Vectra ERP Implementation Takes Wing

Global Vectra Helicorp, a private Indian helicopter company recently implemented an ERP package from IFS.

Sahil Mane September 01, 2009 10:00:13 IST
Vectra ERP Implementation Takes Wing

Vectra ERP Implementation Takes WingIn a bid to support its growth ambitions and streamline operations across the organisation, Global Vectra Helicorp, one of India’s leading private helicopter companies recently implemented an ERP package from IFS.

Part of the Vectra Group of Companies, Global Vectra Helicorp currently owns a fleet of 19 Bell 412 helicopters, which it hopes to expand to approximately 40 over the next few years, has gone live with the ERP.

"Ye" Old Set Up

The company offers offshore helicopter services to oil companies such as ONGC, Reliance and Gujarat State Petroleum Company (GSPC) on the east and west coasts of India.

Up until recently the company’s Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) processes were facilitated via Computer run, an MS-DOS based programme and for their financials ran Tally. This set up however was proving to be a drag for the company as it presented a number of challenges such as siloed infrastructure and lack of visibility across disparate business processes.

“Our legacy systems were not in synch with our growth plans. We as a company have been witnessing exponential growth for the last few years and our earlier systems were limiting our future ambitions. Also with the advent of increasingly complex regulatory directives, compliance was becoming a major concern to us. It is for these reasons that we felt the need for a comprehensive ERP solution,” said Sanjay Patel, General Manager (IT-Projects), Vectra IT Solutions.

Hunting For The Right ERP

To ascertain that they chose the optimal product for their requirements, the company went through an extensive evaluation program. “We had a wide-ranging questionnaire that vendors had to answer even before the pre-sales process,” said Patel.

The company assessed several offerings from ERP vendors including Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Ramco and Baan, before finally settling on a set of solutions from IFS.

“The tremendous customer base that IFS has in the aviation industry was what eventually tipped the scales in their favour,” mentioned Patel.

In addition to evaluating a vendor, Patel undertook an evaluation programme to identify suitable members for the core team responsible for the implementation. “My decision was to go to the second rung of top management, thus enabling me to reach someone who was involved in the daily operations and also had the ability to take spot decisions. This core team was instrumental in the success of this deployment,” informed Patel.

He also identified all the business processes that needed to be optimised in the first phase of implementation. “Deviating from the norm, we decided to include MRO in the first phase along with finance and logistics. We also decided that HR and manpower calculations could be implemented in the second phase. We were following the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle for deployment and needed only the fundamental processes in the initial phase,” he said.

While evaluating the right ERP, Patel also had to take into account Vectra Aviation, a Delhi based sister concern. As both companies shared approximately 85% of their business processes, they needed a targeted package that catered specifically to the aviation industry.

Implementation Challenges

The company kicked off implementation on the 12th of February this year and went live with the solution on the 16th of July. However, it wasn’t all that simple. It had to face a number of obstacles, some expected and some not so expected.

Availability of core team members, unease in dealing with remote infrastructure and the delay in master file creation as the data collection process was quite cumbersome, were some of the expected challenges the company had to face.

Another issue that Patel anticipated was a conflict between the modules of the ERP and their business processes. Whether to customise the ERP package or make changes in the business process?

Patel had an unusual solution to this problem, he opted for the later. According to him, “Whenever there is a conflict we prefer to make adjustments in the process to accommodate the ERP. In this manner we are able to minimise customisation and reduce the TCO drastically. It also saves you customisation costs when you get a software upgrade.”

The not so expected bit however was the software idiosyncrasies. “We also had to deal with software idiosyncrasies and realised that certain modules of this package were not enterprise grade. This system was intended to service two companies, but the vehicle information management component could only be configured to include information for one. Eventually the solution to this problem was the creation of two separate databases.”

As this solution was intended to service two companies, Patel decided to implement a web deployed model with the datacentre based in Delhi. Patel figured this was the most effective way to leverage minimum infrastructure expenditure.

The IFS solution runs on HP servers and uses an Oracle back-end.

Improved Operations Post Implementation

“Although it’s too soon to see definite benefits, we are able to get a glimpse of the overall benefits. We already have a more complex MIS in place in the finance module. As the amount of data capture is large, it helps Quality Control (QC) and Engineering with airworthiness certification. The ability to generate customised and on demand reports is also one of the immediate effects,” says Patel.

Patel envisions the long-term benefits to include building the foundation of a more complex MIS and enabling the company to grow faster with improved scalability.

“Successfully completing an implementation in six months with a part-time core team was an achievement and we have now set up a stabilisation phase steering committee to handle issues with usage and monitor training.” said Patel.

Increasing usage of the solution, building user confidence and building ownership have been the company’s primary focus areas after the system has gone live.

Global Vectra Helicorp is currently evaluating plans for implementing a similar solution for the finance and HR departments in three other Vectra Group companies including Vectra IT Solutions.

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