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IT On Rent


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It on Rent :: A Viable way to automate your Small Business

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IT On Rent

  1. 1. ProductivITy iT on renT your A ViAble WAy To AuTomATe booTsTrApped or IT solutions are no longer the prerogative of smAll business large enterprises. Even small organisations with modest IT budgets can think of automating their management processes, by switching to the affordable pay-as- you-go model.T o thrive in this competitive organisations keep grappling with transparency across the organisation world, every organisation the issue of managing processes and and also forecast market trends. needs to build its brand name, information, they invariably fail to “Some of the challenges smallcapture market share, and grow at a concentrate on market trends and other businesses face today are the changingpace that is reasonably faster than its such key areas. As a result, they either lag forces of competition, changingcompetitors. All this requires access behind or grow at a very poor rate. workplace requirements, and the needto a realtime view of a business’ to focus on core competencies. Thus,health as well as the market trends. How IT can help these small firms need an efficient But there are many small The solution lies in transforming the IT solution to support their growth,”organisations, especially those with organisation’s way of functioning observes Ramshankar N, head, Strategicmodest budgets that still function the so that there is a seamless flow of Programs, RODE (Ramco OnDemandgood old way and perform tasks like information across departments. Also, ERP), Ramco Systems.maintaining data, preparing business it is important that the key decision But organisations that arereports, and so on, either manually makers in the company have access to bootstrapped or are still small, despiteor via disparate software solutions. organisation data, MIS (management knowing the merits of adopting IT,Such firms find themselves playing information system) reports and sometimes hesitate because of thecatch-up, and discover that their bigger insights, in realtime. All this and a lot associated costs. If you too have longcompetitors are far better equipped to more can be achieved by switching wanted to adopt the latest IT tools butidentify and tap market trends. to IT solutions, which can help have resisted doing so because of budget- Since department heads in such firms to integrate operations, ensure related issues, there is a way forward.Ankit Tuteja | BenefIT Bureau • BenefIT • August 2011• 41
  2. 2. ProductivITySwitch to ‘Web-based’ orrental business IT solutions A rental Web-With the availability of IT solutions based solutionlike the ERP (enterprise resource proves very cost-planning) system, CRM (customer effective as anrelationship management) solutionsand the like, at affordable rates via organisation paysthe pay-as-you-go or subscription- just a per-userbased model (also called the SaaS or monthly rental,software-as-a-service model), you which is quitetoo can think of automating yourbusiness and putting its growth on manageable.the fast track. Adopting IT solutions available at an affordable price andthat are available on rent, facilitates Jain, head, Business—Europe and India add value to your business. Gaganthe hassle-free operations of a (North), Novoally Software. Gandhi, director, My Kido, a retailcompany, allowing it focus on its Apart from this, implementing store that deals in kids furniture,key area of business and operational the right IT solution helps establish says, “We opted for TruePOS, aareas, resulting in improved business transparency across an organisation subscription-based retail POSperformance at a lower cost. and helps people get access to solution. If we had opted for an Before going any further, let’s first information—at an affordable cost. This on-premise model, we would haveunderstand what the term ‘rental’ or helps start-ups and small businesses paid ` 1,00,000 to set up the entire‘Web-based IT solution’ (or ‘SaaS’) save precious management time and infrastructure. Further, it wouldmeans. In simple words, Web-based IT focus more on the market and on how to require IT personnel to maintainsolutions are managed and provided serve customers far more efficiently, says it, which would have been anotherto organisations over the Internet Kumar Vembu, CEO, GoFrugal. monthly expense for us. Thus, weby a services provider or vendor, on opted for a Web-based solution. Wea ‘per month, per user’ basis. Here, Benefits derived paid ` 30,000 in the beginning toorganisations are saved from a sizable There are multiple benefits of opting implement the TruePOS solution, andup-front investment on the hardware for Web-based or subscription-based now every month we pay ` 500 perand software installations normally solutions. They allow organisations user as a subscription fee.”required if an organisation opts for an to try IT solutions that only large Victorinox India, another