Saturday, 27 February 2016

Project Gyan Series

A T20 match and a Project have a lot of similarities. In both the cases target needs to be achieved with limited resources. In a T20 only 20 overs and 11 players are available for achieving the victory. Similarly in any Project, limited time and budget is available. However in T20, the team is not allowed to exceed 11 players and 20 overs. Consuming 20 overs or 11 players without achieving target means losing the match. Successful captains consistently overcome such constraints.
In Project, consuming more time and cost means project delay and cost overrun i.e  losing our match.

Can we consistently win this match? Follow this series to find out how you can win the match!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Limited Period Offer - Upto 25% Off

“Project Management” is being ever increasing & more recognized skill set for many positions almost in all Industry Sectors like IT, Engineering, Construction and Services etc.
“Project Management Professional – PMP® certification is suitable to all project professionals irrespective of the industry vertical with more than 3 years of working experience. It is issued by world’s premier organization Project Management Institute (PMI ®), USA. PMP certificate has wide recognition worldwide almost close to 188 countries including US, Canada, India, Singapore, China, UK & Gulf Countries.
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Scheduled dates for our upcoming PMP certification training program at thane are 15th, 16th, 22nd & 23rd of November 2014. 

Present Offer……   Up to 25% Discount*
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Sunday, 28 September 2014

Scientific Project Management in Real Estate and Construction industry in India – Part 1

On 13th Sept 2014 I gave a presentation on the topic ‘Importance of Scientific Project Management in Real Estate and Construction’ at a conference in Radisson Blue Hotel Goa, organized by CREDAI Maharashtra – a powerful organization of builders. The event was attended by almost 400 Real Estate developers across Maharashtra, India. Post this presentation I received many queries from different people across segments. This prompted me to present articles on the subject through a series of blogs.

We use word project in our every day life for e.g. my kids carry out projects in their school, even film stars call their ongoing movies as project. Some time we loosely make statement like ‘Filling this form is like a project for me’. The question here is - are we right in calling it a project?

As per definition a ‘project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service or result’ or, in other words, a project is time bound journey to achieve any unique target. The important words here are “time bound” and “unique.” For e.g. producing products like cars or mobile handset in a factory set-up is also time bound process but the output from this is expected to be a series of uniform products and not unique products. So producing products such as car falls under the category of ‘operation’ and not project. So to answer the earlier question, ‘yes giving exams or doing a movie is a project’.

In Real Estate and Construction industry every building or plant is unique and hence it falls under the category of ‘project’.

But then what is project management?

As a part of Project Management in construction we have seen many century old, amazing and beautiful structures such Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, Pyramids of Egypt etc. Similarly we have been observing many modern, beautiful structures such as Rashtrapati Bhavan, Parliament House, etc. We also see many ordinary looking structures all over metros and small towns. Most of these have been produced using traditional project management techniques.  When we say traditional, this means that more thrust was given on product itself but there was less or no focus on project management techniques. So in many cases these projects either get delayed while also crossing the budget many times over or there is no concept of budget at all.

The concept of project management as a discipline grew during the Second World War in USA when the US armed forces undertook massive projects in Defense and Infrastructure with very short time lines.

During the massive reconstruction of Europe in the post war era and the dominance of the American EPC companies in that period, the discipline of Project Management developed rapidly and became a necessary skill for execution of large projects with control on time, cost and quality.

Projects usually begin by setting the scope and creating boundaries in the form of timeline and budget. This is also called as “Triple constraints” i.e. for any project first scope is decided and then time and budget is estimated to complete this scope. However a project manager is not allowed to cross time and budget even if there is a change in scope. Hence, a project manager is constrained by these boundaries.

Slowly, project managers realized that there are many more constraints than just triple constraints. The other 6 constraints recognized are quality, human resources, communication, stakeholders, contracts and uncertainties. These 6 are also called as expanded triple constraints.

Project Management guidelines have been developed to manage such constraints effectively so as to deliver projects within agreed timeline, budget, quality and also keep the various stakeholders satisfied.

In the next series of articles we will see how to manage projects by managing the above mentioned 9 constraints.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

‘Go Live’ Important Phrase & Phase of ERP Industry

On 1st June 2013 we had planned to Go Live with a new SAP system at Takshi Auto, a fast growing automobile component manufacturing company at Chakan, Pune. The entire team including the management team of Takshi, system users and the consulting team from Godrej Infotech were  anxious and working very hard to make this phase successful.

So what is Go Live and why it is so important for ERP products like SAP?

Go Live marks the beginning of a new ERP system.

Okay so what’s so great about it? Are we not starting a new IT system or a new software/application every now and then? So what’s so great about ERP?

ERP is a single software for any organization & it replaces all other softwares such as inventory management, finance, purchase etc.
Going Live means stopping all existing systems and shifting to new single system called ERP from that moment. So it is kind of like heart replacement surgery but only for a company.

So what is the danger?….if single system stops then the entire organization will come to standstill. As is the case in replacing a person’s heart with a new heart….if it doesn’t work, then a person can collapse or even die.
In case of ERP failure all transactions of the organization such as receiving of raw material, despatching of finished material, processing of work in process material, processing of payments, recording of quality parameters…..everything can come to standstill as there is no information available….completely blind folded organization.
So are we not testing ERP thoroughly?

