Andrei Merkulov - stock.adobe.co

CW Innovation Awards: Driving new revenue with data insights

GLS Group beefed up its enterprise resource planning system to deliver data insights that support real-time decision making and drive new revenue

GLS Group needed access to data that could power real-time decision-making across its manufacturing units, and it achieved that, along with other business benefits, when it plotted an enterprise resource planning (ERP) enhancement roadmap.

The Indian company drew out a deployment plan to consolidate the workflow of all five of its business units and move them to the same system. Each manufacturing business was running its own third-party ERP system, which was used to support each unit’s financial and production processes.

Dubbed Pragathi, the project centred on SAP Hana to power real-time processing across GLS’s operations, establishing a standardised way of operating. It was named Manufacturing Project of the Year in the Computer Weekly Innovation Awards APAC 2022.

GLS is a Gurgaon-based manufacturing group that produces industrial films, packaging, chemicals, aluminium and infrastructure. It has more than 1,500 employees, including an IT team of 25, and an annual IT budget of $5m.

It selected SAP Hana for its ability to quickly execute a wide variety of complex queries, and without aggregating data in advance. The relational database management system boasts an in-memory technology that makes this possible, analysing large data volumes in seconds.

While many of its business requirements could be supported with standards, some legacy-customised processes that were familiar among employees would not be available on the new platform.

This was necessary to improve the company’s overall operations and ensure the new system would be secured. However, it meant employees had to adapt to a new way of working. Some felt the new system had resulted in the loss of functionalities to which they were accustomed.

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Pragathi’s deployment team was conscious of this, and dedicated time and attention to addressing such concerns throughout the project.

There were ongoing conversations to underscore the company’s objectives of implementing the new system and explain the business value of adopting standards. Business users were also encouraged to share their feedback on the project and readiness to go live.

This enabled the deployment team to identify pockets in the organisation that remained apprehensive about the project. Additional time was spent helping these employees see the benefits they would gain from using the new platform. Such efforts finally won over even the sceptics and the project proved a success.

GLS set aside a budget of 40 million INR ($529,900) for Pragathi, with a six-month deployment schedule. Executed by its IT team, the project was completed on time and within budget, and involved moving all workflow components that were essential for a product manufacturing company, such as product planning, plant management, quality management and HR.

With an integrated workflow established, manual interventions were minimised. The ERP enhancement also reduced the company’s data footprint.

Real-time data is now available, in the required formats, and more reliable. New insights include product costing data, digitised product information and employee information.

Road to new revenue, business models

The successful deployment of Pragathi has enabled GLS to reinvent its business models and drive new revenue streams.

It paved the way for the manufacturing group to connect with customers through any channel that delivered value. Operations and work processes were also streamlined.

Pragathi also enables the use of internet of things technology and big data to deliver deeper insights. Furthermore, access to real-time data analytics has allowed for better and instantaneous decision-making.

In offering advice for others keen to embark on a similar project, GLS pointed to SAP Business BluePrint as an essential development guide. In addition, all business workflow processes should be mapped according to the organisation’s requirements.

An open and honest communication channel with employees ought to be established, including early discussions of any potential challenge. Escalated problems can be resolved with the appointment of a case manager, who should be responsible for driving the project across sub-teams and business units.

Expectations should also be managed across all areas, including methodology, working culture, new system functions and technical aspects of the system. Prototyping of services, processes and new ways of working could help to bring early learning and adjustment issues to the surface.

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