Acceptance issues and reluctance to adopt new technology are the major concerns that creep in while implementing IT related service delivery systems, says Asheesh Sharma in an interview with Veena Kurup of ENN
What is your opinion on the increasing use of IT in various government sectors?
e-Governance can be considered as the best alternative to improve administrative efficiency. However, a prime problem concerning the success of such IT-enabled or e-Governance initiatives is a common wrong practice of top-to-bottom approach. For instance, if an organisation is moving forward and an initiative is being imposed upon it, then the pressurised situation often leads to deviation in the operational focus from the core aim.
The other problem is the issue of comparability in analysing the effectiveness of such initiatives across distinct departments or governing bodies. Though many organisations today propagate on achieving complete operational success and efficiency, on real-time basis we lack the ability to achieve or analyse the solid evidence in measuring the actual success of the organisation’s initiatives. As a result, small initiatives are often highlighted while the bigger ones are often left behind. Such a situation often de-motivates the workforce behind these initiatives for the future ventures.
The situation, thus, requires a bottom-to-top approach, wherein productive evaluation can be attained at each level of individual participation. Mahagenco is one of the first PSUs using the SAP ERP system.
Can you take us through the experience of using this technology?
Technology initiatives like SAP are crucial for an electricity generating company like ours. One of the prime factors is that our plants are scattered over 10-15 locations across Maharashtra, as we are the second-largest power utility company in India. The nature of job, size of the company, our geographical spread, management functions, and finance and procurement issues together require a platform like SAP to integrate with one another.
It took us four years to implement the initiative, and over the years, we have completely transformed our old operations and are trying to get all our data on to the SAP platform. Acceptability issues and adoption of new technologies cropped up as the major initial hurdles, due to which the process took a longer implementation period. After the training period, the key issue focussed was feeding the data into various SAP modules. At present, we have data being stored into the system from all possible locations. Today, we are trying to convert the data into knowledge, due to which it has started acting as a support system in assisting our decision making process. This is a stage where you leverage SAP to deliver better and productive services.
What strategies Mahagenco adopted to tackle the initial operational hiccups?
Mahagenco adopted this technical approach about four years ago, wherein we focussed on implementing a bottom-to-top approach. At the initial stages of implementation, acceptability was a key hurdle as people doubted the success of this new inverted approach mode. Hence, it was very difficult to convince people entering the data about the benefits to be gained through such an approach.
However, through a planned operational approach Mahagenco has succeeded in initiating this effective system. Today, we have an individual owner for each module and we are encouraging them to take the ownership of that module. Moreover, instead of remaining as just owners, we are encouraging them to use it in their day-to-day functions. Gradually, we are also withdrawing our legacy systems. In the coming four to five months we will focus on achieving paperless operational office.
Share with us your vision for exploring e-platforms.
We will have to ensure that the decision support system is built in a manner that it actually helps as a decision-making tool. The system being utilised should be capable of assisting the respective officers in analysing each level of data. This approach ultimately results in improved performance and achieving administrative efficiency. Our aim is to make the operational environment more business friendly, as we are an administration-centric PSU body.