With a daily footfall of 3,000 devotees, a network of nine branches and over 20,000 daily transactions, Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan, the second largest pilgrimage destination in western India, needed
to radically enhance its operational efficiencies. Deployment of a SAP ERP 5.0 enterprise solution by Patni Computer Systems has vastly improved the trust's ability to monitor the day-to-day operations.
It has also improved the staff's ability to handle large volumes of transactions.
Over the last few years, the daily operations of the trust had become complex. Managing the growing volumes of donations received from different sources and channeling its proceeds into various welfare activities was becoming cumbersome. It was a herculean effort to handle massive transactions per day pertaining to room reservations and check-outs, allotment of the cloakroom lockers, sales of publications and souvenirs, distribution of sacred food and medicines and procurement of items required to provide on-campus dining and hospitality services. Moreover, maintaining updated records of transactions manually with over 1,000 suppliers and contractors was also difficult.
"We recognised that transparent financial reporting was important to bolster the confidence of our stakeholders in the activities of the trust. An ERP system was the need of the hour to significantly raise the bar of transparency and accountability," says SS Patil, chairman, Shri Sant Gajanan Maharaj Sansthan.
The managing committee of the trust also recognised that manual practices for managing sales, purchase and accounting operations resulted in lower productivity and affected the service response time. This called for a solution that would simplify processes, enhance operational efficiency, minimise the cycle-time involved in transaction processing and ease the work pressure on its staff.
Moving away from manual silos and creating effective cross-functional processes that are truly integrated via the SAP ERP system was not an easy task. The Patni team focused on the functional objectives of the Sansthan and not just on the software capabilities and implementation.
The trust had to invest time and resources to ensure preparedness of its staff to use the new processes and system. The implementation steering committee represented by the members of the Sansthan and Patni encouraged dialogue with the end-users in order to address their concerns. It also had to ensure that the implementation delivered the stated objectives.
There was a need to enhance certain standard functionalities of the SAP ERP system to meet those requirements. "The biggest challenge to change came from the end-users of the solution. Most of the staff members were not conversant with English and happened to be first-time computer users. The Sansthan's senior accountants had never used a keyboard, and found it difficult to adapt to the change. This raised several questions about the practical relevance of implementing an ERP system," says Vivekanand Sangle, senior manager, Patni.
Lack of standardisation was observed as another hurdle, because it was dependent on manual processes. This not only rendered informed decision-making difficult for the management but change management an even bigger challenge for the solution provider.
The immediate methodology for streamlining the implementation of SAP ERP was taken care of by the vendor. The implementation process itself was divided into various phases covering the entire project lifecycle.
In the first phase, the team defined the project objectives as well as the strategy for implementation. It also identified the project organisation and roles and finalised the implementation scope.
In the second phase, the focus was to define the scope of the implementation and create a business blueprint. While in the third phase, the purpose was to configure the system in order to have an integrated and documented solution.
In the subsequent phase, a framework was built for completing final testing, training users, and preparing for cutover of both the data and the system to a production environment.
The last phase of the implementation focused on supporting and optimising the operative system, the technical infrastructure and load distribution, as well as the business processes. Following this, the system was configured, tested and finally rolled out.
Most employees were working on computers for the first time, which they found difficult to operate. This issue was addressed by rolling out a change management programme. The management committee of the Sansthan discussed the benefits of the new system with all the members of staff and assured them that its implementation would not affect their employment. They also imparted end-user training to the entry level staff and assigned the older members with roles in managing operations. The manual practices were not discontinued for six months even after the 'go-live' stage. The staff continued the practice of recording transactions through manual processes despite the fully functional ERP, to ensure that its staff achieved a certain level of comfort with the new system.
"The solution has led to manpower utilisation. More importantly, it has helped us reinforce our accountability to institutions and devotees who donate funds to facilitate the trust's smooth functioning," expresses Patil.
The number of donation counters has been reduced to one, resulting in an 80% gain in manpower utilisation. The system has automated the generation of reports like supplier outstanding, trial balance, general ledger, balance sheet, budgets and audit report.
This has vastly improved the management's ability to monitor the day-to-day operations as well as forecast the availability of finances required for sustaining its activities.
SAP ERP 5.0 provides complete transparency into the collection and utilisation of donations. It also helps ensure that donation made for a specific purpose is channeled in that direction and not into a general fund, thus improving the overall confidence in its functioning.
Inspired by the implementation, the Sansthan is now exploring the possibility of adding online donation functionality to its website. This will enable devotees to submit their donations online by charging their credit or debit cards. This e-business platform will also help in connecting with devotees to ensure that they have received the receipts for the same.
6 months ago