retailon-premise solution. In an on-premise organisations could afford earlier, company that sells products likesolution, the software is installed and without making a huge upfront pocket multi-tools, fine cutlery, time-run on the organisation’s own servers. investment. The capital expenditure pieces and travel gear has also beenIn this case, the organisation owns the required to be made at the outset in using the BIRetail solution for a yearsoftware and hardware infrastructure the on-premise model is replaced and a half now. C J Chandhoke, COO,within its premises. A rental Web-based by the much lower subscription that Victorinox India, says, “We boughtsolution proves very cost-effective the company pays per month. This the solution for 20 users and paidas an organisation pays just a per- makes it easier for organisations to approximately ` 2 lakhs to set upuser monthly rental, which is quite manage their cash-flows. Besides the infrastructure in the beginning,manageable. there is no need for an expensive IT and now there is a monthly outflow Switching to a Web-based team to maintain the IT solution, of around ` 35,000.” There are alsosubscription model is a better option says Prakash Kandaraj, head, Sales solutions like EazyCRM that arethan the on-premise model of IT and Marketing, BIRetail. available for free for a limited numberimplementation as it reduces the We turned to a few organisations of users but a company can upgrade tohassles associated with maintaining a that are currently using such solutions a paid account if the number of userscomplex IT infrastructure and allows to learn about the benefits they have increase beyond two. “For more usersfirms to achieve the larger objectives derived from them. and for premium features, our packagesin an affordable way, affirms Gaurav Cost-effective: These solutions are cost anywhere between ` 400 to ` 100042 • August 2011 • BenefIT •
  3. 3. ProductivITy C J Chandhoke, Rahul Singh, COO, Victorinox India Gagan Gandhi, Director, My Kido MD, BTB Retail “The Web-based solution “Adopting an integrated “I can access is so easy to operate that Web-based retail my reports from our sales team and store management solution anywhere, I don’t managers have grown has also helped us keep need to be in my fond of working on the a record of employees’ office all the time,application and are mostly productivity on a daily to know what is found hooked to it” basis.” happening there.”per user, per month,” tells Kunal Singhal, pay for maintenance or upgrades of-the-art infrastructure, can help andirector, Singhal Systems. in the software-as-a-service model. organisation manage data without “The monthly subscription The monthly subscription costs wasting any time. Retrieving data alsomodel makes it easy for us to take cover maintenance, monthly feature just requires a few mouse clicks.”out cash from our business. Also, upgrades, new releases and so on.” Access data from anywhere,the implementation went live in a Data management becomes easy: anytime: As these solutions arefew weeks’ time,” says Rahul Singh, With Web-based IT solutions, where Web-based, they let you access dataMD, BTB Retail. “As these solutions the service provider maintains from anywhere, anytime. “Havingare cost-effective, we were able your business data in a structured implemented the solution, I can atto take the plunge. We could not manner, you can easily have access any time get data on my iPad. Fromhave taken the risk of opting for an to your data archive as and when anywhere, I can get to know theon-premise model, hence, we went you want. For small organisations, realtime sales figures for differentfor the trial version of the software it is difficult to manage data in such outlets, and many other details likefirst, to ascertain its effectiveness. an organised way, considering their what is coming in and going out ofWe eventually got the Web-based limited expertise in IT and also the retail store, the profit marginsEazyCRM solution for 6 users at a cost because their core competencies lie and so on,” says Gandhi. Singh agreesof ` 10,000 for three months,” says elsewhere. Gandhi, who has also with Gandhi and adds, “ Since I canSwati Goel, office administrator, SN been using NetSuite, an integrated access my reports from anywhere, IAquaSystem Inc. Web-based business software suite don’t need to be in my office all the No maintenance costs: Since that includes applications like ERP time, to know what is happeningthese solutions are available on a and CRM software, since the last 2 there. Moreover, the dynamic reportsmonthly subscription basis, there years, explains the benefits, “When generated by the system allow meis no need for the organisations data is managed by a single person to identify problem areas on a dailysubscribing to them to worry about (the data operator), it becomes basis, and hence find solutions on-issues like software upgrades, data difficult to search, retrieve and the-fly.”back-ups and recovery, security, and structure the entire data, especially if Helps in monitoring employees:so on. It is the service provider who this person leaves the organisation. These IT solutions help you keepensures this. Ramshankar explains: But, having the company data a detailed record of transactions.“The customer does not have to managed via a vendor with a state- Gandhi explains how IT helped in • BenefIT • August 2011• 43
