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Case Study Of Fortnight

Q: Tell us something about the business of your company?

Meru Cab is India's largest radio taxi company owning and operating over 5000 air conditioned cabs in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad. It serves over a million customers every month.

Q: What kind of business applications / IT infrastructure are used at your company?

Our core business of providing a cab to customers any time anywhere in the city is achieved by effective use of technologies such as GPS, GPRS, GIS, web, sms, IVR, CTI, ACD, payment gateways etc. Over 95% of all our bookings are done by the system without any human intervention with the help of these technologies.

Q: Name the project if any?

Performance Improvement through Technology.

Q: What was successfully implemented? Describe the project or initiative and the solution you deployed. e.g.: BI, CRM, ERP, SCM, SaaS, Green IT, WAN, Virtualization, Data Centre, Security, Web based solution, Unified Communication, Server Consolidation, Security, Mobility and field force automation, Cloud Computing, online portal, etc ?

ERP, CRM, SCM, BI, SOA, Virtualization.

Q: What was the IT / business challenge faced that led you to this project?

When the company started 3 years back, taxi business was unorganized and there were no process or technology templates to follow in India or globally. For the first 2 years, we built in-house systems which were easier to tweak and enhance as our business processes matured. However, this resulted in multiple systems built to solve specific business problems but working in silos. Multiple data entries were done by different departments. There were mismatches in the master data between different systems. Building reports by fetching data from multiple systems became difficult. Also 100% business growth every year resulted in performance issues. These systems did not provide the best practices from the perspective of governance, controls and audits.

So the fundamental need to go for integrated systems was to implement systems that can support the organization in its quest for a large scale business with sustained profitability.

Q: What IT solution / product / strategy was planned to overcome the above business challenges?

Once our frontend systems were technology enabled, we focused on strengthening our backend systems. Last year, we implemented following applications to make entire business end-to-end technology enabled:

  1. Oracle E-Business Suite
    • Financials (General Ledger, Accounts Receivables, Accounts Payables, Cash Management, Fixed Assets, Procurement)
    • HR (Core HRMS, Employee Self Service, Performance Management)
    • Enterprise Asset Management (Fleet Management and maintenance of our cabs)
  2. Siebel CRM
    • Cab Chauffeur Lifecycle Management (Recruitment & Training, Performance Management, Customer Complaints Management, Chauffeur Grievance Management, Allocation & de-allocation of cabs, Breaks, Exits etc)
    • Customer Analytics
    • Sales Force Automation for Advertising Sales and Corporate Sales
  3. Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition for.
  4. Oracle SOA suite for tightly integrating all the above applications and also the cab dispatch system.

Q: What was the evaluation process and why did you choose a particular vendor?

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was engaged to understand various business processes across the organization, document the AS-IS processes, conduct TO-BE workshops and freeze those processes, build RFP, evaluate responses, provide their recommendations and help build a technology blueprint. This helped us overcome the risk of project cost and time escalations due to unclear requirements or frequent changes to requirements.

Three ERP vendors were shortlisted who responded to the detailed RFP and also conducted proof-of-concept sessions demonstrating their product capabilities in our environment. One of the important decision points was how a Chauffeur is mapped in the proposed solution. Oracle proposed to handle cab Chauffeurs, as customers within their Siebel CRM solution. This fitted our requirements very well. Since the core transactional systems (Oracle E-Biz and Siebel) were from Oracle, the Integration layer and the BI platform were also chosen from the same vendor for better interoperability and single window solution. Sun Sparc blade servers were selected as the hardware platform after evaluating different solutions. Accenture was selected as System Integrator after detailed evaluation.

Q: Scope of the project – geography, no. of users, systems, timelines for project execution from signoff to go live, etc.?

Each one of the 500 employees of the company across different departments and four cities were covered under this project. The entire implementation was completed within 9 months.

Q: What major challenges (technical, managerial, process) did your organization face during the execution of your project or IT initiative and how did you address (surmounted) them?

