery status, payment status etc. directly on their systems.

3) Business Intelligence – Aid Decision Making

To aid decision making and the review process by senior management team, Vikram Solar is implementing SAP BI-BO across all business processes. The analytical business reports are developed in the form of Dashboards for quicker & faster analysis. The Finance & Sales Dashboards are already implemented. The Dashboards related to manufacturing, quality, procurement and inventory will be enabled shortly.

4) Digitization and workflow automation

Our Focus is to Go Green and move towards paperless organization. An in-depth analysis has been carried out to ascertain the approval forms used by the business in various areas. Many of the approval processes are moved in SAP Applications and the remaining processes will be moved in the Intranet Application. SAP Fiori Apps are created so that the approvals can be given through the mobile devices.

5) Warehouse Management

With the increase in production, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the inventory of Finished Goods, Raw Material and the engineering goods. A fully automated digitised solution along with the QR Code integration will be implemented soon. This will increase the productivity of manufacturing operations and enable easier tracking of goods and the faster disposition of materials

6) Integrate HR Processes – SAP Success Factor

At Vikram Solar, we have always believed that the biggest strength of our organization are People. They are the drivers of our growth and the real reason for our success. Vikram Solar believes in retaining the best talent in the industry and work on continuous people development.

In order to meet the objective, VIkram Solar is implementing Success Factor for all HR processes – Performance & Goal Management, Recruitment and On-boarding, Carrier Development & Succession Planning, Learning & Training and Compensation Management.

7) Move to SAP HANA

To take the SAP to next level, we plan to migrate to SOH (Suit on HANA) by Jan 2017. A detailed strategy is being worked out and to minimise the cost and total cost of ownership, by adopting VM-Ware and Cloud hosting.

We will use the full power of HANA by moving into S/4 HANA – Simple Finance by July 2017.

8) Global Support & IT Security

Vikram Solar is a Global organization and we run a 24 X 7 operations. In order to meet the business objectives, we are building a responsive organization to provide 24 X 7 support as per the SLA- Service Level agreement. All users will be able to access data securely and safely from any locations. We will also be implementing DLP solutions to prevent data leakages information theft.

9) O&M sites integration and online monitoring

With the increase in EPC business, O&M (Operation & Maintenance) site integration and daily monitoring will be a key business challenge as most of the sites are located remotely. We offer SCADA enabled Remote Monitoring Facility for all the operational units. Inspection, testing, cleaning, and preventive maintenance and/ or corrective repairs and replacement are the key objective of the sites. As a part of digital initiatives for O&M sites, a detailed plan is being worked out to provide reliable, faster and secured connectivity at all O&M sites. A centralised APP which can be accessed from mobile devices will be developed to monitor the performance of critical parameters, trend and analysis in the form of dashboards. It is also planned to roll out the SAP operations at sites.