  4. 4. ProductivITyautomating the business and makingbusiness processes transparent. If you have longThis also made it possible for the wanted to opt forcompany to keep a fair track ofemployees’ contributions to assigned IT tools, but havetasks. “Earlier, we had to hire many resisted doing sodata-entry operators to feed in because ofinformation, create Excel sheets budget-relatedand maintain a database. To ensure issues, then Web-productivity, we also had to keepan eye on them. But when business based solutionsexpanded, it became difficult to are the waykeep a strict vigil on employees forward.and track their output. Adoptingan integrated Web-based retail work culture. The solution is so easy was only on monitoring our profitmanagement solution has helped us to operate that our sales team and and loss statement. Over a period,not only in managing and monitoring store managers have grown fond the need for superior, flexible andinventory, but also to keep a record of working on the application and customised reporting evolved asof employees’ productivity on a daily are mostly found hooked to it. This our retail stores increased from onebasis. Now, it is possible to know in turn, has helped us save on the to 10 in number. But, I was neverwho is selling a particular product, salaries of coordinators who used prepared to invest ` 25 to 30 lakhs onand in what quantities. The solution to focus only on data compilation, deploying an on-premise businessdefinitely helps us in keeping an eye sorting and stock reorder intelligence solution—just to serveon employees, from anywhere,” says management.” Goel agrees and our reporting needs, as it would diluteGandhi. says that even in his organization, it the company’s return on capital Helps prevent pilferage: IT just took three to four days to train employed (ROCE), at least in thesolutions, once implemented, employees to use the EazyCRM initial years. I rather preferred to openstreamline the work flow and solution that they have subscribed to. a new store with the available in keeping a record of every Increase efficiency: Armed with a As we could not afford poor ROCE,business activity. These solutions Web-enabled solution that provides we preferred to manually compilehelp organisations to keep a “any-time any-where” access to an data in Excel sheets, till as long ascomplete record of their goods, organisation’s data such as stock levels, we could manage it. Fortunately, wethereby reducing the chances of companies can run their businesses at came across a cloud-based businesspilferage. Gandhi agrees: “We have the maximum levels of efficiency from intelligence solution for which wewitnessed a reduction in pilferage. a costing, operational and profitability would be charged on a monthly orThe solution keeps a proper record standpoint. For instance, warehouses quarterly basis. This seemed quiteof all transactions. There is no can be set up at inexpensive Tier II manageable and hence we opted forscope for employees to commit any and Tier III towns, while distribution it,” shares Chandhoke.malpractice. Thus, we do not need to networks can be established far and Flexibility to scale up and down:keep a strict eye on employees, and wide to enable greater market reach The biggest benefit of a Web-basedcan focus on other important tasks,” than before, says Ramshankar. IT solution is that you can scalequips Gandhi. A manageable operational up and scale down the use of the User-friendly solutions: Being expense: Unlike an on-premise model solution, based on your company’sWeb-based, these solutions are easy that is a capital expenditure for a requirements. If your employeeto use. Chandhoke shares: “In the company, Web-based solutions can headcount increases, you can buybeginning, there was some resistance be subscribed to without spending a few more user licences, and if thefrom the employees’ side, but we took a hefty sum of money. “Like every number of employees decrease, it isabout a week to get the IT solution other small organisation, when we easy to unsubscribe a few licences.integrated with the organisation’s started our operations, our focus The on-premise model does not44 • August 2011 • BenefIT •