For such projects, the people and process challenges always surpass technical challenges. These were overcome with combination of measures like significant backing from the top, clear definition of processes and sign off before the start of the project, scheduled steering committee meetings, dedicated core user team from business side, multiple CRP sessions and continuous training to users.

Q: What was the role of the partner (if any) and a value add in the implementation of this project?

A healthy ecosystem of dedicated and competent partners is a must for the success of such projects.

Q: What were the business benefits generated / derived from the project / deployment? Any significant & measurable impact on business? If so please provide quantifiable numbers wherever possible. Please describe the financial return and measurable payback. An overview of the quantifiable benefits that underscore your project's success.

Integrated systems have helped us to reduce the inefficiency in deployment and utilization of cabs due to automated allotments, better reporting and reduced data entry. For our business, profitability is highly dependant on utilization of cabs. A 1% improvement in utilization of cabs can help us improve our revenues by Rs. 12 million. Our early observations show an improvement better than 1%. This single improvement itself will help us recover the investments within 2 years.

Q: What was something indigenous or radically different about the project or initiative?

a) For the first time, a comprehensive ERP & CRM system has been implemented in the unorganized Taxi business. End to end implementation integrating every department/function and every employee.
b) For Meru, the driver (subscriber) is a critical element in the value chain, who is not an employee but a customer for the company. For the first time, we have used Siebel CRM system for managing the life cycle of over 5000 drivers with modules such as Recruitment & Training, Performance Management, Customer Complaints Management, Chauffeur Grievance Management, Allocation & de-allocation of cabs, Breaks, Separation etc. Siebel system is integrated with biometric system for foolproof authentication of drivers during recruitment, as some of the old drivers who are terminated due to customer service or disciplinary issues tries to join back by changing their names and driving license. For the first time, we have used Oracle EAM module for managing the fleet deployment, maintenance and management.
c) Entire project implementation completed within 9 months and within budget.

Q: How did your organization change the way it does business as a result of this project?

The ERP and CRM system has helped us build a very strong foundation to scale up while ensuring efficient and effective process and strong corporate governance. With all the functions integrated in unified system, it has helped us get one version of truth and better decision making for the management. This will ultimately result in better service to the customer.

Q: Business user's acceptance is a key measure for the success of any project. A quote from the key business user of the project, solution deployed?

Excerpt from the press release:
CEO of Meru Cabs, Rajesh Puri said, "I am excited about strengthening and combining all systems together into a single, integrated software program that runs off a single back end system."

He said, "This will help various departments to easily share information and communicate with each other."

He further said, "Standardizing those processes and using a single, integrated system will help us increase productivity and improve service levels. We have partnered with Oracle & Accenture in this endeavor."

"Implementing ERP systems shall have tremendous payback for Meru Cabs and will help us to grow even faster," he added.

Q: What single "lesson learned" can be described in 20 words or less resulting from the above project?

One key lesson learnt is that no amount of user training is enough. A lot more emphasis should be put on that during the project planning stage.

Q: Has the project / initiative won any IT implementation award?

1. NASSCOM CNBC TV18 IT User Award 2010 (3rd consecutive year)
2. Express Intelligent Enterprise Award 2010
3. CIOL Enterprise Champion Award 2010
4. InformationWeek EDGE Award 2010

Q: Final words on industry wide adoption of this type of project?

We hope that this initiative will help our organization go a long way in the journey to move the taxi Industry in India from unorganized sector to organized sector.

Q: Any other information you would like to share?

We have used IT beyond typical hardware and software and integrated it with automotive technology. We integrated the on-board Mobile Data Terminal (embedded Win CE) with vehicle digital odometer to give real-time audio-visual speed alarms when the vehicle is speeding beyond stipulated limit. We integrated the SMS gateway to get instant feedback from customer at the end of every trip. We also provided in-cab card payment options fully integrated with the dispatch system and ERP. We set up dedicated call center for chauffeurs.

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