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Telecom Transmission: DTL undertakes business process re-engineering using ERP

October 31, 2012
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Delhi Transco Limited (DTL), a successor company of the erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board, was established in 2002. DTL’s primary function is to establish, upgrade, operate and maintain extra high voltage networks in Delhi. With the twin aims of achieving greater network transparency and optimising network performance, the company took rapid steps to overhaul its communications infrastructure.

tele.net takes a look at the development of DTL’s communications set-up…

Legacy system

“In the early days, DTL utilised minimal networking infrastructure in its corporate office,” says Mukesh Sharma, deputy general manager, telecom, IT and ERP. “During 2002-10, very few telecom applications were in use, mostly for the finance and human resource functions. DTL had a web-based payroll system and the Tally application was used for all financial purposes. These systems catered to individual departments on a stand-alone basis.”

In 2007, the existing payroll system was replaced by a web-based management information system, which was limited in terms of functionality and integration. On the technical, and operations and maintenance fronts, the company used a dedicated supervisory control and data acquisition system implemented on a fibre optic backbone network. It connected state-wide 220 kV and 400 kV electricity substations for providing real-time information pertaining to the grid and energy management systems.

However, the company felt that the existing legacy and stand-alone applications were piecemeal solutions, and had outlived their usefulness in the current business scenario due to their limited integration capabilities. Considering the company’s growth plans and the integration requirements of its business processes and business intelligence, the management decided to undertake business process re-engineering using enterprise resource planning (ERP).

The shift

As a first step, the company completed the process of ERP implementation on the SAP platform in 2010-11. “Since then, DTL has been conducting its operations through the SAP-ERP system and has constituted a dedicated division to support and maintain ERP-based solutions. The implementation of ERP has been one of the major IT initiatives for the state transmission utility,” says Sharma.

For interconnecting all its offices and 29 substations, the company set up an extensive data communications infrastructure using multiple technology mediums such as fibre optic networks, radio communication and leased lines. “With this, DTL has its own dedicated intranet, which serves as a backbone for running ERP as well as substation automation applications. A state-of-the-art enterprise-class double-layer perimeter security has been implemented using Cisco ASA security appliances, with intrusion detection and prevention systems deployed in high-availability mode to deliver optimal throughput.”

Currently, DTL uses 15 Mbps of internet bandwidth obtained from Tata Communications and plans to upgrade it to 45 Mbps soon.

The company also has an in-house tier 3 corporate data centre at its Delhi office, which hosts more than 30 servers that are operational round the clock.

In addition, the company has nearly 600 computers of various capacities installed in the organisation. Mobile computing facilities like laptops have been provided to executives up to the manager level and email access is available to all employees.

The capex for the implementation of a SAP-based ERP solution amounted to nearly Rs 350 million. This included SAP licences and servers, storage area networks, implementation of the company’s data centre and the newly created networking and communications infrastructure. The company’s annual opex stood at Rs 35 million . DTL’s IT budget for 2011-12 was about Rs 100 million and is expected to be Rs 150 million for 2012-13.

Challenges and benefits

According to Sharma, DTL faced several issues while implementing the ERP system. “We faced challenges in terms of switching our existing manual business processes to an IT-enabled, structured process to maintain network uniformity throughout the company.”

In addition, data migration to the new environment was a big challenge. The biggest challenge faced by DTL was deploying the intranet. “DTL has 1,800 employees, with around 500 working at the executive level. Our offices are spread all across Delhi and are connected to all the 31 substations through various mediums. This intranet is the backbone of ERP implementation within the company. It was a mammoth task to implement and maintain this infrastructure.”

However, the benefits to the company far outweigh the challenges. Deploying a new communications set-up helped integrate all the functional areas of the company; streamline different organisational processes and workflow; reduce time and cost overruns of projects; take more informed decisions; improve reporting to committees, board members and shareholders; increase management efficiency; and reduce cost of inventory.

In sum, by modernising its telecom set-up, the company was able to cut communication costs and enhance its overall productivity and efficiency.

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