  5. 5. ProductivITy A few best practices To make the most of Web-based IT solutions, here are a few best practices that organsiations should adopt before and afterthe implementation of these solutions:1. Conduct a thorough research prior to making a pick: Every organisation is different, and so are its requirements. Therefore, it is imperative to undertake a comprehensive market survey before you opt for any business IT solution. There are many factors that need to be considered before you subscribe to any Web-based solution, such as the reliability of the vendor, data security, cost advantages, good on-going support, etc. However, factors that may determine the buying decision of one company may differ from that of another.Chandhoke agrees and says that it is important that an organisation assesses its requirements and expectations from an IT solution, clearly. “When we were on the look out for a business intelligence solution, we had five factors in our mind that would drive our decision—cost, speed of implementation, customisation, ease of use and data security,” he shares. Gandhi also shares the considerations that helped his company ascertain which solution would be best for his business, “When we were looking out for a retail solution, we had primarily one thing in mind—data access from anywhere so that I could keep an eye on my business from anywhere, anytime. I undertook a market survey for two to three months, and finally opted for TruePOS.” Value-addition to business, speed of implementation and reliability of the vendor were some other factors that Singh took into account, before he opted for the BIRetail solution.2. Get IT customised: Although companies build these solutions in a way that they can be configurable without any customisation and may work for most organisations, yet some amount of customisation is always required, based on the niche requirements of a business. This customisation is usually to the tune of 10 to 15 per cent. Most solutions providers, typically, provide a set of customisation features, product extensions and configuration tools to meet customers’ needs, thus removing constraints like vendor rigidity and inflexibility.3. Keep user passwords secure: It is necessary to keep user passwords secure as an organisation’s data can be misused if someone obtains access to user passwords. In such a case, a company might suffer huge losses. The ideal practice is to change passwords, regularly ”If someone leaves the organisation, we immediately change the passwords for that user account,” tells Gandhi.4. Keep in touch with your vendor: After implementing the solution, organisations should use the IT solution to the maximum possible extent, and cover as many operational and management aspects as possible. They should also engage with vendors on a continuous basis to make sure they share their feedback and suggestions with the former, thrash out doubts and bottlenecks in the system and communicate with the vendor on a regular basis to ensure the continuous improvement of the system. This will help organisations to stay ahead of the competition and leverage a solution to extract the maximum business benefit from it. This will surely result in higher productivity and a higher ROI, says Vembu.5. Involvement of both IT professionals and management: To make an IT software implementation succeed, it is essential to ensure its widespread adoption across the organisation. To do this, there should be committed involvement of both the management and IT professionals throughout the process and its implementation. As a result, more complexities can be addressed, and it will become easier to implement and use the solution, effectively.6. Training: Organisations should ensure that their employees are trained in a proper way so that they can get the benefits of these solutions to the maximum extent possible. There will always be some initial hiccups when a new system is implemented. Employees usually tend to lose their patience and discard the new software, at this early stage. Thus, employees’ queries should be patiently addressed by trainers, says Singhal.offer this kind of flexibility. Apart two to three per cent due to better Though Singh finds it difficult tofrom this, based on the users’ and information management.” quantify returns, he firmly believes thatorganisation’s requirements, it is Gandhi also feels that his company since the cost is so low, and the benefitspossible to add more modules and has been experiencing many tangible to his business are so obvious, returnsfeatures or reduce them, in your and intangible benefits. He adds: would definitely be multiple times worthsubscription-based IT system. “Firstly, the percentage of sales has the investment. increased. If I had not opted for the Though there are a lot of benefitsMeasuring the ROI Web-based solution, I would have that these solutions can offer, it isOn the subject of the return on been selling 20 to 25 per cent less than advisable to go for an IT solutioninvestment, Chandhoke says, “It is what I am selling now. Besides, data is only after assessing your needs. It isdifficult to monetise the return at this now more structured, and employees important to critically investigate andstage, but for sure, there are many have become more efficient. Most choose the solution that matches yourqualitative and holistic benefits that importantly, we can easily get to know requirements. Once the right step haswe are experiencing. Overall, I can about customer preferences, which is been taken, leverage the solution, trainsee our turnover has increased by crucial for survival, in this business.” employees and make the most of it!  • BenefIT • August 2011• 45