North Delhi Power Limited turned around an ailing government department by introducing an IT infrastructure and a unique style of change management.
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North Delhi Power Limited (NDPL) used change to its best advantage when it took over from the ailing Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) about four years ago. The shift that has now become a lesson in change management, brought down its aggregate technical & commercial (AT&C) losses from over 50 to 22 percent.
North Delhi Power Limited is a joint venture between Tata Power Limited and the Government of National Capital Territory. The JV gave NDPL jurisdiction of over 520 square kilometers and 0.9 million consumers.
Anil Kumar Sardana, Managing Director, NDPL, recalls the period when DVB was on its last legs. "The people, the processes and the premises were no better than the wreckage of a plane crash. We were asked to collect the debris and put it together," says Sardana.
DVB, according to Sardana, was brimming with gross malpractices and irregularities. Employees ensured records were not kept since these would make some of them vulnerable. Sardana also recalls how people thought IT was an infringement of their freedom - the freedom to allow middlemen and brokers to provide connections on behalf of the department and receive kickbacks.
IT was behind all the changes at NDPL. We couldn’t have met this much success without it.
We made employees realize that the processes are not in their minds, they are in the machines.
To make matters worse, sections of the DVB ran off just two desktops, which made processes largely manual. Akhil Pandey, Principal Executive Officer and IT Advisor to NDPL, says the manual systems also opened the DVB to corruption, which made buying a power connection a punishment.
The problem had become so acute that the NDPL couldn't find an error-free and tamper-proof billing software that would plug the existing malpractices. "The average error rate in billing in most developed nations is three-to-four percent. When we took over from DVB, it was over 30 percent - all because of a lack of a proper IT infrastructure," rues Sardana.
NDPL began by roping in KEMA, a US-based consultancy, which advised NDPL on how to create a world-class power distribution infrastructure beside information system architecture. The NDPL decided to work only with IT-enabled processes and initiatives. From day one, NDPL decided to capture data from the point of origin. However, under DVB, employees hadn't ever seen an MIS report and were reluctant to the idea.
Part of the NDPL prescription was to ask its employees to aim at becoming a process-oriented company by using IT. NDPL wanted IT to not only streamline workflow but also command various processes. The NDPL worked on two roadmaps: the roadmap for IT and the roadmap to automation. Internally, with so many loose ends, NDPL started with the most painful area: an ERP system. The second task facing the NDPL was to provide accurate billing to 9.1 lakh customers. Another concern was increasing efficiency in the exchange of information between consumers and NDPL.
Earlier, losses were labelled T&D (transmission and distribution) losses, which normally describing the difference between the units supplied and what the company billed consumers for. But under the manual regime, employees of the DVB could bill consumers and reduce the difference between units supplied and billed for. In short, the losses could artificially be lowered.
IT changed that. It also helped create a proud workforce. "It brought satisfaction among employees, and a satisfied person at work is a better person at home," says Sardana. "It helped NDPL produce proactive, transparent citizens," says Pandey.
Sardana now wants IT to enable NDPL with strategic enterprise management and a balance scorecard system to increase productivity. NDPL is now working on an integrated platform which will enable management to trace employees through a unique employee code for all his activities. We want to build that kind of artificial intelligence to take the change to the next level," concludes Pandey.
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