Yes through testing of any ERP system is mandatory. Many times testing is carried out in a box i.e. server or a system which is different than real system, also called as Production system or a system in which real transactions are carried out. Hence for a large and complex ERP, such as SAP, a small error can halt the entire system resulting in a complete collapse.
Imagine the case of a batsman who is playing well in net practice; is his performance in real match guaranteed? Not at all…it’s finally that small but important luck factor which is equally important.
But don’t worry… my long ERP career I have seen very very few failed Go Live attempts and all those failures had a strong reasoning behind them. So do thorough testing before you Go Live and you will have high chances of success.

Feel free to ask any questions regarding “Go live”. I will be happy to answer them.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

IPL T20 Vs Project Management

As a part of my profession we have been giving advice to our customers to apply certain Project Management principles and techniques. Sometimes it is not so easy to explain those boring terms.
Recently while watching IPL match suddenly I could see lot of similarity between any IPL T 20 match and Project Management.

What is project?.....any time bound journey to achieve unique result. In T20, players are getting limited time and only 20 overs to achieve or lose the match. So isn’t it a project?
In a project, project team has to work within constraints - scope, time, budget, quality, human resources. In T20 match team have many constraints in addition to limited overs which are – only 11 players, fielding restrictions, completing overs in a stipulated time etc.

One of the important characteristic of any project is known as progressive elaboration i.e. adjusting the pace of the project as per the current status through detail planning. In T20 match batsmen and captain of the team has to constantly watch the current run rate and decide whether to accelerate or go slow as per the existing status.

And finally the result of any match – victory of a team is mainly due to excellent strategies, team work, better control on run rate than opponent. In project, victory of any team is equivalent to completion of project within agreed schedule, budget and quality through excellent control on scope, resources, good team work and communication.

So now enjoy IPL T20 and learn few basics of Project Management. 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Selecting ERP Products for SMEs

‘We are expanding our business and planning to implement SAP and need your help in implementation’ my customer requested. ‘But why do you think that SAP will address your business challenge? Are you ready for SAP? Have you checked other ERPs?’ I asked him. ‘Because our competitor has bought it and as I understand SAP is the most popular product’.
Dear friends, I am often involved in such kind of discussion. The important point is not whether SAP is good or bad but do I really need it or whether we can implement it successfully?
There are hundreds of ERP products available in the market and particularly SMEs (Small and medium enterprises) are always confused about choice of the product. In this process they either buy expensive ERP product, which is not at all suitable for them or end up in the ERP which never sees end of the tunnel i.e. never gets implemented after spending lot of money and efforts.
Following are 5 most important factors which are essential for SMEs while selecting ERP,
  1. Volume of transaction – If your organization is involved in high number of transactions e.g. per week if hundreds of goods receipt, hundreds of despatches are involved or if type of raw materials, semi finish or finished goods are in multiple of thousands or if you have multiple plant or storage locations, large number of material transfer between plants, distributors and sub-contractor then you need robust proven ERP systems such as SAP or Oracle. Typically FMCG or Auto companies falls in this category
  2. Type of industry – Most of the international ERP product are originally designed for manufacturing companies and hence may not be suitable for certain industries such as Real Estate, Infrastructure or IT industry which are project based industries and not manufacturing based industries. Real Estate or construction companies have some specific business needs e.g. project tracking is more important for such organizations. Few specialized industry specific ERP systems are recommended for them. SAP has built industry specific applications on the top of standard ERP but it’s very expensive and some time difficult to manage.
  3. Highly specialized business needs – Finance, Purchase, Inventory management are considered as core business functionalities and are common for almost all industries. However few industries has very specialized business needs other than the core business functionalities. E.g. Production planning is a functionality which varies from industry to industry. Production planning requirements of industries such as auto part manufacturing and that of chemical plants are completely different. For some industries such as FMCG, Pharma, Paint etc. supply chain is extremely complex and for industries such as auto ancillary, plastic, etc material flows through multiple work stations before final product is produced where same machine is shared by multiple products. In such cases Planning modules of most of the standard ERP are inadequate and need additional products to support planning e.g. SAP has APO as a separate product only for planning or i2 is another well know product only for planning. Such products can be integrated with standard ERP. Similarly customer interaction is critical for few customers such as industries operating in retail segment. Depending on the severity of need organization can decide whether to use built in functionalities of standard ERP or to use another specialized packages such as SAP’s CRM or Oracle’s Siebel. Then there are few separate products to manage B2B business such as SAP’s SRM product suite.
  4. Maturity of the users – This is the most important point while selecting an ERP.  Branded international products such as SAP are often failed not due to bugs or lack of features but it is due to improper usage. In my long career in SAP I haven’t seen a single incidence where product has failed due to bug or improper functioning. Lack of understanding about the product is a major reason of ERP failure.  Usually Finance and Purchase department are familiar using some kind of IT system. But for users, of departments such as Production, Quality, Stores etc., finds it difficult in handling sophisticated ERP systems. Hence if users are not matured enough either hire manpower who can understand sophisticated ERP system or adopt a simple, small but proven ERP.
  5. Budget – An important factor in selection of any ERP is budget. There is range of ERP products in the market. However one should not consider ERP product only because of low price. Price along with all the above factors should be considered. E.g. If an organization in the manufacturing sector, has complex specialized business requirements, high volume of transactions then they should think about branded, reputed and robust product such as SAP or Oracle Business Suite. If they do not have matured manpower, think about hiring it. If they have constraints of large investment then there are options of phased out implementation by which they can do investment in different phases. Financial institutions such as bank are offering loan against ERP project implementation. ERP cost includes license cost, hardware cost, software cost, network cost and implementation cost. If organization has a low budget with standard business requirements and of they are not willing to take risk of ERP failure then they can consider option of cloud computing with products such as iON or Ramco Cloud computing etc.