For 40 year old Indian pharma organization Jagsonpal Pharmaceuticals Ltd, IT has been on the backseat till very recently. "Earlier, IT was considered as supporting function--not a revenue earning department," says Prakash Pradhan, the head of IT at Jagsonpal Pharmaceuticals Ltd. This Rs 200 crore company has a headcount of around 1300 employees.
Despite being strongly established in India, Jagsonpal still struggles to emphasize the importance of IT in business operations. On this front, the CIO's challenge has been to keep up with the current market pace, as well as deal with IT change management issues within the organization. "Market dynamics are changing, and the pharma industry is facing severe competition. In a scenario where most pharma majors leverage IT in a big way, we cannot stay behind," says Pradhan.
As Pradhan clarifies, IT change management is not obstructed by the top management, as is generally the case. "The challenge starts as we start going down the pyramid. At Jagsonpal, employee turnover is very less, so they have been part of this company for nearly 20 years. Change management becomes extremely difficult in such an environment. It's a big change in itself for these employees to understand the importance of IT," feels Pradhan.
According to Pradhan, the IT team struggled for almost five years on the IT change management front. "After fighting for so many years, I finally find myself on a similar wavelength with other operations departments like sales, distribution, purchase, finance, production, planning and quality control".
IT change management roadmap
As a result of these IT change management efforts, Jagsonpal is currently in the midst of plans to revamp its IT setup. In 2009, the company hired Ernst & Young as consultants to state the importance of IT to stay abreast with competition. Information management and governance can be achieved through technology.
A major IT change management project that Jagsonpal has on its plans is ERP implementation. But before that, Jagsonpal's IT team intends to upgrade its current IT infrastructure to comply with future requirements. "We were on Novell network servers for our corporate office. We have now migrated to Widows-based servers. Gradually, we will switch over to data integration part," informs Pradhan.
Apart from these IT change management initiatives, information security is also on company's radar. Till 2009, Jagsonpal did not even have a firewall. In August 2009, the company went for a deployment of unified threat management (UTM) boxes as part of its IT change management exercise.
As far as ERP is concerned, Jagsonpal's IT team is evaluating different vendors. The entire ERP implementation is expected to get over by April 2011. Key areas that Pradhan and his team are looking at during the ERP vendor evaluation are:
1. Domain specific knowledge is most critical. So the vendor should have experience deploying ERP in a pharma company.
2. Vendor should be strong in the areas of functional consultants and project management.
3. Implementer should be good at capabilities like data migration and data management.
4. The vendor should be able to advice and guide on the infrastructure part.
As IT change management takes place within Jagsonpal, the challenge of training users is a major concern for the IT team. "Users respect IT only if they understand IT. We plan to undertake training sessions to make users understand terms like data integration, product coding, item coding, and how it can help in accuracy of information," says Pradhan.