After automating Meru Cab Company Pvt. Ltd.’s (Meru Cabs) front-end operations for customer management and integrating the global positioning system (GPS) with the interactive voice response (IVR), we felt the need for an integrated backend system. Thus, we decided to implement an ERP system and accordingly roped in Accenture, which carried out an effective ERP implementation methodology between June 2009 and February 2010.
Meru Cabs implemented Oracle E-Business Suite 12.1 ERP in the areas of finance, human resources, and enterprise asset management (fleet management). The company followed a five step ERP implementation methodology as discussed below:
1.Business process management: As part of the ERP implementation methodology, crystallize the business processes in black and white and get rid of grey areas before initiating the project. This will help implement the project within the stipulated time and budget. Meru Cabs engaged Price WaterHouse Coopers (PwC) to help it define as is processes, to be processes and raise a structured request for proposal (RFP).
2.People alignment: An ERP implementation touches all areas of an organization and should hence, have an absolute ownership and sponsorship right at the very top. Regular communication from the top management helps employees understand the significance and expected impact of the new system. Softer aspects related to people play a crucial part in ERP implementation methodology.
3.Project management office: The ERP implementation methodology requires a structured approach. Create a project management office with a full-time project manager from the organization heading it. A core team should be formed with dedicated full-time resources from each key function and information technology department. The team should meet regularly to formally review the project status. You should also form a high level steering committee which consists of key members of the senior management from the organization as well as the system integration partner. The core team should escalate major unresolved issues to the steering committee, which should meet at least every quarter or more frequently based on need.
4.Training the users: The next step of the ERP implementation methodology involves conducting multiple ‘as-is’ and ‘to-be’ workshops with key stakeholders. Detailed use case scenarios should be documented. Multiple conference room pilots (CRPs) should be held to enable the key team members visualize the new system. Sign off on documents and CRP sessions should be obtained from key stakeholders. The data migration plans should be submitted well in advance so that the team gets adequate time for preparation. User training is the most crucial area that often gets neglected. At Meru Cabs, we chose the ‘train the trainer’ approach. Training can be given in multiple phases before and after the implementation. While migrating from the legacy system, parallel go-live should be considered for a brief period.
5.Post-implementation review: The last step of the ERP implementation methodology is post the go-live status. A detailed review should be carried out to ensure that the organization achieves the benefits that were set at the start of the project.
About the author: Nilesh Sangoi is the chief technology officer at Meru Cabs, and has 18 years of experience in managing IT for large companies. He has been with Meru Cabs for more than three years. Sangoi has been instrumental in building a technology-enabled business for the company, and making it a pioneer in GPS as well as general packet radio service-based cab service in India.
(As told to Anuradha Ramamirtham)