CIO 100 Winner: Here's an ingenious CIO who brought more visibility to the world's largest producer and distributor of fertilizer, which boosted revenue and efficiency and cut costs.
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As the world's largest producer and distributor of fertilizer, IFFCO is responsible to over 40,000 co-operative societies located all over the country. It's a complex operation: just its marketing division is divided into five zones, 20 state offices, 68 area offices and 455 field locations and 177 retail outlets.
Fertilizer is sent from plants and ports via rail and road and then stored in about 5,000 warehouses. Just the number of trucks used to move material from rake points to warehouses? 6,90,000. Its widespread operations and multiple variables created major challenges.
Because a majority of IFFCO's data sources were in rural India, information moved through the system slowly, which resulted in delayed decisions. Another challenge was entering data of what was produced and dispatched from every plant, every day. The cooperative also needed to monitor inventory at each of its warehouses. "The release of government subsidies in thousands of crores is linked to this data," says S.C. Mittal, senior executive director management services and IT, IFFCO. "Many ERP systems were evaluated but none of them met our requirements."
That's when the cooperative decided to develop its own comprehensive enterprisewide Web-based system called eVIKAS. The cooperative's ERP has modules for master data, inventory, sales and remittances, H&T and storage, port operations, farmer service centers and promotional activities.
As he pushed the project through its final phases, Mittal met with multiple challenges, one of them being educating users. "The field-force is not computer literate," he says. "And since field officers are located in remote locations providing them with support was also a major challenge." Training programs and identifying computer-savvy area account officers who were trained in resolving hardware and software-related issues went a long way in breaking these challenges.
Today, the Rs 15-crore project has enabled faster decision-making, which allows salespeople to generate more revenue. From 2006 to 2008, IFFCO's turnover tripled but it added on only 18 marketing people. eVIKAS has also created greater visibility. "The lead time for depositing remittances reduced from seven to three days resulting in huge interest savings," says Mittal. "This initiative simplifies the ever-increasing complexities of IFFCO's business processes due to its geographical spread."
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